Finding Supportive Writing Organizations
It’s always important to immerse yourself in the communities of your creative pursuits. We’re living in an era of information-overload, and connecting with artists who share the same passion is a valuable use of your time.
When I began 5th grade, I decided to join my school band. I loved learning how to play the clarinet, as well as the community of fellow band nerds. Fast forward to the summer before 9th grade, I decided it was time for new challenges, so I learned how to play the oboe in three months. And I also joined the drum line at my new high school. This wasn’t a casual activity, it was an entirely new mindset in how I participated in band. To be an oboist and a percussionist meant I needed to immerse myself in both the marching and symphony bands, well beyond learning how to play these instruments. This meant competitions individually and collectively, pushing myself to get better (and I did).
This is how I view the world of writing. In order to thrive in the publishing world, it’s important to know one’s community. This includes your local writing community, education programs (recreational and/or college classes), and larger national organizations.
There are many benefits to being a member of a national writer’s organization. By taking all the knowledge learned in your local and academic communities, and having access to the combined resources provided by these larger entities, this is an effective way to build your network and widen your reach as a writer.
Many of these organizations not only provide regional and national events, but they’ll also provide member-accessible forums, genre-specific publishing news, classes (online & in-person), nationally-recognized awards, and many other resources. Once the genre & category of your book is finalized, the next step is to connect with an organization that fits your writing needs.
Here are some organizations worth considering (this is only a few of the many that are available):
SISTERS IN CRIME - $40-$50/year, sistersincrime.org* Established in 1986. “To promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers.” [*The Minnesota Chapter - $20/year, www.twincitysinc.org
SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY WRITERS OF AMERICA (SFWA) - $90-$175/year (depending on the level chosen), www.sfwa.org. Established in 1965. “SFWA is an organization for published authors and industry professionals in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, and related genres.”
ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA (RWA) - $99/year +$25 processing fee for new members & reinstating members, www.rwa.org. Established in 1980. RWA is a “nonprofit trade association whose mission is to advance the professional and common business interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy and by increasing public awareness of the romance genre.”
MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA (MWA) - $115/per year (July 1 – June 30th), www.mysterywriters.org.* They host the annual Edgar®Awards. Their mission is to support “mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. MWA is dedicated to promoting higher regard for crime writing and recognition and respect for those who write within the genre.” [*The Midwest Chapter - mwamidwest.org
HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION (HWA) - $55-$130/year, www.horror.org Established in the late 1980s. They host the annual Bram Stoker Awards®. Their primary mission is to “encourage public interest in and foster an appreciation of good Horror and Dark Fantasy literature.”
ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS - $35-$100/year for general levels (there are higher levels), www.Poets.org Established in 1934. “The Academy of American Poets is the largest membership-based nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation for contemporary poetry and supporting American poets.”
SOCIETY OF CHILDREN’S BOOK WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS (SCBWI)* - 1st year of membership is $95. Annually $80/year afterwards. Student memberships are available- 1st year is $65, $55/year afterwards. www.scbwi.org “Award-winning authors, esteemed illustrators, editors, agents, and publishers present lectures, conduct workshops, and give individual manuscript and art consultations at SCBWI events around the world.” [*You will automatically become a member of your regional SCBWI group upon joining.]
Hopefully this will be a good launching point in connecting with writers who write in your book’s category. This should be a natural step in connecting with the larger writing community (and its readers), while honing your writing chops along the way.
Dawn Michelle Frederick is the owner and literary agent of Red Sofa Literary, established in 2008. Red Sofa Literary is a celebration of the quirky, eclectic ideas in our publishing community. Dawn’s previous experience reflects a broad knowledge of the book business, with over a decade of experience as a bookseller in the independent, chain, and specialty stores, an editor for a YA publisher, and an associate literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency. Dawn earned a BS in Human Ecology and a MS in Library & Information Sciences from an ALA-accredited institution. She is also one of the founders of the MN Publishing Tweet Up, which brings writers and publishers together over a monthly happy hour. Red Sofa Literary was voted as one of the Best 101 Websites by Writer’s Digest in 2012 and 2013. Dawn will be in attendance at the Loft's upcoming Pitch Conference this April.