Does A Writer's Organization Have Value?
by W. Terry Whalin
Maybe you've seen the bumper sticker proclaiming, "Writers do it alone." It is true that writing is a solitary craft. You take a legal pad or a keyboard somewhere alone and write words that other people read. In many ways, I'm a quiet person and in other ways I love organizations. I've found incredible value in absorbing information from others in a group setting. Also I know that the information and collective effort of a group can cut literally years of struggle from the individual writer.
Throughout my writing career, I've been an active member in different writer's organizations. It's OK if you are a passive attendee to conferences or organization meetings. I know firsthand that the people who learn the most are the ones who organize sessions, brainstorm sessions and finally support the meetings. There are many large and small writer's organizations. On this page, I highlight some excellent large organizations and I stress the benefits for the person who joins. Some of these organizations have membership requirements and you might not meet the standard early in your writing career. Even if you don't meet the entrance requirements for membership, it is valuable for you to attend their public conferences and begin to have the goal of one day joining these organizations. I include links to the specific organization. Take the link and visit their pages.
Where to find Writer's Organizations
American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA)
Founded in 1948, the American Society of Journalists and Authors is the nation's leading organization of independent nonfiction writers. The ASJA membership consists of more than 1,000 outstanding freelance writers of magazine articles, trade books, and many other forms of nonfiction writing, each of whom has met ASJA's exacting standards of professional achievement. As a member of the ASJA for several years, I've found the organization to be excellent and have great resources for the new writer (through the public pages) and the professional writer (through the member only section). Their annual conference is one of the best writer's conference in the U.S.
The Author's Guild
The Authors Guild is the nation's oldest and largest professional society of published authors, representing more than 8,000 writers. The Authors Guild and its parent organization, the Authors League of America, have achieved much for individual authors through the collective power and voice of their members--from improvement of contracts and royalty statements, to protection of authors' rights under the First Amendment, to the redress of damaging tax inequities.
The Guild's legal staff reviews its members' publishing and agency contracts, intervenes in publishing disputes, and holds seminars and symposia on issues of importance to writers. The Guild also lobbies on the national and local levels on behalf of all authors on issues such as copyright, taxation, and freedom of expression. Reports to members bring them up to date on professional issues of immediate importance, and give them the information necessary to negotiate from a position of strength. The membership requirements for The Authors Guild are less strict than the ASJA. I've enjoyed their newsletter and my limited involvement in this organization.
The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, formed in 1971 by a group of Los Angeles based writers for children, is the only international organization to offer a variety of services to people who write, illustrate, or share a vital interest in children's literature. The SCBWI acts as a network for the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people. There are currently more than 19,000 members worldwide, in over 70 regions, making it the largest children's writing organization in the world. While I am not currently a member of this organization, I have been a member of the SCBWI--particularly when I was writing a number of children's books. Their network in the children's book area is unparalleled in any other group.
Evangelical Press Association
The Evangelical Press Association embraces some 375 periodicals, organizations, and individual members. Its 250-plus periodical members have a combined circulation of more than 20 million readers. EPA is a religious and educational non-profit corporation under the laws of the state of California. It is managed by an executive director, who is responsible to a board of six directors. As a magazine editor, I've been a part of this organization and attended their annual conferences for many years. Because currently I'm not with a member magazine staff, I'm an "associate member." I find the association valuable and a great group of writers and editors.
Fellowship Of Christian Writers
This online group of writers has a variety of resources including a newsletter, a forum, specific online critique groups and other areas. Use the link below to learn more about this resource.
Other Lists of Writer's Organizations
Sally Stuart who creates the Christian Writer's Market Guide, an annual release, has an excellent list of other writer's organizations on her website:
The most comprehensive list of writer-related organizations that I've found is at Author Link:
W. Terry Whalin understands both sides of the editorial desk--as an editor and a writer. He worked as an editor for Decision and In Other Words. His magazine articles have appeared in more than 50 publications including Writer's Digest and Christianity Today. Terry has written more than 60 nonfiction books and one of his latest is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets To Skyrocket Your Success. See more about Terry at:www.right-writing.com/whalin.html. For more than 12 years Terry has been an ECPA Gold Medallion judge in the fiction category. He has written extensively about Christian fiction and reviewed numerous fiction books in publications such as CBA Marketplace and BookPage. He is the former Fiction Acquisitions Editor for Howard Books and creator of www.right-writing.com. Sign up for Terry's free newsletter, Right Writing News.
© 2010 W. Terry Whalin