Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Where am I going? And what's with this handbasket??

As I'm sure most of you are aware, the romance-writer blogosphere's been in a tizzy this past week. It all started with author and literary agent Deidre Knight's thoughtful post over on ESPAN, calling for the RWA to rethink its somewhat backward attitude toward e-publishing. It sparked some great discussion, but then...

A few days later, RWA President Diane Pershing fired back with a less than gracious response. I found it snotty and conscending, and I wasn't the only one. If you'd rather not read the whole thing, here's the jist: RWA does not recognize e-publishing as a legitimate industry. There will be no seminars focusing on e-publishing at this year's national conference in Washington, DC, despite the fact that they offered them on the program last year. They've changed the rules to disallow e-published books from eligibility for the RITAs, RWA's yearly awards. They're doing everything in their power to keep e-published authors out of RWA's Published Author Network. Of course, if any e-pubbed authors still want to join, they'll be happy to take your money - as long as you don't mind sitting at the back of the bus.

I already knew this was going on when I renewed my RWA membership in March, but it still didn't quell my resentment at writing that check. But if it weren't for RWA, I wouldn't have any face-to-face contact with other writers. My local chapter is tiny (only about five to eight people regularly attend meetings), but they've been unfailingly supportive of my career. We have one author who's published 15 books with Harlequin, and she's never made me feel that my work is any less worthy than hers. I also belong to the online chapters Passionate Ink (for erotic romance) and the newly-formed GLBT chapter, Rainbow Romance Writers. Never in a million years did I think RWA would approve a special-interest chapter devoted to GLBT romance, but apparently every now and then they decide to surprise everybody.

Anyway... President Pershing's response has lit a fire under the collective asses of RWA's e-published authors. There's now a website, a Yahoogroup, a Facebook group and a petition site for a new organization called RWAchange, which intends to lobby and advocate vociferously for change from within the organization.

It's a great idea, and I wish them well, but I'm tired of having to fight so hard to have my work accepted. I paid my RWA membership fee just like everyone else, and I want them - no, I *expect* them - to recognize me as a published author.

The human race is inherently hierarchical. We love slotting people into nice, neat little boxes. Somebody's always got to be top dog, better than everyone else. But this "us" vs. "them" mentality just seems so pointless and unnecessarily polarizing. Aren't we all writers? What difference does it make whether we write for a traditional New York print publisher or small press? This is not what I shelled out $85 for.

No comments: