Controversy

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Over on Romance Divas, there's some passions running high regarding one of the recent (proposed?) changes to RWA PAN eligibility. To wit:

"Our proposal: Rather than having all members who write for particular publishers automatically become PAN-eligible, we are proposing that authors who can prove they have earned $2000.00 - in advance, in royalties, or a combination of the two - on one romance novel from any non-vanity, non-subsidy publisher shall be PAN-eligible."

Personally, I have no problem with this. As others said in the thread, other writer's organizations have minimum requirements (re advances/royalties) for eligibility to join. I do see where the moving target/bar/goal can get frustrating for those aiming to achieve the required criteria, but all in all it makes sense, and might be better in that the onus is now with the author to achieve PAN status, rather than depending on the publisher's standing with the RWA.

The nucleus of the real problem here is that RWA is trying to be all things to all people. I think there needs to be a very painful refocusing/re-adjustment on what they want to represent and achieve, and for whom. They are a professional organization whose membership majority is unpublished writers, while the published membership soon reach the point where they feel their needs aren't being met. They already know how to write synopsis, proposals and query letters. They have their agents and publishers; they've put together their websites and have their marketing plans. They've branded themselves/their work, made it on a couple of best-seller lists, and mastered the Hero's journey and/or the 3-Act plotting structure. Heck, they've written articles or given workshops on any or all of the above. Then one day they have an epiphany, the RWA is mainly working as one huge kaffe klatch for them where they can hook up with friends either on a monthly basis at the local chapter meeting, or once a year at Nationals. Or they feel strongly that RWA supported them through their fledging career and now they want to give something back. But in terms of helping/supporting them for the next level? Not so hotso.

So you've got authors at a certain point in their career who might feel they've outgrown the RWA for all intents and purposes on one hand, and on the other you have the unpublished or newly published who are going to be pissed every time there's a whiff of exclusion or 'elitism' in any purposed changes the RWA may make that the organization (read: sitting Board) feels will put it on a more equal footing with comparable organizations in other genres, and as a result must (may?) make it more attractive (credible?) to published/established authors and other professionals (ie agents, editors), which in turn makes it more attractive to the unpublished.... (yes, I know that last sentence was a disaster. heh.)

One last thing, given the fact that I didn't rejoin my local chapter (though I fully intend to pay the $5 guest charge to attend those meetings that strike my fancy) and I haven't seen one single stinking issue of the RWR for months now, yet feel like I'm not missing out on much, needless to say, this whole issue/topic is not keeping me up at night. Just thought I'd put in my long-winded, gramatically mangled $0.02 and get a blog post happening. ;-)
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18 comments:

Alison said...

I read a comment on the thread where someone was wondering who all would lose PAN status, including how many category authors. Uh, if this person is talking HQ, she needs to do some market research and find out what HQ's minimum standard advance is, and how anyone writing for the house will qualify if the bar is set at $2K. (Of course, I haven't read the entire thread yet, so she may have been informed by now!)

Jaye said...

Alison, that comment surprised me too and I thought this is obviously someone who doesn't know about the minimum standard/boiler-plate advance numbers for Category. But then someone else said *their first book* with an Sil/Harl imprint fell below that advance amount, which I found even more surprising. I wonder if she meant the first portion of her advance, though? ::shrug::

Alison said...

Or maybe M&B does pay differently, which I wouldn't know, I admit.

Angelle Trieste said...

I think she wrote for a really really new line handled by UK office and not distributed in North America. That could make a difference since NA is one of the largest book markets.

But yes, I'm tired of people saying stuff like print pubs pay $1K advances or whatever. Most of them pay a lot more than that.

Jaye said...

*snap!* That's right, Angelle. M&B had that new line to replace the TEMP imprint in England. It was supposed to be "younger" or more chick lit in vibe/voice. The author did say that that first advance was close to the cut off of $2k, and that her next book advance fell more in line with the norm.

Selah March said...

You know, I let my RWA membership lapse sort of accidentally/on purpose last month. And I'm not so much with the missing it.

But I hafta say...are we here to write books and make money doing it, or join clubs within clubs and fight over who deserves to sit at the cool kids' table?

This? Is why women will never rule the world. We can't compete with each other without making it personal and/or pulling the victimization card. "But it's not faaaairrrrr!"

Life's hard, the publishing industry is harder, buy a fucking helmet.

Sorry for the vitriol. I hate this shit.

Jaye said...

No apology necessary. lol. I'm feelin ya, Selah. I'd add to your comments, but my abestos suit is at the cleaners. ;-)

Lynn Viehl said...

I predicted this happening two years ago. Proof: Why PAN was the God of Sheep

Personally I think it's wonderful. I hope they raise the bar to $10K. Then I want a big tub of popcorn and a good seat so I can watch the mud wrestling that follows. Then I'm going to have to go to Vegas and open up a psychic wedding chapel or something. :)

Jaye said...

yanno, Lynn, that's kinda scary. =:-o

I remember that post. Seems even more relevant now.

Jordan Summers said...

Since I've yet to get a whole lot out of PAN, I'm still trying to figure out why anyone is fighting over it. Seriously. I cannot name one thing that PAN has done for me as a writer. I admit I could qualify with ebook or print, but still. It's like fighting over a ratty t-shirt at a garage sale. Even if you win, you lose. Snort.

Amie Stuart said...

What Selah said! Though mine won't lapse for six more months, the whole moving target aspect of this latest bs irritates the sh*t out of me. I don't care about being PAN eligible and the only reason I applied is because my CP (who did care but doesn't now) wouldn't stop nagging me.

Alison said...

I hope they raise the bar to $10K

Actually, on the only chapter loop I'm on, a NYT multi-published author mentioned this EXACTLY! LOL! Yes, I was cheering her on! Silently, because I was at work and had no time to play. ;) But, yeah.

Jaye said...

Jordan, I've heard the same thing for years - a lot of PAN authors saying they don't really *get* anything out of it except the "prestige" of being and some special PAN retreat/workshop at Nationals. That's it. To be fair, I think the rise of blogs and online loops/messageboards has alot to do with the lack(?) or relevancy(?) of PAN.

Verification word: waxy gia. lol.

Jaye said...

Amie, agreed. I can totally see how you would have this target/goal in mind and just when you hit it or are about to, they change it up on you. It's like aiming for an imprint and just when you get a request to submit, the line is cancelled.

As for the RWA in general, you've always seemed to get alot out of your local chapter, but that's probably because you put alot in, attending meetings, writing articles, etc. I'm a more lazy/casual member. Again, 9 times out of 10 the meeting topics have already been covered online, or in previous meetings. It's nice to meet up in person with other writers- there's a certain energy in the room -- but I wasn't getting all that much out of it. The only reason I'll probably renew my membership is because there are some speciality online chapters I wouldn't mind joining.

Jaye said...

Alison, I'll have to agree with you and JOrdan, $2K for one book over 2 years dosen't really seem like that big a deal-- even though I've heard a lot (word of the day, apparently) of publishers have cut back on their advances. I'm having a similar response as when I read some complaints about royalties were being 'held' by a certain ebook publisher until $25 had been accumulated.....

Anonymous said...

I've been reading this. It has taken up one of the rwa loops with whinging. The thing that has annoyed me is these people are too darn stupid to delete the post they are replying to. But I digress. When we get onto the arguments I honestly don't see the problem. I'm not published, I hope to be published one day in the future but all writers organisations have some kind of bar and $2k is really not that much. Most if not all category authors will earn out their advances. Honestly if the organisation is for professional writers then they should set the bar higher. You cannot live on $2k per year, you must be doing a heck of a lot of other things to supplement your writing income. So you are not a professional writer. It should be at least $10k even though you can't live on that, it is at least closer to being professional than $2k.
Rae

Jaye said...

Rae, you'll get no argument from me.

IMHO, this whole controversy (and many other previous ones) is just symptoms of a more serious schism re RWA's mandate in servicing writers at varing levels of professionalism and intent.

Annoyed said...

And one of the loops I belonged to resurrected this stupid issue again. It's like DUDE IF YOU CAN'T EVEN MAKE A $2K PER BOOK IN 2 YEARS, YOU AIN'T MAKING ENOUGH TO BE A PRO.

Are people really that delusional?

I'm having a similar response as when I read some complaints about royalties were being 'held' by a certain ebook publisher until $25 had been accumulated...

Yeah...people can't even make $25 on ebooks. That's fricking pathetic since they get like 30-40% royalty.

Besides, why do epub authors need to know about print runs and sell-through? (the most common arguments I've seen so far -- that epub authors deserve to know about print runs, sell-through and meet Borders romance buyer -- did anyone tell them that Borders don't sell ebooks (their online store doesn't count since they at the most make up about 5% of book retail), ebooks don't have print run or sell-through?)

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