Tuesday, March 18, 2008

RWA Is Being Sued

There's an author out there who is suing Romance Writers of America (RWA) for discrimination against small presses because she wasn't allowed to submit her book to a couple of chapter contests because her publisher is considered by RWA to be a vanity press. (RWA considers any publisher who charges the author in any way in the publication process to be a vanity press.) RWA doesn't consider vanity or self-publishing to be supportive of building a writer's career. (Because the author is forking over money and it's supposed to flow the other way--from the publisher *to* the author.)

In some ways I agree. But, in other ways...who cares? If the author manages to write a good book with appropriate editing, why not let him/her enter the book into a contest?

Because the publisher isn't on the "approved" list of publishers.

Well, here's this: For a member of RWA to be eligible to join their Published Author Network (PAN), they must show proof that they have either A) received at least $1,000 in an advance OR B) earned $1,000 in royalties on one book. ($500 for anthologies.) So...why not use that definition for "approved" publisher? Forget all this vanity and self-publishing crap.

Or am I just all wet?


Maria Zannini said...

This makes sense to me. Sometimes simple is better. Unless there are some underlying issues I'm not aware of, I don't really understand what the big deal is.

Of course, I guess an unscrupulous author could buy $1000 worth of his books and call himself pro. But I think that kind of behavior always gets you in the end.

Sherrill Quinn said...

I know that the PTB at RWA National put a lot of thought into these things to try to protect as many authors as possible. *shrug* I don't know what the solution is. But...

There's no law that says a contest *can't* discriminate against small presses, is there? I mean, if it's RWA's contest, they should be able to say what kind of publisher is eligible and what kind isn't. Where they'd get into trouble would be by barring participants based on the participant's race, color, religion, etc.