While I was off gallivanting in cornfields, a controversy exploded in the online romance community last week. In case you’ve missed it, the online portion of it started with agent/author Deidre Knight’s open letter to RWA (Romance Writers of America), and RWA President Diane Pershing’s response. Today, Dear Author has a helpful guide to further reactions around the Internet.
At issue are RWA’s positions and policies on digital publishing. Currently, the organization does not recognize any e-publisher as a legitimate publisher (for the purposes of presenting at conference, taking pitches, etc.), because they pay on a no- or low-advance/greater-royalty model, instead of giving advances of $1000 or more for each book. This has resulted in a complete absence of digital publishing education at our upcoming conference. RWA’s current policies have also created ambiguity in membership status–members who publish with an e-press or small press are considered “published” in some respects, but not in others, leading to inequities in contest participation, etc.
I love RWA–both National and my local chapter. But I do think the national organization in particular could be doing far more to educate the membership about digital publishing and e-publishers. Today, digital publishing affects every published and aspiring writer of romance–we all need to understand e-rights contract clauses, the Google books settlement, DRM, and more. And I take issue with the president’s repeated assertion that e-publishing is not the venue of the “career-focused” author of romance. I’ve published with an e-press, and it was very much a career-focused decision–one I’d definitely make again.
I’ve pretty much summed up my thoughts on the issue before, so I won’t write them all out again. A few months back, I blogged about why I think digital publishing is good for romance, and then I blogged about why I think it was a good (career-focused!) move for me.
So I’m not going anywhere in RWA. I love being a member. Heck, the national conference is the highlight of my social year! I understand and appreciate the tremendous amount of work RWA officers put in, and I can imagine that wading through these thorny issues is a difficult task, to say the least. But I do intend to use my voice and vote toward the causes of improved education on digital publishing, recognition of proven reputable e-publishers, and acknowledgment that e-publishing is increasingly a valid and viable career option for many (though not necessarily all) authors. In my opinion, those things are necessary to keep RWA relevant in the digital age.