Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Grump

This sums up how I feel this morning almost perfectly. It's been raining since late Tuesday night, my computer's giving me an ulcer, I've got projects coming out of my ears and I'm only about halfway finished with my Christmas shopping. Yep - the effin' bluebird of happiness - I'd like to squoosh him!


Okay, now the grumpfest is (almost) over. I think. I don't like being grumpy (though I must admit, I do it very well) but sometimes there is just no avoiding the grump.

This would be a good time for my latest bitchfest about RWA - although it's not really a bitchfest. It's more of a WTF??? fest because their latest has me thisclose to a major headdesk.

A quick recap - RWA's Rita award is given out to the best published romance (or novels with romantic elementsm I suppose) novels in a myriad of categories. It's kind of a big deal in the romance publishing industry, and let's face it, who doesn't like winning awards?

Okay, so we all know by now that in the summer of 2007, RWA did away with its "Approved Publisher" list. Now, this was a big deal because if your publisher was on that list, RWA considered you published and you were eligible for PAN (their Published Authors Network). Well, then they decided that this list had to go. Their reasons depend on who you ask - but some authors with epubs or small presses saw it as a slap in the face and (another) attempt on RWA's behalf of making sure epubbed authors were not seen as equally published with their NYprint pubbed authors. RWA did some backpedaling, and came up with their Non-Vanity/Non-Subsidy Publisher (hereafter shortened to NV/NS) list. Which means that epubbed authors are considered published, if their epub or small press pub was on this list.

So, what's the problem? you might ask. Well, I'm getting to that.

The Rita is for published authors only. Fair enough. RWA has the Golden Heart contest for unpublished writers. Okay. If your publisher was on that NV/NS list, you were eligible to enter the Rita.

Until now.

See, this year, RWA changed their Rita rules. Now, the rules stipulate that the only books eligible are those put out by NV/NS publishers and are "mass-produced."

Um... okay. And what number constitutes "mass-produced"? you might ask.

AHA! is what I would say in return.

Quite a few (understandably) miffed epublished authors put this question to RWA. Why this change? If a reason was given, I missed it. But okay, it happens. I miss RWAalerts from time to time - I hate my laptop and usually the feeling's mutual so it eats emails on me. And not only was this change made in a seemingly arbitrary way, it was also hidden in the "fine-print" (so to speak) - which is just sneaky, if you ask me. But that's another post for another day.

So, one of my publishers broached RWA about a definition of "mass-produced." It's an understandable question - the rumors went from a print run of 500 to one of 5,000. Now, for a NY print house, 5k is a small print run, but for a small press or epub, it's a huge run. And there were grumblings that the number was raised to 5k in order to, once again, mess with the epubbed/small press authors.

And to make matters worse, any of us under contract with an NV/NS house (Rita-eligible or not) were NOT eligible for the Golden Heart. Hmm... too published for the GH but perhaps not quite published enough for the Rita. Yeah. Makes perfect sense...

So, we waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Then lo and behold! RWA had an answer on the "what defines mass-produced" question.

Ready for this?


I'm not kidding. Their response was that they were going to form a task force to discuss the language and what it means.

This group of writers (remember, RWA is a writers' organization, whose mission statement is to help writers aspiring to a career in romance writing) doesn't know what their own language means!

I don't know if that's hysterically funny or sadly pathetic that they wrote this rule without even giving thought to what the hell they mean by it. And that's were the headdesk comes into play. These writers don't know the meaning of their own words and have to form a freakin' task force to figure it out. Yep - my nearly $100 in yearly dues at work. Ay yi yi. Is it any wonder some of us get so disgusted with this organization?

I broached this latest gem on AW, and it quickly became a NY Print Pub vs EPress/Small Pub argument. E-and-small press pubs should have their own contest. Um, no. No, they shouldn't. This separate-but-not-entirely-equal bs has to stop. RWA needs to accept that epubs aren't going away and some of them are of equal reputation as NY houses. They need to stop treating e-and-small-press published authors like bastard children who are playing at being writers.

My feeling is that RWA needs to go back to their Approved Publisher list. Tweak it if you need to (because there should absolutely be standards and those standards should be set high). I still feel they changed those standards because they never really believed epublishing would take off the way it has and no one is going to change my mind on that. But in doing so, they've gotten themselves so tied up, they don't know which end will loosen the rope or which end will tighten it.

Hey, what do you know?The grump is now gone... **takes a deep breath**

Sometimes all you need is a good venting...

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