Sunday, June 21, 2009

Yet Another RWA Kerfuffle...

When I sat down to write this post, it was originally going to be a rehash of what is going on over at ESPAN, which is the Electronic and Small Press Authors' Network - a special interest chapter of RWA. Basically, Deidre Knight laid out how and why RWA's seeming stance regarding epublishers and epublished authors is shortsighted and frustrating. To be fair, ESPAN then invited RWA president Diane Pershing to rebut Ms Knight's post.

And of course, comments flew. At last count, there were 267 comments on Ms Pershing's post.

So I was going to write about that. But then I thought, What's the point? Why rehash the same old nonsense?

I've been a member of RWA for 9 years, and there are times when I wonder if my dues money wouldn't be best spent elsewhere, since I fall in that no-man's land of being epubbed, and therefore not nearly as worthy as RWA's print-pubbed members.

I've considered not renewing for the last two years, when the major portion of this whole mess originated. I've written about that, and why RWA ticks me off sometimes, and why I do renew year after year (my local chapter. I love my local chapter.)

If there's one question I would really like RWA to answer (and not the way Ms Pershing did it, which was to fall back on the old party line and resort to a bit of snark as well) is how the heck can one be "sort-of" published? Isn't that kind of like being "sort-of" pregnant?

If my publishers appear on their non-vanity/non-subsidy publishers list (which both do), doesn't that mean that, by RWA's own definition, theses are okay publishers?

So then, why does RWA refuse to accept that epublished authors are just as published as NY print published authors?

Because, if they do see it that way, you could have fooled me.

Take this year's Rita contest. Remember the whole snafu over that sneaky little phrase "mass-produced", that they snuck into the rules? And yes, it was snuck in. No one I talked to about it could recall or produce any sort of evidence that RWA had made any kind of announcement regarding this change to the rules. And when they were called on it, not only did they begin the rapid backpedal, but they couldn't even define their own wordage. As far as I know, to this day, they've yet to define their own wording. Last I heard, they were forming a committee to figure out what the hell they meant. Fills me with confidence, really.

And then there's the whole PAN eligibility nonsense. Up until 2 years ago, the requirement? Signing a contract with an RWA "approved" publisher. Now, in order to become an RWA-approved publisher, there were guidelines that had to be followed about number of years a publisher had to be in business, and a certain number of titles sold (or perhaps it was a certain number of one single title that had to be sold. I can't remember and I don't even know if I'd be able to find an old copy of the rules.)

Well, then certain epublishers met those standards. Then the Triskelion fiasco happened, and (in my opinion) RWA saw that as their out, saw that as their reason to change those standards that had been perfectly fine up until those nasty little epublishers started reaching them.

Now, before someone jumps all over me, I am not for one moment suggesting there shouldn't be standards. There most definitely should be. But, I don't understand how Samhain was acceptable prior to Trisk's demise, and all of the sudden unacceptable after. I'll have to call BS on that one, Bob. It was an excuse by RWA to keep out what they consider the "riff-raff" and I'd like to see anyone justify it any other way. Yes, what happened to Triskelion was terrible, and what happened to Trisk authors was terrible, but to use that as justification to yank away eligibility to other publishers (epubs, only, mind you. Epubs only), well that just sucks.

So all I really want RWA to explain is how can I be too published for their Golden Heart, but not quite published enough for their Rita? And why the hell can't they explain what "mass-produced" means? And really, how can you be "kind of" published?

RWA is supposed to be the advocates for writers pursuing a career in writing romance. Well, how can they sit back and decide I'm not career-oriented because Samhain is my publisher? Especially when I'm in the midst of writing three books now? Is that not career focused? And for Ms Pershing to suggest (as she's done just about every time she's penned a column in the about it) that I'm a fool for going with Samhain, well, that's hardly what I'd call advocacy. What RWA should be doing is finally pulling their heads out of their collective asses, and realize that, since epublishing isn't going away any time soon (hell, even the NY big boys are doing digital books now), they'd be doing their members a great service to educate the membership about epublishing. That way, they'd be acting as advocates to their membership. And who knows, maybe Ms Pershing would then realize just how insulting she's been to the epublished members of RWA. Maybe she is just ignorant of how she sounds, but I think it's a case of being ignorant in other areas and, instead of educating herself, just sticks her fingers in her ears and says, "LALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!"

Which is pretty sad, actually, because this could be RWA's chance to prove it isn't a dinosaur and that it is embracing a technology that isn't going away any time soon. RWA could become completely relevant to anyone pursuing a career in writing romance, regardless of which path that author chooses.


AstonWest said...

When groups set up standards, and then change those standards when people meet them, it's usually a sign that they don't really want certain people in their group at all...

SFWA is much the same way. To me, it doesn't make a big deal. I wasn't planning to join them anyway. As a friend of mine pointed out, readers don't bother asking me whether I'm a member. :-)

Kim said...

Exactly. The whole "no-we-don't-mean-that-but-watch-as-we-change-again" nonsense drives me crazy. And it's the same BS every year around this time... Hmm...