Friday, February 26, 2010

Join us

I’m an avid reader of Regency Romance and in the back of an Eloisa James’ novel, she advised budding authors to join their local Romance Writers of America chapters. That truly is some of the best advice I ever received. So, in turn, I tell everyone who will listen to me the same thing. If you write romance and aren’t a member of a local RWA chapter – do look into it; and if there isn’t one in your area, look into a specialty online chapter. You won’t regret it.

I cannot stress the importance of such organizations, and not just because I’m now the President of my local chapter; but because I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. When I first joined my chapter in Raleigh, NC, I had yet to finish a manuscript. I had dozens of ideas floating around in my head, and I had several stories started on paper, but I really didn’t have a clue about the industry. I’m one of those Henry David Thoreau-types. I just want to sit in my lonely cabin by Walden Pond, live in my own little fantasy world, and write.

But writing the manuscript is just the tip of the iceberg. You have to know so many things these days – “Show, don’t Tell,” POV, GMC, etc. And that is just to make your manuscript submittable. Some people reading this might not even know what I mean by these terms. Then you need to know how to query an agent/editor. What should you say? How do you know who to submit to? How long should you wait before getting panicky? Then - and for me this is worst - how to write the dreaded synopsis. And all of that is before you get “the call”. Then you need to have suddenly earned a degree in Marketing. How do you get book signings set up? Do promo bookmarks really work? Does anyone know any good website designers? Trust me, the list is endless.

We have some amazing members at my local chapter and they treat us to some equally amazing programs each month. At our meetings, speakers present a variety of topics from finding your voice to characterization to navigating the treacherous waters of publishing. I have learned SO much from my chapter-mates and guest speakers. There isn’t enough time or space for me to list it all. They are wonderful mentors, indeed. And I would not be where I am today without them or their selfless guidance.

But the most important reason to join a chapter, in my opinion, is the opportunity to meet face-to-face with other writers. In a word – camaraderie. We writers see the world a bit differently than a lot of people, and it is so rejuvenating to spend time with other people who speak the same language we do. This business is tough enough. Talking to someone else who gets it is a precious thing.

Are you a member of a local or online chapter?

If so, do you find the organization as helpful as I do?

And if you're not a member, what is keeping you from joining?