Why join RWA?

chocolate-rose-smallI had a great day today.

I gave my first writerly talk and I didn’t implode. Even though I’ve taught high school, every single time I address a group of people, I still get butterflies. It never goes completely away. I think people had a good time and hopefully learned something about pitching and querying. My main goal was to demystify what it involves and give people tips about being as prepared and as comfortable as possible.

I also received a lovely Chocolate Rose for our local chapter contest where published authors critique and judge first pages from the unpublished authors. Intrigue of the Dragon Court, my first baby, was awarded first. That’s the actual picture of the award. 🙂

And in addition to seeing my chaptermates, who are an energetic, lively bunch of people, an online writer buddy drove two hours to attend the meeting. She asked me over lunch about the benefits of joining RWA. Whenever I get that question, I start to gush. I know many romance authors have made it without being an RWA member and truly, it’s not for everyone. But it is for me, for these reasons:

  • I’ve always been close to a strong, supportive local chapter. The monthly workshops plus additional programs such as writing loops, critique groups, and mentorship programs are worth the membership fee times ten.
  • I need to see real people. I need the face to face connection to keep me motivated. I’ve met some of the most wonderful writers  through LARA who encouraged my writing and made me believe that real people can do this. When I moved, MORWA put me instantly in touch with a new group of friends who have pushed my writing in leaps and bounds over the last year.
  • RWA National Conference. Going to National conference every year for the last three years has taught me so much about the industry and the lowered fee for members makes it worth it.
  • One way to show this is not just a hobby. If I want to show that I’m a serious writer, membership to professional organizations seems like a must for me to put on my  writing resume.
  • And I’m all about the contest loop. You don’t have to be an RWA member to enter all of them, but again, the added cost makes membership worthwhile. Contests have been integral in getting my foot in the door with agents. I can track the effectiveness of my query process to the day that I started putting contest finals and wins on the letter.
  • Days like this. I learned tips from Angie Fox about how to craft a killer story that works from start to finish. I networked with friends and authors in every stage of their career, had tortellini for lunch and chatted about everything from poodles to e-publishers. Can’t beat this for a Saturday!

I know many, many successful authors walk this road without RWA membership, so I’m not saying you can’t get by without it. I’m just saying, I can’t get by without it. As with all things, you can get as much out of it as you want and I try to squeeze out every last drop and gulp it down.

Going to enjoy some chocolate now. If you haven’t joined, but were thinking of it, here’s the link –> RWA National Organization


  1. Lisa
    May 16, 2009 @ 21:36:58

    Hmmm…we definitely need to look into this. It would be SO nice to have some writer friends. Although for us SCBWI might make more sense. We’ll see….

  2. Lynne DuMae
    May 17, 2009 @ 00:46:53

    Yep, I had a lot of fun at the meeting today! I really enjoyed the talks, both yours and Angie’s. Very informative! I’m giving serious thought to joining. Even though it’s a long drive, it would be worth it. Seeing you all today just pushed me farther in that direction. Even if I could only make it every other month it would still be good.

  3. Jerri
    May 17, 2009 @ 06:44:52

    Jeannie, I enjoyed your Coffee talk on pitching, though I got there late and only heard the last half. Yesterday was only my second meeting since I joined MORWA, but I’m learning a lot.

  4. MORWA meeting! « A Passionate Twist on Romance Suspense
    May 17, 2009 @ 07:26:38

    […] into going to MORWA again–with a nudge from my husband. I was late to Coffee talk in which Jeannie Lin had a presentation on Pitching your story at conferences. It was very interesting and […]

  5. Jeannie
    May 17, 2009 @ 08:22:18

    Lisa: RWA membership encompasses writers from across many genres. What story doesn’t need a little romance? I’ve heard good things about SCBWI too.

  6. Jeannie
    May 17, 2009 @ 08:25:43

    Thanks for stopping by for the coffee talk. It’s very informal. If there’s any questions, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.

  7. December
    May 17, 2009 @ 14:25:12

    I’ve been a member of RWA for over a year, but I don’t live near any of the local groups. I joined mostly to show myself that I’m taking this seriously.
    In June I’m going to the WisRWA, and I’m really hoping to meet some great people in the area as well as network the bejesus out of it.
    And heck – if I meet some great people, maybe I’ll make the hour and a half trip for the monthly meetings.

  8. Kimberly Killion
    May 17, 2009 @ 20:08:28

    I can’t believe you haven’t taken a bite of that yet!!!
    As for joining RWA…I’m with you all the way. I couldn’t have done it without my MORWA girls! Love them!!!!

  9. Jeannie
    May 17, 2009 @ 20:31:30

    December – I hope you have a great experience at WisRWA.

    Kimberly – The chocolate rose definitely no longer looks like that. I wanted to document it for posterity before I took a nibble!

  10. Jax Cassidy
    May 17, 2009 @ 20:51:22

    You hit all the right points about the pros of joining a professional organization. RWA was the first thing I signed up for and then found out about LARA from their website. I know it’s not for everyone but it’s a good start for those who want a serious writing career.

    I’m not surprised you placed first…you’re obviously on a serious roll and it’s a matter of time before you announce a sale!

  11. Jeannie
    May 17, 2009 @ 21:01:50

    Thanks Jax! I wish it were so and I continue to hope. 🙂

  12. Megan Kelly
    May 17, 2009 @ 22:24:58

    Jeannie, I agree whole-heartedly. Connecting with MORWA friends when I was blocked helped remind me there was a writer somewhere inside me. I wouldn’t be published today if I’d stopped coming to meetings then. You just can’t beat face to face support. Our group giving such informative presentations like yours and Angie’s is just icing on the cake!

  13. Angeleque Ford
    May 18, 2009 @ 10:21:03

    All great points. Though I haven’t had quite the experience you have, especially with the local chapter and conferences (too expensive for me to attend). I do think RWA has it’s benefits.

    If people see it in my query and it helps them think I am a more serious writer and am professional, then I think that’s great.

    And I have been getting into the contest thing more (though cost there has been hindering me a bit lately).

    And I think your last few lines are telling – you have to walk the road that’s right for you and your writing career. You get out of it what you put in. So for me, right now it’s been working. I’m just gonna have to come up with an RWA fund for fees and conferences.