As of today, indie authors can qualify for either active or affiliate member status with the Horror Writers Association (HWA) based on earnings from their self published books. Previously, the only way to earn these member statuses from your books was to work through a traditional publisher.
I'm particularly happy about this change for a few reasons:
- I'm an indie author myself and have been for the better part of a decade. It's nice to see professional organizations, and other authors, become more accepting of different business models.
- I've been a long-time supporter of indie authors in general and have done my part to assist them for years through my former PR firm and through several of my own sites (like All Book Marketing and All Indie Publishing -- both of which were ultimately rolled into this site).
- I had the pleasure of serving on the HWA subcommittee exploring this issue, with Joe Nassise and Michaelbrent Collings, so I had an obvious interest in wanting to see our recommendations pass.
I couldn't be happier. And I want to offer a hearty "thank you!" to the current active members who voted to pass this measure.
What This Means for Indie Authors
Here is a quick run-down of the new membership requirements as they apply to self-published books:
- You must earn at least $2000 from a single work within two years to be eligible for active member status (with voting privileges).
- You must earn at least $200 from a single work within two years to be eligible for affiliate member status.
- Eligible book-length works include those at least 40,000 words long.
I'm not going to give you the full spiel on why it's worth joining the HWA. What I will do is tell you why I'm happy I joined.
- I've found the authors and other members there to be rather inviting (despite the fact that I joined as an indie author, coming from a writing career outside the genre).
- I've met some extremely talented individuals I otherwise would not have met. When you're working in a smaller niche community, you have more access to the people involved than you might through more generic social networks or even through their own blogs.
- I've gotten some great referrals for editors and other service providers who can bring incredible value to my own projects. I spend a lot of time doing my own research before hiring contractors for any project, and there's nothing as valuable as personal feedback from people you grow to trust.
I've seen plenty of grumbling online from authors taking the stance that any organization that didn't accept them previously isn't worth joining now. Here's the way I see it. No one's holding a gun to your head. You have to do whatever you feel is best for your own books and business. And what matters most here is that indies now have a choice. And I can respect whatever choice you decide is right for you.
This, like most organizations, is whatever you make of it. The connections were the most important thing to me early on. I expect to make more use of other resources later. If you'd like a broader look at what the HWA offers, you can learn more here.
A Few Closing Thoughts
I'm a big believer in influencing change from the inside. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to weigh in on this issue had I not been an active member. And this particular change is important to me, so I was grateful for the opportunity to even vote on this issue, nonetheless serve on the subcommittee.
As counter-intuitive as this sounds, I actually sidelined my own fiction in the genre when I decided to apply for membership. That's because my plan was to independently publish a short story collection. But under the existing guidelines at that time, my self published work wouldn't make me eligible for either affiliate or active status. And coming from a 15 year professional writing career I wasn't about to sign up at a membership level that implied I was anything but professional (stubborn as a mule as always).
That time wasn't wasted, even if it slowed down my progress in the genre. I put that time toward the mystery novel I recently finished drafting. And instead I applied for membership under the nonfiction article guidelines (not difficult to do when you have an existing stable of clients you can reach out to).
Being an active member, and having a voice in voting for changes like this, allowed me to be a part of an important decision that means other indie authors won't have to make a similar choice just to earn full status as the professionals they are. For that, I'm grateful. And for those who don't yet see the benefits of the organization, I hope you'll consider this an opportunity to join and be a part of the changes you want to see.
We weren't the first organization to make this move in the right direction, and I sincerely hope more writers' organizations continue to join us.
Do you think the HWA could benefit you in some way? If so, I hope you'll consider joining.
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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