Thursday, July 8, 2010

Writing Groups; Just an Expense or Helpful

It's nearly the time of year when I have to write the check for my membership in RWA. For those of you who are members, you know it's a hefty fee. For the past three years I've  held a debate with myself on whether to renew or not. I haven't written romance for a long time though some of my romance books are still on the market. All my recent novels have been in the genre I love most, fantasy. Should I rejoin RWA? The only reason I've retained my membership for this long is because I must if I want to continue with my local chapter, CPRW.
Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers is a wonderful bunch of committed authors. Many are published, many are on the verge and all are super supportive of each other. I know I would never have been published without the guidance and knowledge they've shared with me over the years. So each year I cough up the dough for the national organization so I can remain part of the local group. It's a difficult decision this year especially in the current economic environment. Two kids in college further tightens the home budget.
The other writing group I belong to is Pennwriters, a state wide writers organization.  Members represent every branch and niche of the profession. Each year they host a weekend-long writing conference with excellent guests including agents and editors of major houses. It's a terrific conference. They also put out a newsletter to bookstores promoting the work of their published authors. Thanks to that effort, I was contacted by the Borders Store at the Lycoming Mall in Williamsport, PA to do a booksigning for The Keepers of Sulbreth this Saturday, July 10th from 1-3 p.m.  This is a great service provided to me as a member of the group. And the cost of belonging to Pennwriters is less than half of what it costs to belong to RWA.
So I have about sixty days to decide if I'm going to put the money out there for a large national group who really doesn't do much to help me. I would miss seeing my friends at our local meetings but a few of them also belong to Pennwriters and a few others I keep in touch with on FB and through blogging.  Pennwriters also have a few local groups I might start taking part in this month. It's a difficult decision but I must weigh the cost versus benefit before renewing membership. What about you? Do you put out a lot of money to membership in professional organizations? What kind of benefits do they provide beyond moral support?
And don't forget to drop in at the Borders on Saturday for my booksiging at the Lycoming Mall in Williamsport.


Ann Stewart said...

I'm signing up for RWA this month. Two romance novels published and I think it's time. I also work with a great group of writers online. The best part is the membership is FREE. I do pay $20 every three months to have a few extras, well worth the money, and without my friends at the Romance House, a review group within the website, I never would have written past chapter 2. Now I'm working on my third novel and I've already had a request from a agent when it's done. For me, writing groups, good ones, are well worth the money. Go ahead and pay the dues!

Unknown said...

Hi - I also belong to RWA. I'm not published in Romance but my chapter is wonderful - the main reason I stay with RWA. I also belong to Pennwriters and I agree its a great group, although I haven't even touched on all of its benefits. My feeling is same as Ann's, go ahead and pay the dues. I got the feeling from your post that your chapter is good for you and it would be a shame to have to give it up.

I also live on top of the Susquehanna. Its a beautiful river. But I'm in N. PA, on the NY border.

Cate Masters said...

Great post, Susan. I've never joined RWA because of the exorbitant cost, so I can't comment - except that the cost was too exorbitant to join!
But now I'm thinking I need to rejoin Pennwriters. :) It is a great group.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It's great to hear everyone's opinion's. I do love my local group and they are the only reason I will stay with RWA. Pennwriters is such a reasonable price I can't imagine giving it up.

Jon Sprunk said...

I joined SFWA last year. At first I was jazzed because joining was one of my goals as a writer, like I had 'arrived.' A year later, I'm not so sure. I'll stay a member for another couple years, and then re-evaluate.