Our chapter has grown quite a bit over the past couple of years. We love seeing new faces at our monthly meetings and getting to know new romance writers. And as our membership increases, the board wants to make sure that everyone is aware of the different levels of membership available, how to qualify for different communities of practice, and how you can benefit from the different networks offered by RWA.
Associate vs General Membership
First, it’s important to understand that there are two levels of membership within RWA at the national level. General membership is open to all people who are involved in the serious pursuit of a career in romance writing. (We’ll get to the definition of “serious pursuit” in a minute.) General members reap all the benefits of an RWA membership, including the right to vote in our elections, and the ability to run for a position on the board.
Everyone else falls into the Associate membership category. This includes writers who cannot prove the serious pursuit of a romance writing career, as well as other industry professionals, such as acquiring editors, publishers, or agents. Associate members enjoy most of the benefits that General members do, but they aren’t allowed to vote or run for office.
What is Serious Pursuit?
So what does this “serious pursuit” thing mean, anyway? In simple terms, it means you have to show RWA that you’ve got some finished projects. After applying for membership, you will have to submit to the national office either:
- One complete original work of romance fiction of at least 20,000 words, or
- Multiple complete original works of romance fiction which combine for a total of at least 20,000 words.
A few short stories or a novella should suffice. When you’re ready, you can upload your manuscript at the Proof of Serious Pursuit page on National’s website. This will be enough to qualify you for General membership. It will probably also be enough to qualify you for PRO, or maybe even PAN.
PRO vs. PAN
PRO and PAN are communities of practice within the organization who “come together with a common interest to share ideas, find solutions, and build innovations.”
By uploading your finished manuscript to the RWA national office, you’ve qualified for PRO. PRO is for “almost published” members – those who have a finished manuscript and are ready to take the next step toward pursuing publication, be that indie or traditional. There is an active online community at the national website for members of PRO to discuss queries, edits, and other pre-publication topics. We also have a PRO community within our local RWA San Diego chapter. Historically, we’ve hosted the PRO Breakfast prior to our monthly meetings, where members get together to discuss relevant issues and listen to speakers discuss their experiences on the path toward publication. Starting in 2017, the PRO Breakfast will no longer be taking place, because we no longer have a PRO Liaison. (If you’re a PRO member and are interested in taking over this position to keep the PRO Breakfast alive, please let us know!)
For those members who are already published, the Published Authors Network, or PAN, is right for you. PAN functions as a way for published authors to protect their common interests, to keep communication open between writers and publishing professionals, and to help build relationships and spread knowledge as we navigate our romance writing careers. There are also two levels of PAN Membership:
- Provisional: This is for RWA members who are contracted for an as-yet-unreleased romance novel or novella with an advance of at least $1000, or published authors who have not yet earned $1000 on a single title.
- General: This is for RWA members who have a published, commercially available romance novel or novella for which they have earned at least $1000.
The only difference between these two levels is that Provisional PAN members may not participate in the RWA trade-show booth, vote in the PAN elections, or run for PAN office.
RWA San Diego has a vibrant published authors community called PALS. Our current PALS Liaison is Jillian Stone, and she organizes fun and informative get-togethers for our published authors.
So if you’re an Associate RWA member who qualifies for PAN or PRO, what are you waiting for? Get those applications going and take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities available to you through RWA – both on the national and local levels.