Tripping the SFWA Fandango
Not so long ago on my blog, I gave the sad history of my association with the organization that purports to represent all the Science Fiction and Fantasy writers of America.
If you don’t feel like clicking on it, (but you should!) I started out wanting into SFWA, was told it only accepted professionals. Eventually I viewed my acceptance (after 13 years of trying) as a sign that I was a professional. It was a badge of validation, too hard to come by in writing. Also, they had pretty good suites at cons, back when cons were necessary for keeping in touch with publishers who bought your work. And I heard they would mediate should I have problems with agent/publisher.
So I was like:
Then time went on, I found out that my publishers and my agents were also members, and it would take a lot more than funky quantum statements where the PRINT RUN changed (and not upward) every time to have SFWA even speak impolitely to my publisher. After all all the members worked for this limited pool of six publishers (ah, the good old days) so they couldn’t afford to offend anyone. And the health insurance thing never materialized and essentially I was paying 90 (?) a year for a directory of other SFWA members. Since at the time this was almost all of my professional colleagues, and the only way to contact them was to have their email address, I continued being a member. And hey, SFWA did go after small-press scumbags and put out warning lists for the real bad ones.
So I thought, okay, fine.:
Then… well, then the last five years happened. I started looking into indie, and having friends who wrote indie. Then I started publishing indie.
Somewhere in the middle of this I find that SFWA has inserted itself in a dispute between Amazon and a distributor, on the side of the — small, lit and lit — distributor to the point of removing the buy through Amazon buttons from their member pages. And I went “wait a minute! The organization that won’t mediate flagrant abuses by the people most of us have to work for is going after the most profitable indie outlet where people are finally making a living from writing?
And so I let my membership lapse, you know? I was tight on money and well…
Which is too bad because I missed the grand exit when SFWA went after Malzberg and Resnick for
swearing in church saying Lady and referring (in the most respectful tones) to a beautiful editor they’d known.
This meant I was also not able to resign in response to their kicking out a life member for getting in a p*ssing contest with someone who was just as rude and stupid (more so, if you consider speeches in which she does things like claim all of Australia is racist or where she claims it’s now legal to shoot her down on sight in the US. Yes, someone can be ruder and stupider than Vox who is a shock-blogger and a shit stirrer. Take for instance shooting her on sight… even if it were true that people could be killed with impunity in the US (it’s not, for those outside the US) people would have to KNOW she was black. Guys, younger son or I (if I got a perm) would have a better chance at death in those circumstances.) I’d have been sort of okay (not really, life membership is life memberhsip and after all some of the SFWA members earn membership WHILE IN JAIL FOR MURDER, but) with SFWA kicking them both out for conduct unbecoming of anything above kindergarten. I’d still protest kicking ANYONE out for thought crimes. But as it was she had the badge of self-identified minority. So she’s feted and treated as important, and he’s kicked out.
Take that with the Resnick thing and I was going “Um.”
And I missed quitting when they were all over social media bragging about giving the Nebulas to all females to make up for the years and years where females didn’t get awards, because, you know, people like Connie Willis, for instance, aren’t female. Apparently.
With the help of a fan, I did a compilation of all the women who won SF awards before then. (Yes, there are some males there — most notably China Mieville, I think, because the fan put in ambiguous names, and I only weeded MOST of them out because it was late, I don’t get paid for those articles and my keyboard was being funny.) But it’s still impossible to ignore how many women there are, particularly in the Campbell. So claiming you’re giving the award to an all-woman slate, even if there are better males to compensate for past injustice is just…
Since then I’ve watched from a distance while figures with influence over SFWA beclown themselves in various interesting ways. Not watched too closely mind, because I have work and I’m not that invested in the seriously misnamed organization.
At the same time, I watched friends indie publish and make way more than I did with my first few books. And I published my own indie novel.
And then yesterday Amanda sent me this link.
For those not on the book of faces, here is the announcement in its amazing … amazingness:
In a referendum with a third of voting members participating and over 6 to 1 in favor, the membership of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has approved bylaw changes that enable SFWA to accept self-publication and small-press credits for Active and Associate memberships in the organization. We are using existing levels of income but are now allowing a combination of advances and income earned in a 12 month period to rise to the qualifying amounts.
SFWA President, Steven Gould, states, “Writers write. Professional writers get paid a decent amount for what they write. For the past five years it’s been apparent that there are ways to earn that decent amount that were not being covered by our previous qualification standards. Though these changes took a substantial amount of time, I’m grateful to everyone who worked toward this end.”
According to SFWA Vice President Cat Rambo, “I’m very excited to see SFWA moving forward and adapting itself to the changing face of modern publishing. SFWA will be much richer for the influx of knowledge and experience that the new members who have focused on independent and small-press publishing will bring with them.”
Specific details will be posted at sfwa.org by the first of March, but the basic standards are $3,000 for novel, or a total of 10,000 words of short fiction paid at 6 cents a word for Active membership. A single story of at least 1,000 words paid at 6 cents a word will be required for Associate membership. Affiliate, Estate, and Institutional membership requirements remain unchanged.
Self-published and small-press works were already eligible for the Nebula and Norton Awards, SFWA’s member-voted genre award, and will remain so.
SFWA will open to applications from small press and independent publishing qualifying members on March 1, 2015. Further information will be available at that time here: http://www.sfwa.org/a…/join-us/sfwa-membership-requirements/
For membership questions not answered at the link above, please contact Kate Baker, at email@example.com. For information on SFWA or the Nebula Awards, or to request interviews or other information, please contact Jaym Gates, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So there you have it, ladies and some gentlemen who don’t hold any objectionable-by-the establishment opinions. You’ve worked hard. You made it (probably way more than 3k per book, if you’re like my friends.) And now you have your reward. SFWA has unbent from its Olympian height to say that yes, you’re a real writer and you can have your trophy.
You’re jumping for joy and breaking your neck to pay dues to an organization that will slander Amazon and make a spectacle of itself over correcting injustices that never happened, right? No?
I’m not saying they won’t get some people. Some people need validation. Hey, I did once upon a time. And some people — fewer in indie — can get brownie points with their employer (mostly if it’s a college, which is more usual with traditional authors) for being a “professional writer.”
But for the rest of indies, I’m going to guess joining an organization that confers no benefits other than a directory that has been superseded by social media and the approval of people who view SFWA as an organization for politically correct little girls and the men who wish they were politically correct little girls is something that holds little to no appeal.
SFWA’s ladies, girls, politically correct sewing circle will continue doing their dance.
But my guess is most indie authors will be going:
Yes, it could be different. Yes, SFWA could still redeem itself by finding the guts to challenge the increasingly more horrible contracts of traditional publishing, ditto the increasingly more horrible statements. Or they could try to get some sort of distress provision going for writers who work in one of the most unpredictable professions in the world. REALLY any sort of benefits. I’d settle for burial benefits when I die with my hands on the keyboard. ANYTHING but being a mouth piece for Marxist concerns over problems that either don’t exist or which they couldn’t fix if they tried.
But of course the problems they can’t fix are so much more fun to rail about because, well… they can be heroes and no one expects them to fix anything or do anything real.
That’s nice… I guess. But here outside SFWA writers write, and this hybrid author is late on two books, and her indie friends are pounding keyboard like crazy.
So we’re very grateful — don’t get us wrong — for SFWA’s condescension to us, the unwashed, but we would rather not partake if it’s all the same to them. Indie is hard, and we save our money for things with real value.
Nothing but love… but we’re sort of busy. So we’ll go do real stuff, okay? You
women, ladies, girls, people of vaginitude and those cowed by them carry on, okay? I mean, when we have time, we like having something to laugh at…