I’ve heard of the Authors Guild for years, but I didn’t join it until earlier this year. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made as a writer. Let me tell you why.
Like most writers, I’ve spent many years trying to find a literary agent and getting published. For a while I had an agent, but she was unable to sell my manuscript, so we didn’t renew our contract.
This past January, I submitted my first romance novella directly to Lyrical Press. An acquiring editor sent me positive feedback, offering suggestions for revision. I was so encouraged by her response that I joined the Authors Guild in anticipation of getting published. I’m glad I did. Three months after my first email exchange with the editor, she accepted my novella, “In His Corner.”
Joining the Authors Guild
If you’re a first-time novelist and unagented, or if you intend to be a writer over the long haul, see if you’re eligible to become a member and consider joining. As for me, here are the reasons why I joined:
(1) To Have My Book Contract Reviewed: Contract negotiation can be confusing and frustrating, especially when you don’t have a literary agent. When Kensington Publishing Corp., which owns Lyrical Press, sent me a book contract in April, I got the support I needed from the Authors Guild. An attorney working for the guild reviewed my contract. This is one of my benefits as a member. The attorney was helpful in every way. She answered all of my questions; she reviewed my contract and offered suggestions within two weeks. This kind of service would have cost me a lot. Also, it would have taken more than two weeks for me to find the right attorney at the right price. For a minimal membership fee, I was able to get the professional help I needed in a timely manner.
(2) To Take Advantage of Member Benefits: I have a full-time marketing job that comes with full medical insurance coverage, but I sometimes worry about the vicissitudes of our economy. It’s comforting to know that I could get medical insurance through the Authors Guild if I need to. Other member benefits include: Web site services for a low cost; invitations to panels and programs; and access to the Back in Print program (for authors who have out-of-print works).
(3) To Advocate for All Writers: The publishing industry and the writing profession are in a state of flux. We tend to work alone, and therefore, we lack a public voice. This is where the guild plays an important role. It advocates for the basic things we need to make a living as writers: copyright protection, fair compensation, and free expression.
(4) To Have a Sense of Belongingness: We often work on our own, but we don’t have to be alone. Aside from the Authors Guild, I belong to Backspace, an online writers community. I also recently joined the Romance Writers of America and its Utah chapter. When I became a member of the Authors Guild, my name was added to its Membership Directory. It was a bonus to be on the same directory as Stephen King and Lemony Snicket!
Authors Guild Eligibility
The Authors Guild, formerly known as the Authors League of America, was founded in 1912. It’s a member services organization, not a union. There are three categories for acceptance: you’re published by an established U.S. publisher; or you’re a freelance writer published by periodicals of general circulation in the U.S.; or you’re a book author or freelance writer who has earned at least $5,000 in writing income (including self-published books) in the past 18 months.
I belong to the first category. I’m the author of four nonfiction children’s books published in 2005 by Rosen Publishing Group. My books were published nine years ago, so I wasn’t sure if the Authors Guild would accept my application. I’m glad it did.
To learn more about the Authors Guild, go to: http://www.authorsguild.org/
To read the eligibility guidelines, go to: http://www.authorsguild.org/members/guild-membership-eligibility/
Read other stories about the Authors Guild:
“Seahorse” by Nina Fazzi. Copyright © 2014 by Nina Fazzi. All Rights Reserved.