I’m a member of a lot of different writing organizations….International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, National Association of Women Writers, Novelists Inc, Science Fiction Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Horror Writers Organization, and the Writers Guild of Acadiana. I’m probably forgetting one or two at the moment, but whew, just listing them tires me out! My primary reason for joining these orgs was to network with other writers. It didn’t take me long to figure out, though, that you get a lot more out of an org if you give them more than just an occasional appearance at a conference. In essence, if you volunteer for different projects, more information and contacts come your way.
One of the biggest challenges for any org, especially non-profits, is the lack of help. Volunteers are hard to come by. Everyone’s life is so busy that even the thought of adding one more responsibility to that mile-long TO-DO list makes me ill. But I think it’s worth it. A volunteer often stands at the front lines. They’re usually the first to know what’s going on in the org, first to hear the latest in the industry, first to meet some of the biggest names in the business. Plus they get a sense of satisfaction at having earned those perks and at having contributed to an industry that puts food on their table. Their voice is heard. They make a difference.
And let’s face it, if anyone plans to survive in this business for any length of time, it’s all about the who and what you know. Idealism wants to rest on laurels, holding fast to the belief that a writer’s work will speak for itself. Not true. Just look at the national best-sellers lists. Not all of those authors reached that pinnacle because of his or her vast talent in literature. Many of them got there because of who they knew. That said, it sort of makes sense to immerse yourself in many aspects of the business as you can, and writing organizations are the perfect venue with which to accomplish that. You never know what opportunities may arise.
Do you belong to a writing org? If so, what’s its biggest benefit to you?