During a recent interview, I was asked what I would have done differently if I could back to my beginning days. Not that I’m such a veteran now—I still feel like a green newbie most days—but there are a few things you learn by the time you hold your debut novel in your hands.
My biggest regret? Not joining some professional organizations sooner. You know, before the book deal. Back then, I would look at that fee—about eighty to a hundred bucks—and I’d tell myself I would join when I had advance money.
But these organizations, like Mystery Writers of America, SCBWI, and International Thriller Writers, all offer some cool perks to beginning writers.
They have a great magazine that I still read cover-to-cover for writing and marketing advice. There’s a publication guide that rivals Writer’s Digest’s stuff (no offense to the awesome WD people)—and that’s just the beginning. There are scholarships for (un)published writers, awards, local chapter meetings. Talk about your instant squad of the best cheerleaders ever.
The picture on the left is of my Southern Breeze friends.
ITW has a debut author program like no other. There’s a mentorship forum—this past year, I’ve had questions answered by Lisa Gardner, M.J. Rose, and a Skype group conference with Lee Child. I know, you’re a little jealous. ITW has a cool blog, will Tweet your book release up… I could go on a while, but you get the idea.
MWA is the authority on all things mystery. It offers members a spot on their website, and they’ll feature your debut when it’s out. Plus, you get to enter your short story for their anthologies. Pretty cool.
Now, I don’t suggest you eat peanut butter sandwiches to join these organizations—sometimes, the pesos just aren’t there in these gnarly economic times. But if you can afford to join a writer’s organization, I urge you to do it today. Especially if you have a local chapter (alas, I’m too remote from most…)
How about you, fellow writers? What’s your favorite writers’ organization, and why?
Represent your peeps, all.