SFWA Opens Doors to Self-Published Authors

SFWABig news from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America that’s a long time coming. Self and indie-published writers are now eligible to join the organization:

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.

See here for the application form.

From the site: Why Join SFWA?

Our mission is to inform, support, promote, defend and advocate for our member writers. Within that mission, there are two rationales which fall broadly into the personal and the societal:The personal
These are few of the ways in which Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America can help you as an individual writer.

TeleRead has more:

SFWA has had a bit of tempestuous history with self-publishing writers in recent months. Last year, I questioned the organization’s relevance given its frequent association with controversy and lack of support for exclusively-self-published writers. I soon discovered the organization was in the process of drafting new guidelines to let it accept those writers, though as with any bureaucratic process such things take time.

A little later, SFWA stirred more controversy with its endorsement of writer Douglas Preston’s anti-Amazon letter during the Hachette affair without first consulting its members, and its insistence that doing so was part of its writer-advocacy mission. Given that many self-publishing authors rightly or wrongly saw Amazon vs. Hachette as effectively an “us vs. them” argument, SFWA aligning itself with “the enemy” didn’t exactly win hearts and minds; even SFWA self-publishing advocate M.C.A. Hogarth expressed disgust at the decision….

The only way SFWA is likely to change is for enough new writers to make like John Scalzi’s “insect army” and join it to change it from within. If enough writers see the potential for what SFWA could be, and aren’t afraid of knocking heads with the opposition to get it done, maybe change could happen after all.

About Henry Baum

Author of three self-published novels and one traditionally published (Soft Skull Press, Canongate, and Hachette Littératures). Recipient of Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival, the Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction, and the Hollywood Book Festival Grand Prize. He lives with his wife Cate Baum in Spain. He's the founder of SPR.
  • DED

    It’s about time.

  • Doesn’t matter to most people struggling to write and to sell books. I’ve published three novels, one of them traditionally, and I still don’t qualify for any level of membership. But someone claiming to be an editor would have no problem. What would be wrong with allowing members who were working toward meeting the standards for full membership, as some sort of associate member, or whatever? It’s still elitist.