Friday, July 13, 2007

Recent RWA Board Decisions - Part II - PAN Eligibility

It appears that yesterday there was open discussion about these new policy changes and definitions and they may be altered. Several blogs to read more about this are at:

I'm sure there are others. These are just a few that have been posted on various loops I'm a member of.

Regarding PAN eligibility. PAN is the acronym for "Published Author Network" within the RWA organization. PAN-eligible is defined by RWA as "a General or Honorary member who is eligible for PAN membership" as described in the RWA Policy and Procedures Manual.

According to the June issue of RWR, one of the goals of the proposed changes was to separate the eligibility requirements between "publisher recognition (eligibility)" for such things as entering the RITA awards and related RWA organization activities, and eligibility for PAN.

PAN mission statement as noted in the June RWR (and in the Policy and Procedures Manual):

PAN's purpose is to establish within RWA a network of communication and support to effectively promote and protect the interests of published romance authors, to open channels of communication between those romance authors and other publishing industry professionals, and to encourage professionalism on all levels and in all relationships within the publishing industry.

In other words, a network for "career-oriented" published authors.

Currently, the membership requirements include:

"Any RWA General or Honorary member who has published an Eligible Novel with an RWA-Recognized Publisher shall be eligible for membership in PAN. To prove publication, the member must submit a copy of the Eligible Novel's copyright page to the Office.

For purposes of determining PAN membership...there will be no grandfathering of books published by publishers that went out of business prior to the adoption of RWA publisher recognition standards."

An "eligible novel" is defined by RWA as:

a non-subsidy, non-vanity work of Romantic Fiction of 40,000 or more words that is offered for sale to the general public by a publisher through a readable or audio format, for which the author receives payment as stipulated in a written contract from a publisher, and is published by an RWA-Recognized Publisher.

RWA has indicated the following change to PAN eligibility policy:

There are two methods in which to become members of PAN (and I will excerpt the relevant parts of these options rather than reprinting the whole thing):

Option One: Any RWA General or Honorary member who has earned at least $1,000 in the form of an advance from a single romance novel or novella published by a non-Subsidy, non-Vanity Publisher may join PAN either as a full member (once the title is published) or as a provisional member for an eighteen-month period while awaiting publication of the title...

Option Two: Any RWA General or Honorary member who has earned at least $1,000 in the form of royalties or a combination of advance plus royalties on a single published romance novel or novella published by a non-Subsidy, non-Vanity Publisher may join PAN as a full member following the publication of the title...

The definition of vanity/subsidy publishers has far-reaching effects to all corners of the current and proposed policies of the RWA that will affect a wide number of currently published authors.

By the new definition of vanity/subsidy publisher (defined in yesterday's blog entry), slight though it may seem, essentially all small press and electronically published authors are denied professional support by this organization.

I will note that originally, according to RWR, the proposal threshhold income was for a $2,000 advance/royalty and I do note that this number has been halved to $1,000. Also, they are allowing either a novel or a novella which I believe opens to the current trend in publishing.

I do have a problem with the fact that this income is based solely on one book. When I made comments to the committee, I did suggest that the amount, rather than being based on one book, should have reflected an across-the-board amount, which would more obviously reflect a "career-oriented" person as opposed to a "hobby-oriented" career. One book does not establish a career in the majority of cases.

In my opinion small steps forward in some areas, yet major leaps backward in others. The new RWA definition of vanity/subsidy stops essentially every forward move to new policy. The rationale RWA uses to support a number of the proposed changes that other organizations do it this way, so we should, too, doesn't fly with me. It didn't work with my kids when they did something wrong either.

One thing I did mention in my comments to the committee was the "grandfathering" of members who had already met the criteria to join PAN. A serious problem in many instances was each time the board decided to shift the earth and scatter things to the four winds, everyone had to go back to square one, again and again and again. Organization morale seriously suffers because of that mentality. According to these recent decisions, as far as PAN eligibility, grandfathering will take place for those authors who were general members of PAN before July 10, 2007.

It is unfortunate that any ground they gained by the small changes have been far outweighed by the new definitions. I can only hope they reconsider.

One last point of note is regarding the RITA. It is the very last notation on the recent changes to policy:

After extensive discussion, the Board decided not to add an erotic romance category to the contests due in part to the inherently indefinable nature of erotic romance."

Hmmm, do they even realize they have a chapter devoted to erotic romance writers who have quite clearly defined the parameters?

Please, please, please, get your heads out of the sand, RWA, and see what's going on around you. Pay attention to the words you are using to define your policy. Don't you think it's about time? And if you've got someone else writing policy, pay attention, because they don't know the membership, but you are supposed to.

Oh, and this will end my rant on RWA recent decisions.


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