Disparity Within MWA: Trad-Pubbed vs Independently Pubbed

As you may have noticed, I’ve been absent from blogging for a little while. It’s not that I don’t love you, I do. I’ve had to deeply focus my time and energy into to writing and research. I also attended Sleuthfest this past weekend.

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On that note I have something to say that may not be popular, but I’ve got to get it off my chest in order to feel settled about it and the only way I know to do it is to put it out there. When asked on an interview if there was anything I hated about writing or the industry, I found it difficult to use such a strong word to describe anything about the process. I love it….everything; writing, researching, editing, the whole shebang. But there is one thing that bothers me most.

I don’t like how people put down the self-published without giving authors an opportunity. They ridicule without even having read the author’s work and lump all exclusively self-published authors into one pile of trash. Yes, I understand there is some crappy work out there by independent authors. There are also lots of crappy work out there by the traditionally published. I wrote a good book. I worked hard to build a team to beta read, professionally edit, design a cover, professionally narrate the audio book, publicize the work and did everything I know to create a nicely polished product to present.

I’m happy to report Naked Alliances has received glowing praise from authors and book reviewers across the nation. Some top magazines like Midwest Reviews and The Island Reporter have featured either myself as author or the book.

Yet, many writer organizations won’t represent the work as it is self-published. I’m not allowed to enter their contests or sell my books in affiliated book stores because it’s not traditionally published or doesn’t meet the “must prove they have sold 5000 copies of their books” requirement.

I haven’t joined some popular organizations because of these restrictions. Until they change their attitude toward the independently published I won’t and I’ve let them know it. Send in high membership dues, provide time and energy fully supporting and promoting their organization when they won’t do the same for me? How hypocritical of me to do that.

I’ve attended Sleuthfest two years. It’s sponsored by Mystery Writers of America. I have not joined their organization for these very reasons. Maybe if I did, and became more active, I could help change the attitude they have toward self-published. I was planning to act as an official volunteer at Sleuthfest last year. I was told that only MWA members could act in the volunteer capacity at their events. I decided to check them out first, before making a decision to join.

I read their entire web site and decided against joining until I could see how my book would be published as their rules for self-published authors are far more stringent than those for traditionally published and contests are only open to those who are published by a MWA approved publisher.

There is no hint of equality.

This year, I was told that non-members could be on panels, so I signed up for one. Then I received a letter informing me that panelists had to be published by a MWA approved publisher. I contacted the Murder on the Beach Bookstore that sells attendees books during the conference and was told, yes, they do carry books by self-published authors, provided they are on a panel.

Do you see the problem here?

Time went on and I sucked it up and decided I would go to the conference and enjoy myself. I even made a FANtastic Florida raffle basket to donate. There was more than $250.00 in merchandise in that basket for some lucky ticket holder.

I could still learn a lot and promote myself and my book, maybe even sell a few copies out of a box in my room. (Which I did.)

However, a few days before the conference, I received a personal message from the chairman of the volunteer committee. They were short on volunteers and could use my help. Maybe this was a golden opportunity to step up to the plate and demonstrate that I was a bigger person. I asked, if I volunteered, could they place my books in the books store?

Nope. Can’t do that. “But I’m on the board now and maybe things will change for next year.” (And maybe not.)

I declined to volunteer. Call me anything you please and tell me how I could have made a wonderful impression on the powers that be, but no. Independently published authors shouldn’t have to suck up or meet special criteria to qualify for perks of membership. So no, until things change, I won’t be joining your organization.

There are so many organizations out there that provide due respect. It would be hypocritical of me to join one that doesn’t. I’m happy to pay membership dues and actively participate in those that do.

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