Friday, November 30, 2007

MWA's Publishing List

You be the judge. Is Mystery Writers of America (MWA) establishing a level of criteria or becoming elitist with regard to who can be on their panel discussions? Is that level of criteria too high or really just right to create a measure of quality control? In part, MWA has decided to "...develop quality control, criteria to determine who is a legitimate author and who is not..." based on the book's publisher to ensure that vanity and self-published authors don't end up on panels.

Seems to me, after all the discussions over the years about being a writer/author, that published or unpublished, if that's what you do, you're a writer. Seems to me, if you can publish your book (vanity and self-publishing have been around for a long time), you're an author. Seems to me, there are many coaches/managers/teachers who have a lot to say on how things should be done, although they may not have had the skill sets to perform well on the playing field, and I've seen some good writers who had absolutely nothing worth saying. Seems to me, MWA may be punishing their own lifeblood (authors) by using a yardstick to measure the performance of the publishing industry, not the viability of what the author has to say on an instructional level.

I don't know how they come up with panel members or whether it's a long and arduous chore or if they evaluate the panel members' performance after the fact, which would seem to be the best way to decide if a panel member is worth re-inviting. I'm not an MWA member for no other reason than because I've just not bothered to join. But it is their organization, and they can do with it as they please. But to me, discounting a great many AUTHORS (possibly as high as 50-70%) because of their PUBLISHERS seems backwards and counter-productive.

1 comment:

Lorraine_Bartlett said...

I thought the paperback reprint of my Five Star hardcover was a shoe-in on the MWA list. It's a Worldwide Mystery book, an imprint of Harlequin. It's a beautiful mass market paperback with a very nice print run. I was paid an advance (and a very nice one, too.) Yet I was shocked to find out that this particular Harlequin line isn't approved. Why? Because its books are only sold through their bookclub and online (and pushed by me).

Gulp.

I don't have to worry about being considered a "real" author (although my first book was published by a small arm of a big publisher), mostly because I've got a pending deal with a NY publisher. But even though Five Star is considered a bona fide MWA publisher, when I attended Bouchercon in 2006 I wasn't given a panel assignment. They tossed small press authors a bone by giving us "salons," which were relegated to backrooms with no air and uncomfortable chairs. They also refused to give us "signing" times.

I felt like a second class citizen (who paid a lot of money--all told--to attend the conference).

For myself, conferences aren't effective ways to sell books or find new readers. They are, however, great for networking with other authors, agent/editor meetings, etc. After seeing how promo material is treated (and tossed), I even question if it's worth the postage to send stuff to conferences I can't attend.

As for MWA, I can't see the benefit of joining until you're published, Rick. Sisters In Crime, and particularly their Guppies Chapter for (cringe) pre-published writers (never liked that term), will give you lots more bang for your membership buck.