Off to New York City
Last year, I was elected to the board of directors for the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the leading nonfiction writers group in the nation. If you’ve never heard me talk about the ASJA, it’s an unusual writers group. Here’s the key reason: you have to meet the professional qualifications or standards of the group in order to join. The majority of the writing groups have a wide open membership policy. If you pay, then you can join. It’s not like that with the ASJA. You have to meet the membership standards then you can pay and join. I’m well aware of these standards (follow this link) because I’ve been on the membership committee for the last several years. Each month we process applications and not everyone who applies meets the standard so they don’t become members.
The majority of the Society business is conducted through email or monthly phone conferences. Twice a year, the board has face to face meetings in New York City. One meeting is in November and the other is tied to our annual east coast conference. This coming Saturday I will be moderating a panel on contracts with three lawyers and a literary agent. It should be an interesting discussion about book contracts. Many people think these book contracts are black and white—when the reality is each one is different. The longer I work in publishing, the more I understand how little I know about this area. I will learn a great deal from the experience of moderating this panel.
If you can’t come to this conference, the next best thing is to read The ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing edited by Timothy Harper. Different ASJA members have written different chapters and each are excellent. I was a part of the ad hoc committee which selected Tim to edit the book but I must have been moving or deleting my email too fast or something when they assigned the various topics. I completely missed the opportunity to contribute to the wealth of information in this book. The bulk of the book is geared toward nonfiction writers but some of our members write fiction (Mary Higgins Clark is one of our best-known members in this area). I highly recommend you study each of the chapters in this well-done book.
As for my entries on the writing life, I doubt I will be able to do anything else until next week—but maybe I’ll surprise you.