Romance Writers of America and GLBT

Romance Writers of America (RWA) has started a new chapter called “Rainbow Romance Writers” (RRW) for the GLBT authors. Be still my heart.

I am sooooo not excited about this group. I’ve never been to a RWA meeting. Nor do I want to fork over the $110 membership dues ($85 a yr after first). Nor do I want to fork over the $25 additional membership dues to join RRW. I just don’t see the benefits. Perhaps later, maybe, if everything actually comes along. I don’t see that happening. I could be wrong and, in a way, I hope I am. And, no, I do not consider it a bad thing to wait to see what happens once the glitter stops falling.

RWA has argued letting in GLBT writers for years. Perhaps this “chapter” is their way of quelling the riots (that may or may not exist). So far, the website for RRW is promoting what seems to be all gay (male) fiction with perhaps a transgender and perhaps a bisexual novel listed on the “bookshelf” page. The “links” page lists Lambda Literary (but not GCLS) and a bunch of publishers (some even lesbian oriented).

What I find missing from the sparse website is this: what are the benefits (specific to RRW)? what happens to the GLBT romance books (of members) now? will they be put on shelves alongside het romance (how would the bookstores know?)? will Nora Roberts’ books be just a few shelves away from mine (alphabetically)? It all comes down to: will joining RWA and RRW create more sales and/or help me to be a better writer?

RWA membership has some benefits, depending on how one looks at them.

    Advocacy (contract assistance it seems)
    Romance Writers Report (newsletter)
    eNotes (email newsletter)
    Chapters (local, online, special interest)
    Members-Only Resources (“Find valuable information and resources only available to members.”)
    Contests and Conferences
    Subscription to Nielson Bookscan (for an addition $58), Publisher Alley (an additional $30 reduced rate), and Publishers Weekly (30% off subscription rate)

Nope, not for me. The money is too steep and the benefits are too minimal. I get more from my $10 a yr dues to Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) in the form of friends, networking, and a cool yearly conference. For another $30 minimum, I can join Lambda Literary Foundation and get emails and newsletters specifically for GLBT readers and writers.

2 thoughts on “Romance Writers of America and GLBT

  1. Well, our chapter is less than a week old, and we have no magic wands that I know of. So, no, I doubt your books (or mine) will miraculously be all over Barnes & Noble tomorrow. But gaining official recognition by the RWA is in and of itself a HUGE step. Yes, we want equal recognition and respect in the romance community. Yes, I hope that RWA and RRW will help make me a better writer and improve my career. But change never, ever happens by doing nothing and hoping that one day, things will be different. Someone, somewhere, has to get in there and work for it, and most of the work has to be done from the inside, one baby step at a time. That’s what we’re doing here. Hopefully, we will all benefit from it.

    BTW, our membership is very diverse. Probably at least a quarter to a third write lesbian and/or female-bisexual romance, and more than one writes transgender. Many of our number write in more than one genre. As with most RWA chapters, a great many of our number are pre-published, therefore have no books to display on our bookshelf. The bookshelf contains recent releases. As I’m sure you know, gay romance is enjoying a boom right now, and there’s a lot more of it out there than lesbian/bi-female romance. It’s a constant frustration for those who are looking for f/f books. When we have f/f releases to display, they will be up there proudly with the others, we simply don’t have any right now.

    If you have links you feel would be helpful to be included on the website, please feel free to use the “contact us” page to email them to the webmaster. Remember, we are brand new and the website is still a work in progress. Any resources you know of would be most appreciated!

  2. So you only list new books (on the bookshelf page) by members of the chapter? I would think it would be better to list all books (of the Romance genre) by any members of the chapter just so viewers like me get a better feel of what would happen for me as a writer. Then as the chapter grows, the emphasis can be shifted to new releases only.

    My thoughts on the website are thus: according to the SmartBitches article/interview, folks knew (that the chapter was forming) during the Princeton romance conference in April. Yet the website feels empty as if no one had a clue and did no prior research. Brand spankin’ new is one thing, raw and empty is something else. Nowhere does it say “help, our links are lacking! let us know what is out there!”. If it did, you’d find yourself with a lot more linkages to show off and use as enticement. Golden Crown Literary Society (lesbian fiction), Regal Crest Enterprises, LLC. (my publisher), Star-Crossed Productions (lesbian with some gay bookstore), L-Book, Blue Feather Books, Bywater, Intaglio…the list goes on.

    I also differ from you in that I don’t feel my Romance genre book(s) need RWA in order to sell. My book (sadly, I’ve only got one book out so far) has sold quite well and while not available on the shelves of Barnes and Nobel (their return policy stinketh), it is on their website and nearly every other bookstore website. If straight people are looking for same gender romance books, then they should start complaining at the front desk of brick-and-mortar bookstores for a bigger LGBT section. [having LGBT books, which are almost all from small presses, in big bookstores isn’t necessarily a good thing because of return policies. but that’s a discussion of a different stripe]

    So, from my perspective, from where I am, as I see and understand things to be, I don’t understand why a change needs to happen and why LGBT writers of same gender romance need RWA. Even with RWA, fame and fortune won’t fall down upon us. We still have to write good books with excellent characters and great plots that hold the reader in and make them sweat, laugh, cry, or all three at once. I get my writing instruction and gumption from GCLS, from other writers, and from various email groups and forum (fora?).

    At the same time, I am not one of those people whose opinion is set in stone. I am more than willing to have discussions and even have my mind changed and will gladly announce the errors of my ways. It just doesn’t happen very often. 😀

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