mwa_logo4On my to-do list for about a year now is this entry: Join Mystery Writers of America. Part of the delay has been my reluctance to write a $95 check for the yearly dues—without knowing there is a definitive benefit (other than the fact that I really like the women who run the organization). The other issue is whether I qualify to be an active member. Without that status, the money spent may not worth it. My publisher for the next Detective Jackson novel is Echelon Press, which is currently not on MWA approved publisher list.

So I was surprised and delighted to find Echelon—and a bunch of other small presses—on the approved commercial publishers list for International Thriller Writers. The puzzling thing is why the lists are different. In reading the fine print at MWA, it’s clear that the organization has certain standards for the amount of money an author has to have earned to qualify: $1000. What’s not clear is whether you have to meet all the criteria or just one. Another interesting note: Many of the publishers on the MWA list don’t publish mysteries.

Still, if one crime-writer organization considers Echelon, Deadly Ink, Harriman House, iBooks, Three Rivers, and Ugly Town to be commercial publishers, why wouldn’t another? What’s the advantage in limiting membership? I’m really asking here. I’d love for a representative of MWA to stop in and explain why Echelon, for example, doesn’t meet their standards. Here’s links to their lists to compare:

On a related subject, I decided to register for Left Coast Crime, but only if I could be listed as an author and get on panel. This convention has rules too for that too. One of which is that MWA members are automatically accepted. The good news is that I qualify anyway because the main criteria is this: Anyone whose books are published by a firm that pays standard advances and royalties is qualified to be listed as an author at Left Coast Crime.

So I wrote the check. I also applied to International Thriller Writers, which has no mandatory fees. Cross your fingers for me. I really want to be part of the club.

Do you belong to either of these organizations? What do you get out them?

  1. I like MWA and am happy to be a member, but I don’t take advantage of their benefits . . . so I really can’t tell anyone what they are. The ED is fantastic and very knowledgeable, and every time I’ve had a question, she’s been available to answer. So I keep up my membership. 🙂

    I’m a very active member if ITW and since I write more thriller than mystery, I fit more in with ITW. For published members there are many, many more opportunities to promote yourself, get involved, find new and different ways to be involved in readers circles, writers circles, etc. They seem to be more aggressive in promoting thrillers and authors in general, and come up with some innovative ways to support their authors. It’s true you don’t get as much benefit if you join and don’t do anything–but some things don’t take much time. They ask for books to be sent for their “win a thriller library” monthly contest. They’ll promote upcoming releases for free, or you can also buy a little ad relatively cheap. They have other opportunities–both paid and free. I haven’t taken much advantage of the website because that’s the one thing I haven’t taken the time to figure out how to use. I’m going to my third thrillerfest in two weeks (yeah!) Most people tend to be more laid back in thriller writers, and I just think I fit in there better. I love RWA as well–but I get different benefits from each organization. As far as ITW is concerned, I think they are the single best group for published authors.

  2. Allison, thank you for sharing so much information! ThrillerFest is on my list for next year.

  3. I’ve belonged to MWA for years. Got in as an active member before they got so fussy. I like the Edgar’s week symposium and am an officer in our regional group, which has great programs and congenial people. Our local MWA group also sponsors the New England Crimebake wih Sisters In Crime –I belong to that group too, and the Internet chapter. I used to belong to the National Writer’s Union, but dropped that org. because things were getting out of hand.

    Occasionally I go to Sleuthfest (MWA Florida event).

    I’m writing my first thriller. In the event that it is actually published, I’ll join ITW. The conference in New York always falls at the wrong time, and is pretty pricey , too.

  4. I’ve belonged to MWA for about 4 years, and I just joined ITW (and I’m, uh, thrilled).

    I’ve been very pleased with what I’ve gotten out of MWA. I attend local chapter meetings when I can (Mid-Atlantic), and they put on a nice writing conference in the fall (Dying to Write). I’ve been to Sleuthfest a couple times, and I make use of the EMWA listserve to stay current on issues. It’s great to be able to network with other mystery writers–to see what they’re up to and to hear stories about their exploits in the publishing world.

    And I’m really looking to become involved with ITW. The have an active Debut Authors program, and all the people I’ve worked with there have been very welcoming.

    So, in my opinion, being a member of these organizations is practically essential! And well worth the dues. (It’s hard to beat ITW’s dues–free!)

  5. I’m a member of RWA and my local GSRWA and PenRWA groups. I’m so glad I’ve joined because of the networking and educational opportunities. I’m still a new and unpublished writer so that’s so important to me. The writers I’ve met are so generous and supportive! I couldn’t imagine writing without this community of support!

  6. I’ve not been thrilled with MWA’s accepted publishers’ list from its inception though I’ve been a full member for years. Sisters in Crime has done something similar with their books-in-print as to who can be in the printed variety and who can only be in the online list.

    The fact that so many of the cons started using the list to weed out authors from being able to appear on a panel was also disturbing. In fact, after Bouchercon in Alaska, one very famous author stated quite publicly that she thought numbers were down among “legitimate” authors because so many small press authors came. So does that mean small press authors are not “legitimate?”

    The cons have taken on different ways of looking at things: An advance isn’t necessary as long as the press publishes more than 5 authors and pays royalties–or some such variation. What I’ve heard is that most are just trying to weed out self-published authors. Actually, I’ve read some darn good books by self-published authors.

    None of my publishers are on MWA’s publishers list and frankly, I don’t care. Such a ruling is elitist. I know all my publishers as friends, I can email about anything, I have input on my covers, and I’m edited.


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