Awesome Professional Associations for Authors and Writers

Awesome Professional Associations for Authors and Writers

Have you ever joined a professional association hoping to gain the secret sauce for success? I have. In my lifetime, and over decades of professional pursuits, I’ve been a member of more associations than I can count. Sometimes, the industry licensure or employer require certain memberships and so you pay the fee, read the literature, and sometimes attend a conference or meeting.

Maybe you’re like me. You’ve joined a few that seemed like a colossal waste of time and money.

But if you’re an author, writer, journalist, illustrator, or anyone in the publishing industry, those days of wasted membership fees are in the rearview mirror. How can I say this with such a confident air? Well, come on. You’re in good company—creatives rubbing shoulders with other creatives who love to read! Book, magazine, poetry lovers, you’ve found your people. And boy oh boy, these people know how to have fun!

Still, you may have a small budget and can’t join every professional association out there. So how do you choose the best conferences and groups to invest in?

As always, I turn the mic over to my friends and experts…

“I am a member of three excellent organizations: The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators; The Authors Guild; and PEN AmericaAll three advocate for authors in a variety of ways. PEN supports freedom to write, holds festival and events, and gives awards and grants. The Authors Guild has helped me personally with contract reviews. The Guild offers useful advice on publishing scams, website building, and domain registration. In fact, I registered my domain through them. SCBWI was the very first writers’ organization I joined. I went to many of their conferences and made important contacts with editors, as well as other authors. They have great publications on how to get published. These are just a few of the services that these organizations offer. Each has different levels of membership and I suggest investigating their websites to find the one that is best for you. I think you’ll be glad you did!” ~ Marilyn Singer, winner of the 2015 National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry and author of more than 120 books. 

“As a mystery/thriller writer, there are several organizations including International Thriller Writers (ITW), Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and Sisters in Crime (SinC). I belong to all three, and each has something to offer. For me, ITW has had the largest impact on my career. Their annual meeting, Thrillerfest, is a tremendous opportunity to learn, interact with famous authors, pitch agents and editors, and meet writers at all stages in their writing career. The organization is made up of established authors who volunteer their time to teach and help us all advance. There is a critique group system, opportunities for publicity, webinars on craft and business and the writing life. In addition to learning and “fan-girling, Thrillerfest created the contacts to request incredible blurbs for my novels–Lee Child, Steve Berry, Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner, Heather Graham, Kathy Reichs, even Michael Connelly. Regardless of the organization, don’t just join, get involved.” ~ Tammy Euliano, MD, is a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Florida and the award-winning author of the Kate Downey medical mystery/thriller series published by Oceanview.

“I belong to the Wisconsin Writers Association, the Chicago Writers Association, and Authors Guild. The two associations both have great annual conferences–one in spring and one in fall. Authors Guild is worth the membership fee just for the availability of free legal advice. When you have questions about a contract or agreement, the AG staff will give you a complete, thorough, personalized analysis of the document’s features, so that you can really be well-informed when negotiating with a publisher or agent. AG also has a great daily discussion board, a wonderful membership directory, personalized author websites, and many other benefits.” ~ Larry F. Sommers, author of Price of Passage: A Tale of Immigration and Liberation.

“Many associations have been beside me, riding shotgun during my writing journey. First there was Pennwriters. They taught me the craft and the inside road to the publishing world, how to find a publisher and an agent, and how to avoid the “toll booths” in the writing world. Sisters in Crime gave me the mystery-speak and helped me fill the procedural gaps of my novel; they helped me navigate around the potholes in the road. I gained sisters, cohorts, and a crime network in my journey because of SinC and Pennwriters. Then along came Authors Guild and Mystery Writers of America with professional advice for the final journey. Together we sped down the turnpike toward my publishing dream.” ~ Terry S. Friedman, author of Bone of Pendant Girls.

“I belong to a host of writers’ organizations because I receive good things from all of them. I benefit from information on writing craft and business. Better still, I find encouragement to take a run at the hurdles we must leap to keep our dreams alive. Sisters in Crime holds a special place in my heart. Because of SinC, I found two traditional publishers–and a whole community that understands me.” ~ Fedora Amis, author of Victorian Whodunits with a touch of humor.

“My suggestion to other writers is to find both national and local writing associations that fit with their writing goals, genre(s), and interests and to participate in a way that’s comfortable for them. My memberships to Authors Guild (AG), Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), Romance Writers of America (RWA), Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), and Writers’ League of Texas (WLT) have provided me with online and in-person classes that have helped me further understand the business of writing and the industry. The Author’s Guild has afforded me additional support through their website-building service and book contract reviews. These associations have also been invaluable in offering me access to thriving writing communities.” ~ Laurie Woodford, author of the travel memoir Unsettled and the romantic comedy Anita Farleigh Unpacks.

“I’m a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, a wonderful group that offers so many resources to indies, including free downloadable guidebooks on many subjects, excellent podcasts, weekly updates on publishing news and trends, advice, and free codes for uploads/updates on Ingram Spark, plus an excellent online conference that’s free to members. I’m also a member of the Contemporary Romance Writers, another group that offers an excellent free conference to members, plus discounted courses on all aspects of writing romance, critique partners, and more.” ~ Sadira Stone, author of contemporary romances with heart and heat.

“If you write mystery or one of its associated fields (suspense, thriller, detective fiction, etc.), you should consider joining Sisters in Crime (or Guppies, if you haven’t yet published). I’m on the board of SinC Chicagoland, and in addition to a monthly meeting for learning new crafts, sharing ideas, and finding new authors, we offer citywide coffee meetups, an annual workshop, a library of previous programs available to members, and Skype write-ins. These days both Sisters and Misters participate. I’ve made new writer friends, found beta readers for my books, learned a lot about the author journey, and have found being a SinC member to be invaluable!”  ~ GP Gottlieb. Author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and host for New Books in Literature, a podcast channel on the New Books Network. 

There you have it. Different professional associations are designed to meet the diverse needs of writers and authors, and yes, readers.

But you don’t have to go all in with an annual membership without testing the waters. Reach out to a local chapter (or virtual one) and ask if you can attend a few meetings first. Maybe sign up for a workshop or attend a conference to see if it meets your needs and will be a place to support, guide, educate, and empower you to grow on your author’s journey.

Readers, writers, authors, publishers, booksellers, and publicists, please share your awesome associations and conferences list below.

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2 Responses to Awesome Professional Associations for Authors and Writers

  1. Laura Duffy, Book Cover Designer January 10, 2024 at 5:54 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. As a cover designer working mainly in the indie author space I’m learning the value of groups like these. I recently joined ALLi and in the very short time I’ve been a member I’ve received legal support and advice, connected with other professionals that I’m excited to collaborate with, and gotten clients. These groups do indeed offer a safe space for authors in this (somewhat) new world of self publishing that is moving and expanding so fast.

  2. Kimberly Monaghan January 10, 2024 at 7:06 pm #

    Thanks, Laura for your commentary. For those not familiar with ALLi, can you share what drew you to joining?

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