Yesterday we talked about writing in the romance genre, today I’d like to focus on writers organizations. Pat, you’ve been involved in several organizations. If I remember correctly, you were newsletter editor for the West Houston RWA chapter and held several offices in the local chapter before you went on to hold a number of positions in the national organization (Romance Writers of America). Since I worked with you, I know how dedicated and tireless a worker you have been and, I believe, you still continue to be. Why were you so active and why have you continued to remain so connected to the organizations? Did it help you become published? Do you have any suggestions or advice for others regarding professional organizations?
From the moment I joined Romance Writers of America I realized what a great organization it is and how much help it gives to aspiring and published authors. Because West Houston, my local chapter, didn’t have a newsletter, I volunteered to start one–not just because I felt one was needed but because I love to do newsletters. I still do, in fact. I served in that capacity for 18 months. I was also Vice President of the chapter for a year, but that came later. In between, I ran for the RWA national board and was elected. I served on the board for three years during which I chaired the national contest and awards ceremony (twice), chaired the Professional Relations Committee, chaired the insurance committee, and chaired the site committee. In recent years I’ve also held several offices in PASIC (the Published Authors Special Interest Chapter of RWA). Currently I’m the past president and still on the PASIC board.
Why have I been so active in the organization? It’s simple. I have gained far more than I’ve given. No, I don’t think holding office and/or volunteering helped me sell. But belonging to RWA and receiving the benefits of membership certainly did help me sell. Maybe I would have eventually sold on my own, but it would have taken a much longer time. So what did I gain by my volunteer work? Serving on the national board helped me see the big picture of publishing. It gave me an opportunity to meet many more publishing professionals than I would have otherwise. Chairing the site committee helped me hone my negotiating skills and helped me learn to read the fine print in contracts. But the most important benefit of holding office and/or volunteering are the friendships I’ve made.
I believe strongly in the value of being an active participant in the organizations you belong to, and I encourage all of you to try it and get involved. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.