Whether you’ve been trying your hand at romance writing for quite some time or you’re new to the genre you might want to consider taking a look at the RWA.

The RWA is the Romance Writers of America organization. It’s a nonprofit trade association for romance writers.  While it’s a relatively young association, chartered in 1981, it has more than 10,000 members and can be a valuable resource for aspiring romance writers, published romance writers and even folks who are simply beginning to look at how to make a living writing romance.

What RWA Provides

The RWA offers:

Chapters – Chapters are local or online groups of the RWA that meet on a regular basis, provide resources including articles, reports and workshops to help writers improve their craft and further their career.  Chapters also often host contests which can attract the attention of publishers and agents and they often hold conferences where writers can meet not only fellow writers but also agents and publishers.

Contests – The RWA hosts an annual contest for both published and non-published writers; the RITA Awards and the Golden Heart Awards. These awards recognize excellence in romance fiction. While winning or being a finalist in this contest doesn’t guarantee publication, most winners have gone on to tremendous romance writing careers.

Industry Information – One of the biggest challenges to a writer is successfully navigating their publishing career.  The RWA helps answer questions like which agents are reputable, which publishers are best to work with and what respective agents and publishers are currently looking for.  Members receive the “Romance Writers Report,” a monthly magazine with articles about craft and the business side of romance writing and publishing.

Annual Conference – The RWA hosts an annual conference. This conference not only hosts a number of workshops and seminars, it offers writers the opportunity to meet with agents and publishers.  It’s a valuable learning opportunity.

Connections and Support – Being a romance writer is no walk in the park. It’s hard work and sometimes you have to deal with rejection and a lack of motivation. Connecting with local chapters or online chapter members can provide not only the emotional support you need to persevere but also the motivation to keep trying.  Your fellow RWA members can be invaluable.

Types of RWA Membership

This is where it can often get confusing.  There are several types of membership. Here’s a quick breakdown so you can find the membership that’s right for you:

General Membership – This is the most basic type of membership and it’s open to anyone pursuing a romance fiction career.

Association Membership – However, if you’re not a romance writer but are a writer in another genre or work in the publishing field you will want to apply for an association membership.

Affiliate Membership – If you own a bookstore or are a librarian then you’ll apply for an affiliate membership.

But What about PAN and PRO?

Here’s where it can get a little confusing.

PAN – Published Authors Network, was established to createa network of communication and support to effectively promote and protect the interests of published romance authors; to open channels of communication between those romance authors and other publishing industry professionals; and to encourage professionalism on all levels and in all relationships within the publishing industry.”

PAN is only for published romance authors however if you’re a published romance author, you don’t have to join pan; you can join as a general member. The choice is yours.

PRO – PRO helps romance authors who are pursuing publication – but not yet published.  To qualify for this type of membership distinction you must have submitted at least one completed manuscript, but have not yet been published.  PRO was created to help authors navigate the business side of romance, not the craft of writing.

If you’re serious about pursuing a romance writing career and want to make a living writing romance consider joining RWA.  Membership dues are $85 annually and there are more than 145 chapters. Visit the RWA website and find out if it’s right for you.