In the ongoing world of us-against-them where traditional and self-publishing are concerned, there is possibly no greater source that fosters this antagonism than among authors themselves. Phrases like “real author” get thrown around among writers, and organizations, contests, and review opportunities specifically alienate self-published authors and their works. But one group has extended a small but significant olive branch that will hopefully work to tear down the stigma authors have against each other.
The Authors Guild, an organization that advocates for authors and their works, has traditionally only supported “real” authors. In recent years, self-published authors were allowed to join, but only after meeting a minimum sales requirement within an eighteen-month period. Interestingly, the membership page for AG lists three categories of members: book authors, freelance writers, and writers, mentioning in parentheses that self-published “writers” fall into that last category, indicating intentionally or not that they are not authors.
Now, however, AG has its first-ever executive council member who is a self-published author. NYT bestselling author CJ Lyons was elected to the board, and the leadership has been very specific that her role is to champion the needs of self-published “authors” within the organization.
In a recent report by the The Los Angeles Times, the Guild’s new president, Roxana Robinson, stated, “As writers, we are living in very interesting times. The challenges are huge and I am thrilled to be a part of it all… We’re going to move ahead, we’re going to extend our membership, we’re going to continue to offer practical help and advice and a sense of community to our writers, and we’re going to continue to support the craft of writing.”
Interestingly, the Guild has become more open recently, offering associate membership to self-published authors who do not meet the $5000 minimum earnings requirement. According to the Guild’s membership page, “You may qualify as an Associate member if you’ve been offered a contract with an established American book publisher, if an established literary agency has offered to represent you, or if you have earned at least $500 in writing income… Associate members are eligible for the same benefits and services as Regular members with the exception that they cannot vote in Guild elections. Once an Associate member’s book is published they can become a Regular member.”
Membership is $90 for the first year, then is adjusted based on writing income for future years.