There are many reasons for joining a writers association.
Whether you’re an author, a blogger or an academic, if you do a fair bit of writing as part of your day job, a key to your career advancement is to have access to mentors, constructive feedback in a supportive setting, knowledge of best industry practices and good connections.
Membership in a writers association can provide a boost to your writing career. In this article, I’ll focus on the top reasons why you should consider joining one.
The 5 Reasons Why You Should Join a Writers Association:
Reason 1: You’ll be joining a community of like-minded people who understand your goals as well as your challenges
Writing is a solitary activity, sometimes joyful when you’re in the flow, sometimes hard when you’re not. By nature, the act of writing is a private relationship between your creative mind and the written word.
But you’re not alone! There are thousands of people going through the same routine as they shape their creative thoughts onto a blank page.
These are folks – some highly experienced writers, some aspiring ones – who come together in order to form supportive communities where they can learn from each other and then take their writing craft to the next level.
By joining a writers association you’ll be able to learn the ropes if you’re new in the industry, stay on top of the trends if you’re a seasoned writer and, as a bonus, develop lasting friendships.
You’ll receive encouragement and guidance from experienced writers, learn best industry practices, gain access to valuable resources and databases of important contacts and get to network with other writers as well as editors, agents and publishers.
Reason 2: You’ll receive practical and supportive feedback from a community of experienced and knowledgeable writers
One of the main advantages of writer associations is their ability to create a mastermind of writing talent and then to leverage it in different ways for benefit of their members.
For example, most associations will offer some or all of the following feedback mechanisms:
- Peer-mentoring groups
- Critique group meetings
- Online discussion groups and forums
Plus, you’ll gain access to valuable members-only learning resources and industry databases that offer a wealth of valuable information to sharpen your skills as well as to develop important professional contacts.
Reason 3: You’ll build your professional development through workshops, advanced learning opportunities and access to resources
Writers associations are primarily committed to creating opportunities for the career development of their members. Their goal is to help them hone their craft and increase their industry knowledge.
Here’s a list of typical benefits you can expect:
- Professional development seminars
- Writing workshops
- Q&As with bestselling authors
Reason 4: You’ll be able to frequent regular social and networking events to get connected with industry players
Writers associations are great places to make important contacts with peers and members of the book industry at large.
Many associations will set up booths at local fairs and the larger ones will even have a presence at national industry events and trade shows where you’ll be given an opportunity to participate.
They also offer a great variety of networking events throughout the year where you can interact with other writers and industry stakeholders, such as agents, editors, book reviewers, book bloggers and publishers.
Depending on their size, many writers associations will offer some or all of the following benefits:
- Regular networking and social events
- Monthly or quarterly meetings
- Annual conferences
- Attendance at book trade shows (such as BookExpo America)
- Access to directories of members, bookstores, libraries, agents, reviewers, and other important industry contacts
Reason 5: You’ll be able to promote yourself and your work while gaining access to revenue-generating opportunities
Most writers associations provide their members with opportunities to increase their market exposure and generate revenue.
Below are many examples of the different benefits often available to members, depending on the size of the organization:
- Personal member webpages hosted by the association
- Regular market reports and industry news
- Access to job boards for writing professionals
- Access to internships, fellowships and competitions
- Publication and promotion of anthologies from members
- Opportunity to participate in a speakers bureau
List of Select Local Writers Associations in the U.S.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of general writers associations throughout the U.S. who accept both professional and aspiring writers as well as a list of genre-based associations.
Some have been around for a decade or two, some for over a century. In all cases, they’re powerful advocates for writers of all genres and have deep connections with many stakeholders in the book industry.
Location-Based Writers Associations:
The CWA is a creative community of writers dedicated to helping members perfect their writing craft and get their work into the marketplace. They accept professional writers as well as those who are committed to joining their ranks.
For more than three decades, this thriving statewide community of writers has helped members hone their craft and market their skills by providing a forum for information, support, and sharing by promoting their interests.
Operating since 1990, the SFWA has established programs to promote audience development for literary works, information services and advocacy for literary arts. SFWA provides tools for writers to succeed through its annual writers conference, critique groups and writing contests.
Since its founding in 1922, the CWC has supported the work of writers and promoted their development through education, recognition, and community in celebration of the written word.
Established in 1990, the SCWA serves both new and established writers. SCWA offers a supportive environment to improve their craft, network with others and gain practical how-to information about getting published.
Celebrating 100 years in 2018, the Virginia Writers Club continues its mission to support and stimulate the art, craft, and business of writing as well as advocate the literary arts. The Virginia Writers Club offers writing contests, an annual writing symposium and support to literary events held by area chapters.
Founded in 1914, the AWC serves all who are interested in writing, from well-published authors to those aspiring to write for the first time. Members include writers of fiction, non-fiction, memoir, essays, blogs, graphic novels, poetry, screenwriting, play writing, journalism, and freelancers.
Since 1955, the PNWA have been dedicated to helping writers connect to other writers, publishers, agents, and editors across the country. Their mission is to help writers carve out their place and provide them with a platform for their literary voice.
Established over 35 years ago, SWW has been devoted to helping both published and unpublished writers improve their craft and further their careers. SWW serves writers of all skill levels in every fiction and nonfiction genre.
Genre-Based Writers Associations:
The purpose of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America is to promote, advance, and support science fiction and fantasy writing in the United States and elsewhere, by educating and informing the general public and supporting and empowering science fiction and fantasy writers.
Romance Writers of America (RWA) is a nonprofit trade association whose mission is to advance the professional and common business interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy and by increasing public awareness of the romance genre. RWA works to support the efforts of its members to earn a living, to make a full-time career out of writing romance — or a part-time one that generously supplements their main income.
Since 2008, the National Association of Memoir Writers has helped writers feel empowered to begin and develop their stories into a publishable memoir, whether it’s a book, a family legacy, or a blog.
Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. MWA is dedicated to promoting higher regard for crime writing and recognition and respect for those who write within the genre.
Since 1937 the National Writers Association has worked to help writers put their publishing dreams within reach. With services that range from learning how to properly format a manuscript to contract review services, the National Writers Association is there to guide writers every step of the way.
The American Crime Writer League is a creative community of writers dedicated to helping members perfect their writing craft and get their work into the marketplace. They accept professional writers as well as those who are committed to joining their ranks.
Historical Writers of America (HWA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to celebrate, support and connect historical writers, whether they are writing books or writing for the screen, the stage, magazines, or online blogs. HWA’s focus is on the historical writer in all genres. HWA welcomes traditionally published or self-published authors as well as aspiring authors.
If you want to give a boost to your writing career, there’s no better way than by joining a group of like-minded individuals who are laser-focused on the advancement of their craft.
In this article I’ve highlighted a select number of writers associations based on geography and genre to give you a starting point, but in truth there are hundreds of them out there. Some are general and others are genre-specific. Some only allow published authors while others accept both aspiring as well as professional writers.
You can either start by checking out the above writers associations or by doing your own online research, creating a short list and then choosing one to join – but make sure to join one, membership in a writers association is a great asset to have in your writer’s arsenal.
If you enjoyed this article and are in the process of writing a nonfiction book, be sure to check out my free nonfiction success guide, drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here to get instant access.
Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.
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Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Publishing Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling authors (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.