SFWA to Allow Self-Published Authors to Join

Posted on February 13, 2015

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has changed its bylaws. Now self published authors can join. Authors may use small press credits and self-publication to qualify for Active and Associate memberships.

The members voted 6-1 for the bylaws change. Self-published authors and writers with small press credits must still meet the income requirements to join. Writers can combine income earned in a 12 month period plus advances to meet the requirements. The organization will publish the specific guidelines on the website by March 1, 2015.

Generally speaking, to become an Active member a writer must have made $3,000 for novel or paid 6 cents a word for 10,000 words of short fiction. To become an Associate member, a writer must have published a story of least 1,000 words and paid 6 cents a word for the work. There are other categories of memberships, as well.

Steven Gould, the SFWA President, discussed the change and why it came about. In a statement he said, "Writers write. Professional writers get paid a decent amount for what they write. For the past five years it’s been apparent that there are ways to earn that decent amount that were not being covered by our previous qualification standards. Though these changes took a substantial amount of time, I’m grateful to everyone who worked toward this end."

With the explosion of self-publishing and the increase in small press activity it makes sense for the SFWA to become more inclusive. Some short story writers note that there are prestigious magazines which only pay in the 3-5 cent range per word and those credits won't count. But there are magazines that publish short stories at far above 6 cents a word. Ebooks retail for less than print books, so writers that publish digitally only have a bigger hurdle.

Authors who wish to use small press and self-publishing credits may submit applications beginning March 1, 2015. The new membership requirements will be posted on March 1st here.

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