Nothing speaks more to your professionalism in the market place than being a member of a writing association, union, or guild. By investing in one or more of these resources for writers you are proclaiming to the world that you are holding yourself to higher standards than the average writer.
When you display a badge from one of these associations on your website, or other social media, or list your membership in your bio you are advertising your dedication to a quality product.
What else do you get by becoming a member?
Mainly, a support system for you and your writing endeavors. These are resources for you to network, find out the latest news in your field/genre of writing, get updates on conferences in your area, writing contests, lists of ‘approved’ editors and agents, advice blogs, avenues for publicity, and more.
I know, you’re thinking, “So, what will all this cost me?”
Most memberships are a bit on the pricy side for new and emerging writers, so the associations try to offer “Affiliate” memberships where you don’t get access to everything on their site but what will most benefit you as you’re starting out. Once you become an established writer who brings in a decent income, you’re able to upgrade to the full “Professional” membership for a higher fee.
Now, belonging to an association is not for all writers and may not even be possible for many new writers who have an extremely limited budget. Know that you will get a break on these fees come tax time and get a portion of the money back, but if that delayed reimbursement is still to lofty an idea you can still benefit personally from these sites. There are many areas on these (and other) association websites that the general public is able to access in order to be kept up to date on what’s happening in and around your genre of interest. One of the most helpful free aspects is that many of these sites offer an update on which small and large publishing houses and agencies are behaving properly and are legit.
Ultimately, if you have the room in your budget I would highly suggest joining at least one association for writers in your genre (or sub-genre) with an “Affiliate” membership. You will be advertising a code of ethical standards and commitment to writing that the lay-person does not qualify for – show the world that you care about your writing and are committed to producing the best possible product for their consumption. At the very least, it will show professional reviewers and others in the industry that you mean business and are a force to be reckoned with.
Here are some of the most popular Associations:
This is by no means a finite list of possibilities and like the WFWA there are other non-profit organizations out there that request a moderate membership fee but remain just as helpful as the ‘big boys’ listed. If you don’t see your genre or preferred association listed above, do an internet key-word search with “writing association” and your genre. No matter what, make sure you carefully read what these communities stand for and can do for you. Double check their standing with other writers in trusted forums and ask a lot of questions before you give them any money. This is supposed to be a mark of professionalism for you, not a way to lose valuable time and money to scam artists.
Note: Generally your country of origin doesn’t matter for membership to these associations – what you are saying by being a member is that you uphold the code and philosophy of those institutions in your writing life.