The workshop and main speaker schedules for the upcoming Romance Writers of America conference in San Antonio reveals the organization’s full transformation from a traditional publishing conduit into a voice almost solely for self-published authors, with a side dressing of open animosity toward traditional publishing and thus, toward its traditionally published members.
So the question that faces not only traditionally published authors but also hybrids and even many self-pubs may be: is the organization kicking us out? Warts and all, (I joined in 1984) RWA has always been relatively inclusive of a broad range of romance genres. Despite flame wars over adding awards and workshops dedicated to emerging sub-genres, RWA had, until recently, trended toward *expanding* its definition of the romance novel.
But then, two years ago, women’s fiction and YA romances were dropped from the awards. New berths were made for erotic romances but at the loss of those two substantial sub-genres–which didn’t need to be eliminated in order to accommodate erotic romance.
The recent, overwhelming adoption of self-publishing by some romance authors (romance far and above dominates self-publishing and most of the successes in self-publishing are romance authors) has led quickly to RWA focusing on self-pubs’ interests. Nothing wrong with serving your membership.
But self-pubs remain only a part of RWA’s membership, albeit a very vocal and visible one. Eighty-five percent of all books are still published by traditional presses (including the Amazon Montlake romance imprint, which, ironically, offers terms similar to other “evil” publisher’s).
Most of the self-pub successes are within the narrow confines of contemporary hot/sexy/erotic/NA romance, leaving a huge (perhaps majority) of other romance writers out of the scope of (likely) self-pub success.
That means what RWA has done is narrow the org’s focus to the interests and viewpoint of a very small group of authors. Maybe it’s time to rename RWA something like “A Small Group Of Romance Writers In America” for truth in advertising.