If you are writing in your books about murder, robbery, white-collar crimes, drug- or people trafficking or financial fraud – then the Mystery Writers of America is the right organization to join!
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and other writer organizations, required in the past that authors be traditionally published, and even then, with approved publishers. Since early 2017 even Mystery Writers of America opened their doors to indie authors.
This was never an issue in Canada: Crime Writers of Canada doesn’t even ask if their authors are self-publishers or if they contracted with a trade publisher.
Mystery Writers of America Announced:
“The MWA National Board of Directors is pleased to announce that starting January 1, 2017, self-published authors can apply for Active Membership Status. You can qualify by fulfilling either of the following criteria:
You have been paid for your work by a print, e-book, print-on-demand, periodical or e-zine/webzine publisher that is on the MWA list of approved publishers and meets all of the criteria for inclusion.
You have been self-published and have earned a minimum of $5,000 in a single calendar year from approved mystery works (novels, novellas, short stories), or suitable non-fiction titles, i.e., true crime; biographies of mystery authors; critical works about mysteries, their creators, and characters; forensic works; or other non-fiction that is mystery or crime-related), either in print, electronically, or by way of an audio recording. A “mystery work” is defined as a story where a crime is a central element.
This earning requirement is a one-time event, meaning there is no need to generate a specified income each year to maintain one’s level of membership. The proof of earnings shall be either a US tax return (with all information not pertaining to publishing activity redacted) or an IRS Form 1099. These new criteria became effective January 1, 2017. However, MWA has agreed to accept proof of earnings for any calendar year beginning with 2014.
If your work is a contribution to a periodical, you must provide a hard copy. For an e-zine/webzine, you must provide a hard copy and proof of its online/electronic availability, even if the work is no longer available. A work must be available for a minimum of thirty days to be considered published.
Works offered through predatory i.e. subsidy publishing companies shall not qualify. A predatory publisher is a company who assigns your book an ISBN number that subsequently belongs to them, i.e., they become the publisher of record that entitles them to receive an additional royalty whenever a book sells. They also set the book’s retail price.”
For those writers, trying to decide how to publish your mystery, you might decide tossing aside vanity presses because they are not respected, and here is a perfect of example of it being said loud and clear. Publishing with a vanity press/subsidy press speaks of hobby writers. If you don’t care to be a professional writer, fine. But if you are serious, get real with your publishing. Go traditional or choose self-publishing, but think twice before going with a subsidy/vanity press!
During the last couple of years, I wrote dozens of articles why it is literary and monetary suicide to contract with vanity/subsidy companies…
About Mystery Writers of America
It has acted as an archivist and historian for the American mystery. While housing a robust selection of mystery reference materials at its New York City headquarters in the Anthony Boucher Memorial Reference Library, much of the MWA’s archives are now housed in the Mugar Library of Boston University as part of the 20th Century Special Collection.
MWA provides scholarships for writers, sponsors MWA: Reads (their youth literacy program, formerly known as Kids Love A Mystery), and sponsors relevant conferences.
Benefits of MWA Membership for Indies:
It helps with networking, for one; plus, you can participate (submit) to one of the MWA anthology competitions; you can participate in a local chapter at no additional cost (more anthology/competition avenues, more networking); discounts for books, events, etc;
MWA Library Database has contact information for hundreds of libraries interested in programs featuring mystery writers as speakers which is now free for all members;
The MWA Loan Fund helps members in need of temporary financial assistance, either to pay their dues or to ease a personal problem.