Saturday, March 17, 2012

Old words, old pathways, old destinations

The search for the evidence that RWA had been apprised of Dorchester's shenanigans (a good word on this St. Patrick's Day) took me through some dark and shadowed avenues of my earlier writing career.  I may detail some of the other half-forgotten items I discovered, but not yet.  Some of the re-opened wounds are still too painful.

My intention, however, through all the things that happened and that I myself did, was always to honor my chosen genre and its writers as well as promote the welfare of ALL writers and defend them against the depredations of the publishers. ALL publishers.

I know now that I first notified RWA about Dorchester/Leisure/BMI almost 20 years ago.  What, if anything, was done in the five years between then and when I left RWA in 1998, I don't know.  I haven't been able to find anything.  I know that very little was done to bring Kensington/Zebra to heel when they were behind on royalty payments and had royalty rates below industry standard. 

(One of the items I found in my search was a royalty statement of my own from Kensington that shows a sale of rights to Russia, but I'm not sure yet I was ever paid for it; I need to find the time to look it over more closely.  I've also discovered that there was apparently another printing by Kensington of another of the three books I worte for them, but it doesn't show up on any of the royalty statements.  Again, I need more time to research it.)

But my point here is that from the very beginning, RWA was in a position simply due to the overwhelming size of its membership -- 8,000 or so in 1993; now over 10,000 -- to do something about Dorchester/Leisure, and it doesn't look like they did.  Too many unpublished RWA members saw Leisure, regardless its royalty rates, regardless its crappy contracts, regardless anything, as a viable avenue for publication, and publication was the brass ring that could not be moved any further away or made any harder to grasp.  And the unpublished majority ruled.

I went over to the RWA website the other day to verify whether certain subdivisions of the organization still existed.  PASIC is still there, the Published Authors' Special Interest Chapter, shown as founded in 1995.  No, my friends, PASIC was not founded in 1995.  It was founded on the evening of 13 October 1994, when the following was posted on the GEnie network's Romance Writer's Exchange Roundtable discussion board, where a number of authors had been discussing their desire to have an RWA conference for the published authors only, without the crush and bother of the unpublished:

Sent on 10/13/94 at 8:53p
This may be a long post, and I really have difficult work I should be doing but . . . . . . . . .

I *think* there may be a way to have a PAN conference.  Now, I could be way out in left field and this idea just came to me and I haven't explored it very much, so I'm just throwing this out for discussion.

WHAT IF we formed an RWA chapter, just like any other chapter, only the bylaws of the chapter restricted membership in that chapter to published authors?  Then we could have a chapter conference just for published authors, couldn't we?  And we could have it anywhere we wanted, because if RWA is inc.'ed in TX but has a converence in NY or HI, why not a chapter in CA having a conference in IL or MT or wherever it damn well -- ooops, sorry -- darn well pleased?

As I understand it, there is at least one chatper that does have some kind of restrictions on membership, so hey, why not explore this angle?  A chapter can have conferences, put out a newsletter, charge dues, give awards, have meetings, etc., etc., and be under the RWA umbrella for taxes unless and until it wants to go out on its own.  Other chapters have done that, too.

Linda, scared to death and holding her breath, Hilton

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