Choosing your professional organizations as an author

While I’m trying to write this as a more generic post, I should be up-front about something I’ve said once beforeI do not recommend EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) at this time for writers and authors

And yes, my dues with them are still current for a few more months.  Let me make a comparison to show you why I do not recommend EPIC, but do recommend SFWA.

Last year as I was busy doing the con circuit talking about publishing scams, EPIC was recommended to me as a worthwhile group to join, specifically because of my emphasis on combating scams that prey on independent electronic authors.  The pamphlet I got seemed to confirm this emphasis as well.  I shrugged, and paid my dues.

There are three Yahoo (yes, Yahoo) mailing lists that make up most of the activity around EPIC, and it’s from that activity that I have formed my opinion of the group.

If you are rabidly anti-pirate, and want to pay for a virtual water cooler, EPIC is the place for you. Otherwise…

I have mentioned the rabid anti-pirate (and pro-SOPA/PIPA) stance of its most vocal (and publicly lauded) members before here who said they’d given up writing to avoid a conflict of interest when going after pirates.1. When Amazon started pushing small independent authors around, their collective response can be summed up as “So? Quit bitching.”.

In contrast, the possibility that someone could get an eBook, read it, and return it2 generated calls for action against Amazon. And when the discussion became anti-library (for the same reason), I was done.

This is in direct contrast to the work that SFWA (Science fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) does (and the dues are about the same). They provide resources about the craft and business of writing), there’s the emergency medical and legal fund, GriefCom, and Writer Beware!. Need a sample contract? How to do a DMCA takedown notice? Want to know about copyright? All there for you – much of it (the informational bits) available for all authors.

Plus the virtual water cooler forums, Nebula voting, and more.

Look, writing is (for most of us) not a hugely profitable venture. We need to make our membership money count. And when it comes to the things I value from a professional organization3 – supporting and advocating for all its members – SFWA far and away comes out tops.

1 It is worth noting that the member I am speaking of here later denied writing this and requested that my comments be removed from the record because they were concerned about tax liability.
2 “Oh Noes! A consumer might not pay! The seller can screw you over, but that’s just biz, but damn those cheating readers!!!!!11!!1!”
3 I’ve just recently learned about the National Writer’s Union, and honestly don’t know much about them. I’d love to hear about your experiences with them.