If you are interested in pursuing a career as a writer of romantic fiction, membership in the Romance Writers of America (RWA) may be a smart decision.
About the Romance Writers of America
The Romance Writers of America is a professional association dedicated to promoting the genre of romantic fiction. The RWA was founded in 1980 by a group of 37 writers from Houston, TX. Today, the organization boasts more than 10,000 members and 145 chapters. There are chapters that are organized by the geographic location of their members, as well as chapters that are exclusively online and devoted to special areas of interest, such as writing inspirational romance.
Since love is one of the central themes of many fictional works, prospective RWA members may find themselves wondering how to define the romance genre. The RWA defines a romance novel as a fictional work that focuses on the relationship between two people who have a romantic love for each other. The conflict and climax of the novel must focus on the romantic relationship, although it is acceptable to have other subplots that are not related to the romance. The ending of the novel must be both optimistic and emotionally satisfying. Some of the sub-genres recognized by the RWA include:
- Historical Romance: Novels set in a time before 1945, regardless of story location
- Inspirational Romance: Novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs play a key role in story development
- Paranormal Romance: Novels in which paranormal happenings play a necessary role in the plot
- Romantic Suspense: Novels with suspenseful or mysterious elements in addition to the romantic storyline
- Young Adult Romance: Romance novels written for younger readers
Officially, the RWA does not exclude writers who create work describing relationships between same sex pairs. However, there have been efforts by certain group members to tighten the definition of the romance novel to include only stories with heterosexual pairings.
Benefits of the RWA
Reasons for joining the RWA are similar to the reasons for joining any type of professional association for writers. Membership offers chances for networking as well as career development. The RWA can provide:
- Advice from experienced professionals about what the industry wants from new writers
- How to find online work opportunities that can help you pay the bills as a freelance writer
- Tips for how to write sex scenes that readers will enjoy
The RWA hosts a national conference each summer. Workshops and lectures, as well as book signings, are offered from popular romance writers such as Nora Roberts, Shana Abe, Jayne Ann Krentz, Suzanne Brockmann, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Money raised from the conference helps to support literacy charities as part of the RWA community involvement program.
Joining the RWA
Any writer interested in pursuing a career as a writer of romantic fiction can join the RWA. Writers do not need to have any published work, although they should be working towards this goal. Unpublished writers have the same rights as published writers within the organization, although some of the RWA awards that are given out each year specify that a writer must be published. Currently, there are about 1,800 RWA members who have published book-length romantic fiction.
Although the majority of members in the RWA are fiction writers, associate memberships are available to publishers, editors, agents, and other individuals who work in the romance publishing field. Librarians and booksellers of romantic fiction can apply to become affiliate members of the organization. Associate and affiliate members of the RWA do not have voting rights within the organization and are not eligible to hold office. In addition, associate members are not allowed to participate in RWA discussion listservs because of their involvement with the manuscript acquisition process.
You can learn more about applying to become a member of the Romance Writers of America by visiting the membership portion of the organization website.