As a writer of romantic fiction, I would really like to become a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). As a self-published author, however, I am barred from doing so. Here are their requirements for full membership:

“Full Membership of the Association is open to all published writers of romantic novels and full length serials of at least 30,000 words. (Vanity and self-publishing do not qualify.)”

Vanity and self-publishing? These are two very different things, as we all know. Also:

“The author must have an enforceable commercial contract from a publishing company, which must be properly established as a bona fide business in an appropriate jurisdiction. This contract may relate to print and/or electronic media.”

and …

“The author should bear no part of the cost of preproduction costs or processes, nor undertake tasks that relate to: editing, copy editing, typesetting or other production costs, cover art or any commercial distribution tasks or costs.”

Well, that’s pretty clear. I’m not welcome there. What about their other membership category?

“The RNA is pleased to welcome unpublished writers into its unique New Writers’ Scheme.”

Oh dear! I’m not unpublished either. We seem to have a problem here, a great big gaping hole that I’ve fallen through. I sent the RNA an email, querying their decision to slap a great big ‘No Self-Published Writers Welcome Here’ sign on their membership rules:

Dear Linda,

I wonder if you could send me some information about how I could become a member of the RNA. I’ve studied the information on your website and I’m afraid I don’t fit into either of your existing categories. I’m a published author of a successful romantic novel, but this title is self-published. I know I’m in great company here: existing RNA members such as Talli Roland and Linda Gillard have both recently joined the ranks of self-published authors who are forging a new, respectable identity for those who choose this route. I’m sure you’ll agree that the practice of self-publishing has changed significantly in the last few years – maybe the time has come to open the doors of the RNA to those who have successfully self-published? With ebooks, KDP, and print-on-demand, I think we can safely say that self publishing and vanity publishing no longer need to be included in the same category.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this, and (hopefully) becoming an active member of the RNA very soon

Best wishes,

Joanne Phillips

and I received this response:

*tumbleweed blowing past*

That’s right. No response as yet. Maybe they are calling an urgent meeting to discuss opening their doors to the new breed of indie authors … Somehow, I doubt it. But I will keep you posted.