Having cleared my throat on polit(ick!)s, I wanted to get back to a skiffy subject: now that I’ve got three professional short fiction sales under my belt, do I join the Science Fiction Writers of America?
There was a time when I dreamt of being in SFWA. This was many, many years ago, when I considered SFWA to be something of an elite club for established professional science fiction and fantasy authors — people I pretended never got rejected, and whos membership in mighty SFWA guaranteed sales.
I’ve since learned better. SFWA membership doesn’t make you bulletproof. It’s also not even a merit badge of literary eliteness, since over a thousand people are in SFWA, and probably only a few hundred of them are anywhere close to being ‘common’ names among well-read SF&F fans, much less house-hold names among average U.S. readers who aren’t explicit skiffy fans.
Plus, it’s expensive. $80 a year doesn’t sound like much, but at this particular point in time, my wife and I are actually trying to cut how much we’re spending on writing-related activities, because it would be nice to be able to claim an actual profit from my writing, on our taxes — either this year or next. And I’m already looking at shelling out $20 a month for Publisher’s Marketplace, possibly another $500 for the Superstars seminar in Salt Lake City in January, and the Renovation World Science Fiction Convention in Reno, Nevada, for 2011.
Assuming my check for my latest sale shows up before the end of 2010, this year I’ll have made the better part of two grand. Historic, for me as a writer, but still just a drop in the bucket, given expenses and household budget. For this writing schtick to be truly worth my time, it has to prove to be a net plus for the family coffers, not a net minus like it’s been since 1992. I’ve got a real shot at flipping over to for-profit production, and I’m considering very carefully how and when I decide to load the scales against the profit margin.
Maybe I’ll hold off and join SFWA when I get my check for my fifth pro sale? Or perhaps I will really hold out and join SFWA when I get my first advance on my first novel? As neat-o as it would be to claim SFWA membership right here, right now, it would feel like a frill. It’s not a pressing necessity. I don’t have money to burn, as they say. I’m already burning too much as it is.