The Authors Guild and Publishers Weekly for Self-Publishers

author guildAs the world of self-publishing continues to change the publishing landscape, two organizations that have traditionally been off-limits to self-published authors seem to have had a change of heart.

The Authors Guild

The Authors Guild bills itself as “the nation’s oldest and largest professional society of published authors, representing more than 9,000 writers,” and claims to have “achieved much for individual authors through the collective power and voice of their members,” including improving author contracts and royalty statements, and protecting authors’ rights under the First Amendment.

Members have access to various panels and programs as well as access to health insurance, legal services, media liability insurance, and low-cost website services.

Historically, membership in the Authors Guild has only been possible for traditionally published authors. Predictably, this requirement has led to some hard feelings. For example, the comment section under a recent Authors Guild blog post, “The Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors,” became so heated comments were ultimately closed.

In a July 31 interview with board president Roxana Robinson, journalist Porter Anderson learned two important bits of information: First, the Guild recognizes the publishing world is changing and wants to be a part of that change. Second, self-published authors may now join the Guild if — and this is important — they can demonstrate that writing is a part of their livelihood.

For more detailed information, click the Authors Guild link above and select “Join Now” from the far right on the navigation bar. In a nutshell, the membership fee for the first year is $90.00. The membership fee for subsequent years will be determined on a sliding scale based on author earnings (yes, it’s that vague.) To apply for membership, self-published authors will have to select one of the following options from the dropdown:

  • I have earned at least $5,000.00 in writing in the past eighteen months.
  • I have earned at least $500.00 in writing in the past eighteen months.
  • I have earned less than $500.00 in the past eighteen months.

Authors earning at least $500.00 in eighteen months may qualify for membership, but not receive voting privileges. Authors earning at least $5,000.00 in the past eighteen months may receive full membership, including voting privileges. Truthfully, I’m not sure why the last option is even given. If I understand the information correctly, authors earning less than $500.00 in the past eighteen months will not be eligible for membership.

While Robinson states proof of income isn’t necessary for determining future membership fees, proof is required for determining eligibility. And yes, they will ask for proof, in the form of royalty statements (KDP statements are also accepted as proof.)

Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly took advantage of their opportunity at BookExpo America this summer to announce BookLife, a new subsidiary for self-published authors whose books are available for purchase in the United States.

BookLife is, first and foremost, an informational website that provides articles and information on every aspect of book creation, from filing copyrights to marketing and social networking. There is no fee to join. One of the most compelling reasons to sign up for BookLife, however, is that once an account is opened, self-published authors may submit their books for consideration for a Publishers Weekly review — at no cost.

Some may remember PW Select, another subsidiary of Publishers Weekly whereby authors could pay $149.00 and submit books in hopes of a review. The vast majority of books submitted did not receive a review, but were added to the PW Select insert in the Publishers Weekly magazine. PW Select still exists, but reviews for self-published books are now handled strictly through BookLife, again, at no cost to the author.

Once an author opens an account, he/she will enter the title, ASIN or ISBN, upload a cover photo (600 x 900, jpg or png), and the book file (unless snail-mailing a paperback or hardcover, in which case an address and confirmation code will be provided.)

Within a couple of weeks of submission, the author will receive an email either stating the book has been declined for review, or is under consideration for review. If the book is chosen for review, the process can take twelve weeks or longer.

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, the publishing times are a-changing.

Author: Melinda Clayton

Melinda Clayton is the author of the Cedar Hollow series, as well as a self-publishing guide. Clayton has published numerous articles and short stories in various print and online magazines. She has an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration and is a licensed psychotherapist in the states of Florida and Colorado. Lear more about Melinda at her Amazon author page

29 thoughts on “The Authors Guild and Publishers Weekly for Self-Publishers”

  1. Good article, Melinda. If I were to wish to sign up proving my sales might be tricky as they are mostly via word of mouth and in paper copies ordered by myself through Createspace. I wonder how they would view that.

    1. Good question, Yvonne. It might be worth a shot to submit the CreateSpace invoice and see what happens. I’m sure a lot of us (probably most of us) order directly from CreateSpace to take to book signings, etc., and sell.

  2. A very informative and encouraging post. Waiting twelve weeks isn’t a problem since most of us continue on with other projects. The no cost is definitely a reason to give it a try. Inch by inch the little worm grinned and winked.

    Thank you, Melinda.

    1. You’re welcome, and good luck! I thought the same about the 12-week period. My experience has been that it often takes 12 weeks or longer for any reviewer to get to our book(s), and there’s plenty to do during that 12-week wait. 🙂

    1. I think a lot of people are in that boat, Joni. From what I understand, everyone who paid the $149 was included on the Publishers Weekly insert, but very few were ever reviewed. Thankfully, BookLife is different, in that there’s nothing to lose. I submitted three of my books. Two were rejected, but one was accepted and reviewed in PW a couple of weeks ago. All for free. 🙂

  3. Where to start? First of all… what exactly does one get by paying Authors Guild a hundred bucks? I made my living writing for many decades and never saw any advantage to it.
    In fact, they never seemed to be anything helpful to writers. Google around and you will see a lot of very smart, involved writers who take that stand Barry Eisler, for one http://barryeisler.blogspot.mx/2014/07/so-real-authors-guild-is-amazon.html
    The idea that the Guild actually works AGAINST the interest of writers has been around ever since I remember.
    The $149 to PW is a flat-out, transparent, rip-off and I’m kind of shocked anybody would fall for it.
    And I won’t even get around to the issue of deciding who’s an author based on dollar value.
    .
    Here’s the thing… you can’t go out and BUY a certificate of being a “real writer”. Anybody who wants to sell that to you is a predator. Writers need to learn not to dump money into bolstering their egos, it’s probably the single most damaging thing that indie writers do.

    1. Linton, I think you may have misunderstood the section on Publishers Weekly. I absolutely agree paying $149 for a chance (*small* chance) at a review is a ripoff, whether that’s at PW or anywhere else. I wouldn’t pay *any* company for a review, but that’s just my personal decision.

      However, this isn’t PW Select; this is BookLIfe – no fee, no charge.

      As for the Authors Guild, yep, they have a pretty terrible reputation, particularly the past few years. The argument *could* be made that it’s easier to implement change from the inside than the outside. For all I know, it might be impossible from the inside, too, but I’m fairly certain it’s impossible from the outside.

      As for what one gains, they list quite a few benefits, including health and media insurances and access to a team of legal experts. I don’t know how that plays out in reality, having (thankfully!) not needed those services, but the health insurance alone might be worth exploring for some folks.

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