I’ve been a member of the RNA for many years, from the time my husband bought me Mary Wibberley’s To Writers With Love, in which she recommended joining the Association to any aspiring writer. I joined, submitted to what is now the NWS, got second reads and an interview at M&B’s Richmond headquarters - fairly new, then - and then gave up. It was several years afterwards I met Marina Oliver when I was speaking at the International Comedy Writers conference, and she persuaded me to rejoin, telling me that they’d just started a new cyber chapter.
And look where we are now. I’m sure the RNA was one of the very first writers’ organisations which embraced “modern technology”, so we adapted to its proliferation throughout our industry better than most. In the US, of course, it spread far wider and quicker, and I remember when I was one of the few online back in the dark ages seeing the E-Publishers start up. I, along with several other people, didn’t take them seriously at the time, and, I’m ashamed to say, almost regarded those published by them as little better than vanity published. Indeed, epublished authors weren’t allowed full RNA membership.
But now, not only are digital-first books appearing in the New York Times best-seller lists, but so are self epublished books. And it is these same digital first publishing companies that have given so many opportunities to the writers of romantic and erotic fiction, arguably the genre to profit most from the revolution.
For revolution it is. It is received wisdom that the old publishing model is under threat and the power is being wrested from traditional agents and publishers. However, I don’t think, as so many worry-mongers have pronounced, that epublishing and the ebook sound the death-knell of the printed book. I think, as with nearly all forms of creative media, they will happily co-exist. There will be some jostling for position, but as long as we stay calm, and keep up with all the new developments just as we have done in the past, I don’t think we have too much to worry about. But I would hope that we are all sensible enough to make sure our work is good enough to go out there. Good agents and editors currently do that for us, so let’s not throw those estimable babies out with the bath water. We may need to adjust our positions, but we still need eagle eyes on our manuscripts, if not the “gatekeepers” of tradition.
I, of course, I don’t write romance, but I’ve remained a member because I’ve met so many wonderful people who have become true friends. And just as a little postscript, I had an email via my website this weekend, complaining that I’d spoilt the Whole Point of the books by giving away the fact that one character had married another, when this reader was avidly working through the series following their romance. Ashamed - I changed the website.