Every so often, people ask me what membership in South Carolina Writers' Workshop will do for them. Having recently answered that question, I decided to devote this post to those benefits. Some of this information came from the Join Us link on our web site, http://www.myscww.org/. I've expanded on that information, so please don't check out on me here.
Benefits of membership include:
Local (or remote) SCWW Chapter meetings
I always find that I write better after meeting with my local chapter. Membership allows you to attend ANY chapter meeting within SCWW, so you can get that shot of energy even while on vacation or out of town on business. I did that last year while vacationing in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Practical advice from other writers
Sources for advice abound. You can locate them in the SCWW blog, from SCWW members, and through free workshops presented by our chapters. A member-only yahoo group is in the works, and it will connect all of our members.
If you read ANY serious writing magazine, you will read that membership in a writing group is extremely important to your success. I've learned so much about my writing style just by tapping into SCWW's available avenues of advice.
Interesting conversation (not necessarily restricted to writing).
Shoulders to cry on in celebration of your first (or hundredth) rejection letter.
Friends to invite to the champagne party celebrating your first (or fifth) bestseller.
Your chapter friends can help you decide where to submit your work and how to word your query, synopsis, etc.
Fun (and inexpensive) entertainment for a few hours a month.
Some of my closest friends are members of SCWW and not just in the Greenville area. We have over 500 members throughout the US and a few international members.
Discount rate for SCWW conference attendance
Members have the opportunity to sign up for the conference at a reduced rate, plus you can renew your membership at a discount if you do so while registering for the conference. My membership doesn't expire until late August, but I take advantage of the reduced rate rather than wait.
Our conference rates are incredible when you compare them to other conferences. Many conferences offer 1/3 the number of faculty or workshop offerings that we do, and often cost upwards of $600. We strive to keep our rates low so our members can enjoy this benefit.
Our Conference Committee negotiates a fantastic hotel sleeping room rate for our members. We've considered moving to other resorts, but we can't beat what we have at the Myrtle Beach Hilton. In fact, other groups using the same resort are paying much higher room rates.
Our conference has grown from attendance of 150 people to 500+. It offers multiple opportunities for conversations with agents and editors, and last year, Writer's Digest featured the conference in one of their issues. This exposure means that New York publishing is well aware of SCWW, and membership in our organization carries a positive reputation. Last year's faculty kept commenting on the high caliber of writers within our organization. And, if you've somehow missed this fact, agents and editors requested over 50 manuscripts during last year's conference. We know of at least one that has already been published.
Eligible to Compete in Anthology Contest
The Petigru Review gives our members an opportunity to be published. Some of last year's authors were nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Eligible to Compete in the Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards
This contest is named after one of our founding members, Carrie McCray. It comes with a $500 first place prize and $100 second place prize. Members must attend the conference to enter. One of last year's judges (an agent) requested the full manuscript from one of the First Chapter entries.
The Quill - SCWW's monthly newsletter
The Quill provides up-to-date information on occurrences within SCWW. Also, we have contests, giving members another way to build their publishing resume.
Now that I've covered the website's benefits list, let me add a few:
If you haven't visited the web site lately, you should. We have a great new look. Any member who has a website, blog, or published book can have a link, along with the picture of your book, on our site. The site also provides information on contests and other opportunities for writers.
Our Chapter page helps writers locate the local chapter meetings. Plus, you can create a chapter web site through the SCWW site. Our webmaster, can help you with this.
The SCWW Board is exploring the idea of a members only sign-in that provides access to information. One feature will be access to our membership, allowing you to look up CURRENT member listings at any time.
Thanks to several enthusiastic members, you can join our Facebook or LinkedIn groups.
You get out of SCWW what you are willing to put in. In 2007, I jumped in feet first and gained wonderful connections with several publishing professionals. It's the old adage of networking: What matters is who you know. This week, I sent a partial of my manuscript to an agent who performed my critique last October. Two other publishing professionals have expressed an interest in reading my manuscript. Several published authors, who I met through the conference, have given me valuable assistance and feedback in the past two years. I would never experience these milestones of success if it wasn't for SCWW.
Besides the publishing options, you have the opportunity to run for open positions on our Board of Directors or volunteer for a committee position. Volunteering will make you more visible to the publishing world. I co-chaired the conference last year, and the experience opened several doors for me.
SCWW provides financial support and guidance to local chapters that want to provide a one-day seminar. The chapter provides a service to the community while increasing its contacts and visibility. We have members of the Board who know the ropes and are willing to help you with this process. Because of our grant from SC Arts Council, we must offer a few free workshops each year. The Greenville chapter has one scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8 from 1 - 3 at the Greenville Main Library. Ray Blackston, author of Flabbergasted and 5 other books, is speaking on "The Twisted Road to Publishing".
Whew! That's a lot! All of this for a $50 membership fee. It's like that credit card commercial:
Membership in SCWW - $50
Contacts with other writers - Priceless
Visibility and Connection with Publishing Professionals - Priceless