Associations for authors offer a lot of support at all stages of writing careers. Imogen Howson, Vice-Chair of The Romantic Novelists' Association Vice-Chair has kindly answered my questions:-
Tell us a little about the history of the RNA
The Romantic Novelists’ Association was founded in 1960, by authors including Denise Robins, Barbara Cartland, Elizabeth Goudge, Netta Muskett, Catherine Cookson and Rosamunde Pilcher. Its purpose was, and is, to both celebrate and demand respect for romantic fiction. As we approach our 60th anniversary, we continue to work to raise the prestige of romantic authorship and to foster the writing of romantic books.
How does membership of the RNA work? (benefits, costs, events etc)
Traditionally published authors and independently published authors can join the RNA for an annual fee of about £58, and enjoy the member benefits of our quarterly magazine, Romance Matters, membership of our local and special-interest chapters and online discussion groups, the opportunity to promote their work on the RNA blog, and multiple opportunities to network with fellow writers, agents, and publishers at our meetings, social events, award events and our annual three-day conference.
Unpublished authors can join via our New Writers' Scheme (for a fee of about £135), and access all the same benefits as well as a critique of a full manuscript from our team of multi-published voluntary readers.
Can you tell us who a few of your members are?
Our members include Katie Fforde, Jo Thomas, Dorothy Koomson, Sue Moorcroft and Julie Cohen.
Does the RNA run events for authors?
The RNA runs numerous events for authors. As well as the local chapter meetings, we have regular meetings throughout the year in London, our awards event in March, our winter party and industry awards in November, our annual conference in the summer, and a regional afternoon tea (currently taking place in York) in September.
Tell us about the RNA awards (who can enter, when they run, what the prizes are)
Our annual Romantic Novel Awards celebrate the best in romantic fiction in a variety of sub-genres. We open for entries each May, books published in that year can be entered by their authors or publishers, and the awards are presented at our prestigious awards event in March. The winner in each category is awarded a trophy and a cash prize. The categories are:
The Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award The Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award The Romantic Comedy Novel Award The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award The Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award The Romantic Saga Award The Libertá Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award
In addition, each year the RNA awards a Popular Romantic Fiction Prize, for a book nominated and selected by booksellers, book bloggers and librarians, and an Outstanding Achievement Award, for an individual nominated by RNA members for their exceptional contribution to romantic fiction.
Tell us about the new writers’ scheme
Unpublished writers of romantic fiction in all genres can join the RNA via our unique New Writers’ Scheme. Members of the NWS are able to participate in all the RNA’s activities and events, and their member benefits include the opportunity to submit one manuscript of an unpublished novel for critique each year. The RNA has a team of readers, all multi-published and experienced authors, who provide the critiques.
If a manuscript is entered into the NWS, then gains a publishing contract and is released as the NWS member’s debut novel, it is eligible for the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award, which is awarded at our regional tea event in September and includes a trophy to be held for one year, and a cash prize.
How else do you support your authors?
The RNA understands that the decline in author earnings means that many authors find it difficult to invest financially in their careers. We run a system of bursaries, some specifically to enable authors to join the NWS, some to enable low-income published authors to retain their membership or attend our conference. Many of our bursaries are aimed specifically at authors who belong to groups that are under-represented in publishing, whether that be because of their race, sexuality, income level, disabilities or any other factor.
Although we're not currently set up to give official advice on, for instance, publishing contracts, we give as much unofficial support as we can via our wide network of authors and other industry professionals.
Our conference and meetings also include talks on a multitude of issues that affect authors, from the craft of writing itself, through finding agent representation and marketing their books, to handling stress.
Anything else we should know about the RNA?
We're approaching our 60th anniversary and we're planning a host of special events to celebrate, so 2020 will be a particularly good year to join us!
What should authors do if they’d like to find out more?
Our website provides a great deal of information: but if authors have any particular questions they should email any of the office holders listed here.