Last month, the board of the Mystery Writers of America adopted the recommendations of the membership committee (of which I am a member) to revise the criteria for active status membership for professional authors. The changes/additions to the current criteria are:
1) An author of books must have received a minimum advance of $1,000, royalties of $1,000, or a combination of advances and royalties in at least that amount.
2) The initial print run for the author’s work of fiction or non-fiction must be at least 500 copies.
3) That an author of short stories must have received a cumulative amount of $200, with only payments of $25 or more counting toward the total. Scholarly articles or chapters of non-fiction books will be treated like short stories, for purposes of Active Category qualification.
4) That a playwright or an author of screenplays or teleplays must have received a minimum payment commensurate with the standards and practices of the Writers’ Guild (film/TV) or Dramatists Guild (stage plays), and that the work must have been produced.
UPDATE (7-14-07): The Romance Writers of America have just adopted new membership criteria that are very similar to the MWA’s.
UPDATE: You can find more details about the criteria for active MWA membership here.