Getting Tough

This morning the board of Mystery Writers of America, on which I serve, approved tough new guidelines for approving publishers (and, by extension, accepting books published by them for Edgar consideration and their authors for active membership). These rigorous new standards are the result of a lot of hard work by the membership committee, on which I also serve. I will be posting a link to these new standards soon, but I can say that they will result in an immediate end to the "case by case list of approved publishers." A publisher either meets our standards for professionalism… or they don’t. It’s that simple.

These changes were long overdue and I believe will do our industry and our membership a service by alerting authors to thinly disguised vanity presses, companies with a history of unprofessional conduct and/or serious conflicts-of-interest…and denying those companies the legitimacy of our implied endorsement. As any reader of this blog knows, this is a subject that I am passionate about.

But I want to stress that these new standards will in no way change the current membership status of any writers who became members as a result of being published by a company that falls off the list.

7 thoughts on “Getting Tough”

  1. I assume that these “tough new guidelines for approving publishers” are to keep the riffraff writers from applying for membership in an organization that has real, bona fide writers. Keep the oil and the water separate, in effect. It’s good that there are people like you who are willing to work so hard and volunteer your time for such a worthy cause. What the publishing world really needs is to keep these two groups distinct, and a way to do it easy, without actually looking at anyone’s talents or their books. Just look at who their publishers are and that will tell you everything; the correlation is automatic and failsafe. Brilliant. And so simple to apply. Good job.

  2. Minus the cutting tone, Jim’s post is unintentionally on the money.
    There is such thing as a wannabe who hasn’t achieved professional status. A professional organization isn’t a treehouse for that person.
    Sarcasm: The last refuge of people without any real argument.
    Also the first refuge of the clever. But that’s a different point.
    I’m looking forward to reading the new guidelines. They’re beyond overdue.
    And thanks for making the effort. I didn’t.

  3. It’s good to see that MWA is toughening up their standards. ITW has been going through this is as well. With all the illegitimate publishers out there these days, a professional organization has to have a well-defined criteria for membership. (And that criteria can’t be reading each prospective member’s book and seeing if s/he has “talent.” How the hell would that work?)
    By the way, I’m not a member of MWA, because I don’t meet their membership requirements.

  4. Western Writers of America opened its doors, lost its publishing base, and is more and more an Old West hobbyist society. The big deal now at its conventions is who can wear the most colorful western costume.

  5. Lee,
    The first time I get to the Edgars in years… and you’re not there. Damn.
    Oh well. Had a blast with Jerry Healy, S.J. Rozan and the rest of the crew, had the usual fowl dinner and the whole event went pretty smooth. And as a former director of MWA, thanks for the service… it’s a tough gig.
    All best,

  6. Getting Tough II

    I’ve had lots of emails from people asking me what the new requirements are for publishers to be recognized by the Mystery Writers of America. They will be posted soon, but here are a some of the new additions/changes: 1.


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