Is Joining a Authors Guild Worth It?

Do I Need an Authors Guild?

Am I wasting my money on an Authors Guild?

I’ve been a part of a number of author guilds/writer’s organizations at this point. I’ve tried IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association), and long ago the IWWG (International Women Writers Guild) and the Historical Novel Society. My experiences with each of these organizations and the benefits they offer members has varied dramatically. So overall, is joining an authors guild worth it?

My answer is- it depends. 1. I think it depends on what your goals are in doing so. Where are you in your author journey? What support are you looking to get? And 2. Have you done your homework? I can attest to the fact that there are an overwhelming number of guilds and support organizations out there. Some of them are more reputable than others. Others might be reputable, but just have more to offer than others. So, how do you choose?

Identify Your Needs

Different guilds have different focuses. Are you looking to improve your craft? Some organizations focus on retreats and learning sessions on craft based elements. Are you further along in the process and looking for more help with publication and marketing? There are organizations specializing in those elements as well. It’s also important to discern how you plan to publish. Are you aiming for traditional publishing or do you plan to publish independently? The answers to these questions will help you sift through the offerings to find the guild or support organization that might best serve your individual needs.

Peruse Authors Guilds based off YOUR needs

Who are you hoping to meet? You’ve hopefully determined your individual writing goals at this point. Now, it’s important to build your support network. Are you looking to meet other writers in your particular genre? If so, finding a guild that focuses on a particular niche genre could be helpful. For example, this was my reasoning when I joined the Historical Novel Society and SCBWI.

If you’ve determined a particular path to publishing that interests you, that could also impact your search. I knew I wanted to self-publish, so I wanted a guild that would help me with that. I joined IBPA to offer me benefits and discounts with the process and also advice through their podcasts and blog posts.

Give their offerings a cash value objectively

Here is where I made some mistakes and what I hope to pass on to you, my dear readers. Look for the return on your investment from the guild. What are you getting by joining? Is it worth the bang for your buck? 

Selecting the right Authors Guild

Some of these guilds offer minimal return for the annual investment. Instead they offer a conference or gathering for members where you have to pay an additional fee with the membership just offering a discount. That could be potentially worth it to you if you feel the conference is enough- just make sure the annual fee is not substantial. 

I, personally, have found the most value in the organizations that offer free webinars and content as part of their membership. I love the idea of conferences, but they’re expensive to attend and honestly, they get repetitive. But, content I can peruse at my leisure at home, or webinars I can attend in my pajamas fit my lifestyle. I also appreciate when these are included in my membership dues and there are no extra fees.

In addition to education, I have also found the most value in the organizations that offer partnerships and discounts with publishing and marketing providers. As a self-published author, this is invaluable because those expenses add up fast. So discounts and vetted sources and ideas for marketing are appreciated.

I hope this gives you ideas to consider when researching author guilds and organizations. If you have further questions on this topic, feel free to reach out in either the comments below or by email at

Author Guilds/ Support Organizations I recommend:

SCBWI for children’s book and YA creators

IBPA for self-published authors

ALLi for self-published authors- although this is less necessary if you’re a SCBWI member because they’ve teamed up and offered partnership incentives

Are you a member of a writer’s guild? Which ones have you found most beneficial?

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What is SCBWI?

What is SCBWI?

You may have heard of it, but what does the acronym stand for? What is SCBWI?

What is SCBWI?

What is SCBWI?

You’ve probably heard me refer to SCBWI at different times here on my website or in passing. But I’ve realized that to many of you, it’s probably just some acronym. So I wanted to take time today to actually answer this question. What is SCBWI?

SCBWI is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. It’s an international professional organization for children’s and young adult authors and illustrators. In other words, it’s a writing guild.

What is the SCBWI Mission?

Although the organization technically caters to the creators, their mission and outreach do so much more. They joke that their belief is there can never be too many good children’s books, and they stand by that. They do whatever they can to both support creators in creating their books and also in supporting the channels and networks to get the books into reader’s hands.

Is it worth joining SCBWI?

I’ve been asked by writers before- is it worth joining a guild like this? Do I actually get my money’s worth? My answer to you would be, it depends. In the second article in this series, I will get into answering this question in more detail. What I will say here is that SCBWI has been worth my time and money.

I’ve been a member of SCBWI for over ten years now. Although my personal journey has not always aligned with the more traditional offerings of the organization, I’ve always found some value in the organization. And now, SCBWI has even opened up a number of benefits for non-traditional authors like me as well!

For instance, as a member of SCBWI, you get a TON of learning and networking opportunities. They have regular webinars, socials, conferences and more. And this is in both your regional/local chapter and on the national/international level. One of my favorite benefits has been the ability to find and match with critique group members. This was how I found my own critique group many, many years ago! 

They also offer business resources and benefits. For instance, they’ve established an organizational relationship with the Alliance of Independent Authors so all SCBWI members have access to many of their independent publishing resources and directories. SCBWI also offers numerous ways to promote yourself and your work! They have speaker listings, book listings, grants, awards and tons, tons, more.

How does SCBWI benefit the community?

I’ve mentioned all the creator benefits, but I think it’s also important to mention the community benefits. As I stated earlier, part of SCBWI’s mission is also supporting the channels for getting books in the reader’s hands. This involves partnering and supporting teachers, librarians and booksellers as well. SCBWI offers a number of ways to support classrooms and libraries. These range from the speaker directory to help aid in finding guest authors for visits, recorded author readings and book talks, themed reading lists broken down by reading level and more!

I hope this helps explain that SCBWI is so much more than just an acronym. And if you are a reader with children in your life, I hope you take some time to peruse the website and share the many offerings with others as well.

Joyana has recently accepted a volunteer position with SCBWI as their new Mid-Atlantic Independent and Self-Published Coordinator. She will be coordinating networking and programming opportunities for other Indie authors like herself. Feel free to reach out to her with any questions about this at

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Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

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Nanowrimo 2022

Nanowrimo- Is it Worth It?

Each year millions of writers sign up, but only 10-15% finish. So, why all the hype?

Nanowrimo 2022
Why all the hype about Nanowrimo?
Nanowrimo- Is it Worth It?

Nanowrimo 2022

November is here and with that brings Nanowrimo 2022. In case you don’t know, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The time of year when SO many writers decide to take advantage of built in accountability, self-esteem boosts and commit themselves to writing a novel in a month. Are we masochists? Gluttons for punishment? There has to be a reason this is so popular, right? Or maybe it’s not really that hard to get 50,000 words on a page in a month.


Well, out of the 450 million of participants that sign up each year, only 10-15% of them actually finish. And since 1999 when the program began, only 250 manuscripts were ever picked up and actually published by traditional publishers. So why is there the continued hype?

Why with these crazy odds stacked against them, do writers continue to set up their profiles and get their butts in the chair each November 1st?

Why all the hype about Nanowrimo?

I think it comes down to a few reasons. The main one- Hope. Just like how the new year has become the perfect opportunity for a clean slate and goal setting time, Nanowrimo offers the possibility of getting ahead. Even if completion doesn’t occur, you’ve still got more words on the page than when you started. And isn’t that fulfilling in itself?

The second reason is– Permission. In a world where one of the hardest things about being a writer is finding time to write, a built-in excuse to prioritize writing for a few weeks is pretty darn tempting. Think of the psychology on this one. You’ve publicly committed to this goal to produce a particular word count. So, for that to happen– you have permission to let dishes and house cleaning pile up and fall back on pizza for dinner multiple nights in a row. You can even potentially take a few personal days and call in favors for extra childcare.

The third reason is– It’s temporary. Whenever there is a set timeframe and deadline, it is easier to justify making sacrifices that are harder to maintain long term. Yes, you can skip plans with friends for a few Friday nights or toss every birthday party invite in the trash during November. But keeping that up indefinitely? Much harder to maintain.

So, maybe that’s the allure of Nanowrimo. Maybe the majority of us even go in knowing it isn’t really about the completion of the novel. But having one month where we can tell our jobs, families, and just life in general, writing is prioritized. And if a few of your new habits fall over into the rest of the year? Even better.

For all of you participating in Nanowrimo– Good luck! I hope you find whatever fulfillment you seek out of the process!

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Memorial Day

What is the Memorial Day Writers Project?

Memorial Day

Memorial Day Writers Project

Thoughts and musings for Memorial Day on the bravery and value veterans bring to our lives! Thank you for your service!

From 2011 through 2014 I was involved in a Creative Writing MFA Program through the University of New Orleans. It was a low residency program, so it was online during the school year and then each summer we’d get together for a month-long residency abroad.

The flexibility of this program was one of the best things about it. As a result, it attracted a diverse student population. People of all ages, from all over the country, with entirely different life experiences were amongst my classmates.

It’s amazing how fast you get to know a person once you read their writing. Who needs small talk and ice breakers when you’re immediately reading a person’s inner-most thoughts and experiences? Fiction or not– there are always traces of the author’s real life and personality on that page.

Hurricane survival, divorces, medical issues, motherhood– we glimpsed it all through the words on the page. But the experiences that really stood out for me were the ones shared by military veteran classmates.

There were some of the expected heroic moments in action pieces and examinations of mortality. But there were other truly surprising reflective stories about human emotions, commonalities in cultures, and appreciation of the small things in life.

One of my favorite pieces was about the smell of rain in the air (petrichor, it is apparently called). The piece was absolutely beautiful and surprisingly peaceful for the haunting setting of a soldier on patrol in Afghanistan.

I was raised with two veteran grandfathers in my family. One who never spoke about his military experience, and one whose stories became family legend. I think this is a common classification amongst veterans– those who cope by burying and those who cope by sharing.

The Memorial Day Writers project originated from a group of the latter. A trio of Vietnam veterans created an annual assembly of veterans who wanted to create beauty from their catharsis. Every year they gather by the Vietnam monument and share song lyrics, poetry, and stories.

I admire the bravery of these men and women. Not only for their service, but also their willingness to lay themselves bare and create something beautiful from their pain.

So on this Memorial Day- I thank you veterans. I thank those who sacrificed their lives for us. I thank you all for your service. And for those who have returned, I thank you for the many ways you enrich us daily from your experiences.

Read more of Joyana’s articles about history, life and writing here!

Grammar- Should We Be Teaching It?

Grammar- Should We Be Teaching It?

Why Schools Feel It Is Not Necessary.

Grammar- Should We Be Teaching It?

Somewhere in the last twenty years schools decided to stop teaching grammar. This was not really discussed or debated– it just happened. Why?

The main argument has been a shift in educational philosophy. Instead of previous generations, where the focus was on rote learning and memorization and worksheets, new philosophies sing the praises of critical thinking and hands on learning. In theory, this is great. Critical thinking skills are necessary across the board and will set children up for success in life and in the workplace. But are these philosophies missing something?

Current Grammar Curriculums

If you look at most public school primary grade curriculums there is a hole in grammar fundamentals. The approach is that students will learn these skills as they go. Teachers will use grading rubrics touching on punctuation and basic grammar principles as a scale to teach as necessary. But does this work? What happens when no one teaches the basic principles of the English language? Will a foundation ever be laid if students never learn the basic rules?

Arguments abound from high schools, colleges and superiors in the workplace saying no, students have not picked up these fundamentals. Today’s recent graduates including those with university degrees, seem to be unable to construct a simple declarative sentence, either orally or in writing. They cannot spell common, everyday words. Basic grammar and punctuation appear to be a complete mystery to recent generations.

Do We Need to Understand Grammar?

But is this a problem? Many would still argue no, that with technology capabilities what they are, it is no longer necessary to understand grammar ourselves. It is true that most writing is done on computers and tablets now. Most students no longer even carry notebooks and pencils to school. But should we rely on spell and grammar check for everything? Is it even entirely accurate?

The flawed approach to this argument is computers will never replace the conversational tone of human beings. In theory, grammar and spell check will pick up basic level mistakes, but will it ever replace the true understanding of sentence structure? Or possibly capture the beauty and fluency of the English language? 

Computers can also never replace the use of grammar understanding when it comes to our conversational interactions. Much like the cashier who can no longer make change on their own, our reliance on technology impairs our own intelligence and skillset to connect.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Are we sacrificing by losing our fundamental understanding of the English language?

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Is Self Publishing Worth It?

Is Self Publishing Worth It?

Why Self Publishing was Worth It for Me-

In December of 2020, I officially submitted my completed manuscript to an editor. One MFA, ten years, two kids and I finally turned my manuscript baby into my first published novel! I knew the next six months would be rough, going through rounds of edits, formatting, publishing, marketing, learning the ropes of everything myself as I went. All while still balancing real life with a day job and family and in the midst of a pandemic. But I knew it was going to happen, I was getting published! But I know other authors have asked me- why I chose this path. Is Self Publishing Worth It? Here is why I believe it is.

Understanding you HAVE a Choice-

As I begin my author blog, I’ve been thinking about what I want that to look like. One of the things I want is for this to be a place where I’m transparent about the indie author journey and what goes on behind the scenes. The reason for that is I’m publishing this way as a conscious choice and I want others to understand that choice. Both as readers and also as other writers contemplating self publishing for themselves. I’m aware there is still a stigma attached to self publishing. But, I’m hoping by lifting this curtain, I can help alleviate some of those negative associations and help others understand why self publishing is worth it.

Like most other English majors and MFA grads, I always assumed traditional publishing was the only route worthy of considering. Self published authors were sell outs who couldn’t hack it with the publishing industry, right? So, I put in my dues. I joined the Writer’s Guilds and attended conferences. I listened to the agent/editor panels and furiously took notes about what they were looking for, what it would take to get past the gatekeepers. I even paid to have my manuscript reviewed by agents and editors. But after awhile, I started to question why.

I knew plenty of writers. Extremely talented writers, sitting on amazing manuscripts, waiting for their chance to come. They sent out endless pitch letters just praying to be accepted. I even knew writers who HAD been picked up by agents only to have the process take years till publication. And then they were still responsible for all the marketing themselves and only claiming about 30% of each sale. I heard repeated over and over that writers don’t go in it for the money, it’s for the love of the art, right? But in this digital age where anyone with a voice and an internet connection can build a following should that really still be the case?

Making the Choice to Self Publish-

Yes, there are still self published authors who give credence to the hack stigmas. But there are also extremely talented, big name authors out there who either began their careers by self publishing or who are now leaving their traditional publishing houses to voluntarily self publish moving forward. Some examples include Andy Weir, Margaret Atwood, Kwame Alexander and even Stephen King. Why? Because it makes more financial sense! And gives an author complete independence and authority over their work.

As a society we applaud entrepreneurs and small business owners. So, I think it’s time that we encourage and support authorpreneurs as well. I look forward to sharing this journey with you and I hope I encourage others to share their own work as well!