SFWA membership is easier to qualify for

Friday, March 25, 2022

Tagged: interactive fiction, sfwa, professional validation for the win, if

Way back in 2016, SFWA -- the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association -- announced that game writers and narrative designers were eligible to join. And indeed I joined, and I've been a member in good standing ever since.

However, the membership criteria were kind of contorted. There was stuff about word count and how much money you made on a single work. I was lucky that Hadean Lands happened to fit the criteria. They dated back to the original conception of SFWA as an association of novelists, or maybe short story writers -- but novels were definitely better -- in a stable market of known publishers.

Well, stability is a dim memory, isn't it? So SFWA has spent the past twenty years patching the rules. First indie publishers, then self-publishing, digital publishing, cross-media publishing... the organization has expanded its membership criteria over and over. It got messy.

Cleanup time! The membership has overwhelmingly approved an update to the bylaws which simplifies the whole thing. The membership requirements now say:

A candidate shall be eligible for Full Membership if:

  • Their catalog of paid work in science fiction, fantasy, or related genres equals or exceeds an industry standard set by the board. ($1000)
  • For co-authored works or team projects, the candidate‚Äôs share must equal or exceed an industry standard set by the board. ($1000)
  • Proof of earnings will be guaranteed by affidavit.

This includes writing work on books, stories, videogames, tabletop games, comics, screenplays, whatever. Pretty much anything as long as it's English-language writing work in the genre, and your lifetime earnings total $1000.

(Poetry and criticism/non-fiction are currently not included, although this may be reconsidered. There is a separate Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, mind you.)

(The "affidavit" thing basically means that this is on the honor system. You don't need to get a letter from your boss or publisher proving that you made $1000.)

(The $1000 requirement is for full membership. SFWA also has associate members (non-voting, lower requirement) and affiliate members (for non-writers in the industry who want to stay in the loop with the writers' group).)

(Oh, and while I'm doing footnotes -- the web site still says "Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America". But the org is in the process of dropping the "America" part; it will just be "...Association" in the future. SFWA is open to writers of every nationality.)

If you're a professional game writer and you're reading this, you probably qualify.

So why do you care about SFWA? Is it worth the $100/year dues?

They've got a "Why Join" web page. I admit it's not very game-focused at the moment. However, I'm glad to be involved with the org, just as a representative of (one corner of) the games industry. I've had a hand in shaping the Nebula Award for Game Writing which launched in 2018.

Plus there's SFWA forums and chat sites where you can hang out. You know, how professional organizations do.

But in general, as more game writers and narrative designers join up, SFWA will become more relevant to games and the needs of game people. So that's why I'm writing this.

Take a look; see if it makes sense.