I'm trying to become official. An official writer according to other official writers. Let me tell you, people: it's humbling. Humbling and exciting. And getting expensive.
First, I joined the Writers' League of Texas. $50. (Actually, I first joined AWP, but that was a few years ago, and I joined that because I love reading about writing and writers. It makes me feel like part of the "club.") The Writer's League has a conference this summer on all-things-agent-related, which I would attend if I had the funds. But there are many other advantages to supporting this group--workshops, contests, scholarships--all of which I'm still discovering. If you're a writer in Texas, you should join this group.
Last night, I submitted an application to The Author's Guild. This is the big one in New York, and the dues are a bit higher--$90. You have to have a book already published or shorter works published in significant (The New Yorker, anyone?) places before getting accepted into The Author's Guild. The more I browsed the site, the more excited I became. Look who I could be, I kept telling myself. (Delusions of grandeur sometimes happen on these website excursions of mine.) But people, you have to drool over a writer's association that has Scott Turow as Pres. and Judy Bloom as Vice Pres. I've got the required book contract, but I knew the "significant advance" requirement was iffy. After all, Blooming Tree is a small press. This morning, I opened my gmail account to a lone, kind email informing me that the Guild can't process my application because they "lack sufficient documentation of your publishing credentials."
What? What about that beautiful cover on Amazon.com, on BN.com, and Borders? What about my slick ISBN number? And what about my ultra-cool blurbs? That's not significant documentation? Ah, those dastardly vanity presses who have equal access to the internet! It's their fault. Anybody can post "publishing credentials" online and become a writer or a critic these days. True, I think my spine it still too weak to take on the inevitable criticism to which my book will soon be subjected, but look at the pretty cover, Mr. Guild!
My next step is to send The Author's Guild a copy of my book contract so they can scrutinize it to determine if my advance was big enough (ah--is it ever?) and if the contract deems that I am truly a "professional" yet. At this moment, I am reliving my fifth-grade angst in the midst of pretty girls whose bodies are growing proportionately, in contrast to my own chubby flesh. When I pack up the copy of my contract, I will say a prayer over the postage stamps and kiss the envelope addressed to NY, NY. Please love me, Author's Guild.