Life's not fair

APRIL 25, 2012 6:41PM

Authors Guild to allow "associate" memberships (update)

Rate: 44 Flag


Got this email today: 

Our members voted at last month's annual meeting to open Guild membership to self-published authors. All of the rules aren't in place yet, but self-published authors who earn at least $500 in writing income in the 18 months prior to applying do qualify for associate membership.  (Associate members receive all the benefits of regular members, except for voting in elections.)  

Self-published authors will also be able to qualify for regular membership, but our board has to establish the income threshold for that category.  We'll be updating our materials to reflect the change after the board acts, but in the meantime, you may qualify for associate membership.  Please let me know if you're interested.

Terry King

The Authors Guild
31 East 32nd St., 7th Floor
New York, NY 10016
212-563-5904; fax: 212-564-5363




 [original post]

I thought what the hey, it's ninety bucks I can't afford but now that I have two books for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble I'm an author, right?  It's only natural I align myself with others of my ilk for the services offered and, more importantly, for the illusion of solidarity.  Heck, I mused, maybe I could get a classy Authors Guild ring or an esoteric ear stud or really neat T-shirt or maybe, oh lordy, a one-size-fits-all baseball cap with AG upon it!!

Plus, I thought my ninety smackers would help the AG do what my NRA dues do to help keep my gun-nut brethren and sistren free from meddling hoplophobes who would mess with  our God-given right to protect ourselves and loved ones from home invaders and rogue drone attacks.  

So I filled out the online application form and clicked "send." Within minutes I received an automated reply affirming receipt of my application and informing me my application would be reviewed.  Fine, I thought, finally somebody in the venerable halls of literary authenticity would be reading something I wrote.  Someone did, allegedly.  This afternoon I received the following:


Dear Mr. Paust:

Thank you for your recent application for membership in the Authors Guild. The Membership Committee has asked me to advise you that the record of publication you provided us does not qualify you for membership at this time.  

Contracts with American book publishers that may qualify you for membership must include all three of the following:      

-  a provision by which the author retains ownership of the copyright;

-  a significant advance;

-  a provision which specifies the manner in which royalties are calculated and a mechanism by which they will be paid.

Advances are standard among established American publishers, and therefore are among the most important criteria we use to determine eligibility.  If you are offered a contract which includes the aforementioned stipulations, we will be happy to consider your application at that time.

Please consider re-applying when you have a contract with an established American publisher meeting the criteria above.


Terry (Terence) King Membership Dept.

The Authors Guild

31 East 32nd St., 7th Floor

New York, NY 10016

212-563-5904; fax: 212-564-5363


Well, indeed, I gasped inwardly, struggling with an immediate impulse to download an image of someone flipping the bird and attach it as my response to Terry (Terrence) King's snooty brush-off.  bird

My struggle ultimately succeeded in suppressing this immature impulse, despite my managing in the meantime to acquire the desired image for perhaps a further use.

I did, however, dispatch the following painfully polite yet pointed rejoinder to the pompous poobahs:


Dear Guild Membership Committee: So were I to sell twenty thousand self-published books you would still bar me from membership unless I had the financial blessing of "an established American publisher" behind me?  I wonder.  I'm surprised the Guild would persist with such traditional exclusionary admission requirements during such a significantly grim technological sea change in which the exponentially growing e-book phenomenon is bringing down brick-and-mortar book retailers like the Walls of Jericho.  Your "significant advance" stricture appears especially archaic considering that "established American publishers" are themselves taking on such significant water in this market upheaval.  So significantly that cash advances for all but those names deemed most marketable are shrinking, dare I say, significantly, thus contributing to the downward spiral of opportunity that encourages more and more new writers to bypass the long and winding crapshoot for a traditional industry blessing and leap, ambivalently at best, into Amazon's eager octopus arms. 

I find this intransigence on your part particularly ironic in the shadow of Mr. Turow's recent letter to the membership still reverberating in my mind, which decries the evidently impending federal antitrust lawsuit to stop Apple and "five large trade book publishers" from cooperating to break Amazon's stranglehold market grab "using e-book discounting to destroy bookselling, making it uneconomic for physical bookstores to keep their doors open."

I was about to ask you to reconsider your rejection of my application for membership, but now I'm reconsidering, wondering just what value I might receive for the dues expenditure to an organization that would remain irrevocably married to a rapidly obsolescing model, which, despite the wailing of its president that the ship is in dire straits, seems helpless to adapt to the changing times. 

Matt Paust
Insignifcantly advanced author

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You don't need their stinkin badjez, Matt.
EXACTLY what dirndl said.
Come on Matt--are you genuinely surprised? Five will get you ten the organization is supported by the publishers and if there are any benefits to membership it is in their interests.

Blogging and self-publishing is a different business. We are not in the club, and I suspect the club is closing ranks. It may not even serve us any more to say we are bloggers if we want that advance.

But that's the bad news, the good news for now is we can say almost any damn thing we want, and build our audience among those who are in the same boat. Hey, you've heard of The Bloggers Association of America, haven't you? They have free cookies at the koffee clatch on Fridays.
Did you tell them you blurbed my book? That would put you over the top.
You expended a lot more enegry on your reply than I would have. I would have simply said: "Fuck you and the horse ya rode in on." But that's just me.
Was it Mark Twain or Groucho Marx who declined membership in any club that would accept someone like him as a member?
Your letter said it all. I take a wicked pleasure in seeing "the establishment" of the publishing world slowly crumble as the freedom of e-publishing allows anyone to share his or her writing with the world. To be accessible to readers and then to be judged by what you write, not by selling potential or due to who you know, is an enormous breakthrough for writers, and justice finally coming into the writing world. You don't need their lousy membership. No writer does or ever did. To quote French Goth-Madonna-esque figure Mylene Farmer, "Fuck them all!" You are a writer because you write - it's something within you. No one else can tell you any differently, and you don't need a badge or tee-shirt or anything else to prove it.
jmac, I think that was Groucho.
But cheer up, Matt.
There are many far worthier folk who want you to drop dead.
Great response. Let us know if they finger back, er, send something back!
I got in, told them I received a 'significant' advance from Howling Wolf Production!! They were quite impressed and for another $179.99, I got a neat pin to stick on my lapel.

Yes, I do haz lapels!! Teehee!!

I r a respectable author!!!!

Teeheeeheee!! ~:D
Why is he Terry (Terrence)?
I'll advance you 10 bucks on your next book. Do you think that's significant enough? I'll even let you keep the copyright and will write up a contract describing our division of royalties. And if that doesn't work, I'll get you a badge. I think Con's got a Notary one around somewhere that I can get my hands on.
Shit, Matt, where's your $90????

Perhaps Terrance has his nose far enough up in the air that you can look up it and see if your cash is rolled up in one of his nostrils. Clearly, they must think alot of themselves to charge this much for reviewing your application -- no offence intended.
Well said. This organization smells as though its interest is in perpetuating its own influence, not in supporting its membership. Seems rather unseemly, yet not surprising. One has to refer to Graucho Marx stating that, I do not want to be part of an organization that would want me as a member.... in this case, you are on the right side ... out is in, I would like to feel.
Despite our advanced ages, Matt, I suspect that you and I will live to see the last conventional book entombed in a time capsule, along with the last traditional publisher. By the way, if you get your $90 back, may I borrow it? It should cover the cost of my next self-published book.
Ditto Dirndl skirt!
Author's Guild, Author's Shmuild...

I see you took the box of cruise wear down from the attic.
But I want one so baaaaadly, Sharon! Oh...sniff sniff sniff...boohoohoo, etc.

I thought I did, Joanie, but now I'd be almost ashamed...oh, who am I kidding? I want to be part of the in-crowd!

I suspect you're right, Ben. And if they let in just anybody than just anybody might be able to slip past their gatekeepers and some agent's reader might actually get stuck with a manuscript because. well, he is a Guild member... Maybe we should start an Indie Authors Guild, excluding anybody who's received a significant advance from an established American publisher.

Hrmph, indeed, Miguela, to which I would add: ptui!

Probly a good thing I forgot, Crank, or they might have blackballed you, too.

Believe me, David, I came damned close to doing that. I did do it years ago when returning a rejection letter from a newspaper I'd applied to for a reporting job. I'd had a brew or two and wrote across the letter, addressing it to the editor who'd signed it, KISS MY ASS. I heard years later it was still talked about in the higher echelons of that pissant rag.

Groucho, Mac, and I'm starting to feel that way.

A T-shirt woulda been nice, tho, Alysa.

That's comforting, Kim. Made my day.

Sheila, they probly have an image of a hand holding a teacup with its pink waving in the air.

Tink, you bastard!!

Damon, he obviously felt he could trust me enuf to share his full given name. That's the main reason I held back on flipping him the bird.

I am humbled, J.L., that you would go to such trouble. Do you really think Con would go along with it?

Uncle Chris, the 90 is the dues if the committee raises the gate and lets you in. My nose is still stuck between the slats.

inthisdeepcalm, they probly all wear saffron jackets when they meet for awards dinners or whatever. Saffron doesn't work on me. It's just as well.

Arthur and Don, thanks, guys. You do realize, I hope, that by commenting on this post you have blown any chance of consideration for membership yourselves in this august organization?
Leepin, this was the very first avatar photo I used when I started here as Clarkk. The hoodie one was starting to scare me, so I reverted back to a more congenial look.
let's start our own.
I want to be on the membership committee, Sharon!

I've not had my dander thusly lathered since Great Grandad was blackballed by the Buggy Whip Weavers Benevolent Assn.
Felt good, didn't it, Steve!
Well said. It's kind of shocking that in this day and age, they're still holding onto a legacy model of "prove you're a writer" crap.
Ditton Dirndl skirt too!
Matt---These guys are worthless. They got nothing. Your response was right on the money.
Of course it was a waste of money. No one is paid anything for writing anything, any more. And those people who have aspirations of being authors are suckers for "writer's guilds," "writer's seminars," "writer's weekends," "writer's magic underwear" and so many other appeals to the ego. Undoubtedly, people in this "guild" will offer to publish your book for a huge up-front fee. Which will also incur greater debt, since nobody will buy it.
Great rejoinder Matt. I'll add my voice to dirndl's comment and Groucho's maxim. But now you'll never find out about that secret handshake.
Why did you tell them you wrote for Hustler; it's an established American publisher. Let them come to you, Matt. Meanwhile, you don't need them. R
I'm so glad you didn't stoop so low as ask for 1 dollar from each of your commenters to chip in for one of those AG knockoff caps & T-shirts! R
Hey! The wise man from Missouri took my line!

To which I would add, " Terry, yis ugly, yis momma dress you funny and yis got a silly name."
I didn't send them anything, but they wanted it. Said I would I always, as long as the sun shines, be an author on their site and anyone who searched my name there would bring up "Author". I wasn't about to depart with any money until I was sure, so I did a little investigating. It seems they do nothing but sit back and collect money. Good Riddance!
[r] an elegant putdown. libby
Matt you have my backing and that's worth a hell of a lot more. R.
Are you kidding?? Your reply alone should be enough to qualify!! What condesending chutzpah!
What utter nonsense. Damned snobs indeed!
Look at yourself in the mirror every day and announce your authorship. Change your OS banner to AUTHOR PAUST..
Actually change your name to Author Paust....let them dare challenge that!
Briliiant retort, Matt. That is probably the most stimulating and erudite response to a rejection letter they have ever received.
Geez indeed, Mission.

Duane, I wonder if this was just the first screening barrier. Next would come instructions to kill the Wicked Witch of the East or some such nonsense. Never ending until one suddenly gets the right inflection on "open sesame." They're a cyber gated community. Need to keep the rabble out. I'm surprised Terry's last name isn't Zimmerman.

Dunno what I'd do, Ferns, without you ladies on my side.

Thanks, Roger. I do respect Scott Turow, tho - his writing anyway. He's a Chicago guy, too, I believe.

I didn't pay, Neutron. The $90 would be the dues were I accepted.

Abrawang, I'd like to teach them the not-so-secret finger shake.

Damn, Thoth, I'd forgotten about the Hustler pieces. Actually I am published in True Detective. Have several stories in those mags some 25 years ago. Used the name Ben McGillicutty.

What a terrific idea, Marilyn! Maybe if enuf of you gave me a buck I could call it "a significant advance" and they'd let me it. Then I could open the bathroom window and let all the rest of you in.

My sentiments precisely, Seer. Thanks.

V, I'm trying to picture meeting him at a Guild soiree. "Hi, Terry here! You may called me Terrence."

Kate, I've thought of screenwriting. Even have a script about half done. My daughter joined the Actors Guild without any fuss. All she's done is some "extra" work.

We don't need them, Scanman.

Thanks, Libby.

No question about that, Jon. Thanks, bubba.

Steve's Mom, I hear ya!

I'd do that, Ande, but afraid I might start giggling uncontrollably, which would frighten the cats.

Thanks, Erica. I'd like to think so, but I suspect most people prefer to dismiss them with a poke at the "delete" button.
They're running scared. But they can't outrun the tsunami.

Wait. The money. Did they keep your $90?
They never got a nickel, Linnnn. That would have been the dues
had they accepted me. They might be out-of-date elitists, but at least they aren't out-of-date thieves - yet.
Matt,get the dust off your shoes and move on!!!
What these crazy guys are doing to you is insulting.
Good to know:Now you can get your money back before resigning.
What an arrogance!
The advancement statement says it all:"All you need,MONEY!!!..."
OS should think about a Members'Guild.That is probably far better and encouraging then what you have encountered.
I did not know (but I had my suspicion)that selling ebooks would leave nothing for the author.
It is sickening.We have to work out a concept that is working in a totally contrary direction.JLSatre said it so well.
I for my part am not willing to pay anyone but you for your books,and if there is a possibility like a self-publisher,as Cranky Cuss has been involved with,you can count me as a member.
But I still prefer giving you the money.You know what you are worth,so you can definitely be on the market.
Have you ever considered being a member of the international pen club?
How does the tip on OS function?Could I pay into your account,or is there someone else(the provider) to take the cash or 50% of it?
I always thought this was more of an American thing.
I am actually quite shocked about such rudeness even so I know that this is fashionable and usus.
100 % for you,Matt!!!
Here is my order for the wood-book.
(100 % for that one and another for your first book,sums up to 300%!!!
If we just close our eyes to reality then nothing will change right?
In the words of the old guy in that movie...Screw 'Em! Well written rebuttal Matt!
I'm in total agreement with David McClain's comment. ;)
Bless your heart, Heidi, but don't you worry about the tip function. I don't think it even works. I wrote a piece about it here over a year ago because a couple of our members were down on their luck. You have to set up an account with them, few if any had done that. I "tipped" a couple of people but learned later the money was never claimed. So maybe it went into OS's pockets. Also, thanks, sweetheart, for buying my books. That's the best vote of confidence I can ever imagine.

Bob, that "see no evil" mentality seems to be popular among the dinosaur set.

Thanks Doug and Belinda. I'm sure they found my little tantrum rather amusing in their exclusive club room. "Oh, look at this. One of the barbarians actually thinks he could one of us...ahahahaha."
It occurred to me, after I wrote my first comment, that their behavior illustrates why their industry is crumbling. No business person in his right mind would turn down $90 freely offered. What kind of business model is that? They should have kept the money, and given you some sort of second-class membership. Call it "adjunct," or something like that, with the promise that if you get a contract from an established publisher, they will promote you to full membership -- provided you send $125 more. And if your book is a best-seller, you will be entitled to pay $1,000 and get a gold star next to your name.

As we were reminded recently, it is best to stay off the Titanic.
holy smoke! you really ARE a writer!
I mean, i doubt i coulda crafted that "traditional exclusionary admission requirements during such a significantly grim technological sea change " sentence ...

Ha! I learned a new word today..." hoplophobes": fear of weapons...also fear of armed citizens, which i gotta admit i got
a little bit of, but that doesnt include you, cuz you are my friend
and wouldnt shoot me, even if i showed up some morning at 3 am.
We will use the password, "obsolescing", so you know it's me.
I like pizza. Any kind. And diet coke. Get alot of diet coke.
Also, I like marijuana if ya got any.
I know an old dude like you would want to be a good host.

Hey, seriously: these guilders, i think they are a buncha elitist
Brilliant idea, Arthur! Adjunct members, sort of an apprenticeship for suckers who would serve as waiters during the club dinners and clean up afterward. BTW, they never got my $90, which would have been due as dues only if they'd accepted me. But the adjunct membership idea is worth a gold pin just for thinking of it. Adjunct members could get little hats to wear, folded out of newsprint like the guys in the pressroom used to make (maybe still do). We'd hafta wear knickers, too, until advanced to full membership whereupon full length pants would be allowed. As you can see, I'm not only warming to this idea, I'm on FIRE!!!

Jim, I dunno where that sentence came from. Maybe Newgate dictated it to me. Reading it over this morning I had to squint to figure out what the hell it meant. I'm still not completely certain.
You'll be welcome to visit after my wife kicks me out, which won't be long, I'm afraid. She's convinced I've been carrying on with Joan Stonebraker and has been consulting a divorce lawyer. Apparently I talk in my sleep.
Oh,James and Matt,
could you not start a comedian show,I mean:Your Own?
It would be great fun watching you two.The dialogue between you just now is material enough for your first sketch.
If I order your book now,how many % of the selling is for you?
A couple of bucks, Heidi. Not much. Actually I get a little more for the ebook, which sells at a lower cost.
if wifey poo kicks you out, i am willing to start a comedy duo w/u.
u? erudite warrior bearded elder type.
me? fuck knows...maybe a guy who is wispier than
usually allowed by gals when judging an attractive male,
yet with big shoulders and ALOT of hair.

and the friendship of a Paust.

if wife is wise enough to allow matt to go,
then alot of women are available...we just gotta talk em out of
their prejudices against our sex.

the worst one, after the whole animalistic rapist view they got,
is that we aint good at reading.
we read plenty.

they read faster cuzza their girly eyes, which are quicker to flick.
Aren't we too damned serious for comedy, Jim? Maybe a musical act: We can share the women
we can share the wine...
Oh my...what a post. Funny as hell, but what jerks the Guild are. I have to say, if ever there's an exclusive club, I get turned down. Hanging with the outsiders suits me fine though...they have more interesting things to say.
I didn't even known there was an author's guild. Is it like the Elk's Lodge, where you get bad discount steak dinners on Thursdays? Now my imagination is running wild. Are there uniforms -- like Hogwarts? Secret handshake? Sacred pens? Oh well, if we're ever subjected to the Author's Guild sorting hat, I hope I get whatever house you're in.
Hi, Maureen. I've always been an outsider, too, but I thought just this once it might be worthwhile, especially as writers as a group are sort of regarded by the rest of the world as outsiders.

Bell, now I'd like to get a job as a waiter for one of their dinners for one night, just to satisfy my writer's curiosity. Maybe pinch a table favor or something with the hallowed AG embossed upon it. It would make a great OS avatar.
Matt,as the saying goes:

"Ein Prophet gilt nichts in seinem Vaterland"

"A prophet has no honor in his own country"(
Matt,as you know:I prefer reading a book when holding it in my hands.For now,I have ordered the kindle edition and I left a comment on FB.
Well the way things are going, pretty soon they will admit no one but Snooki and the Kardashians. I'd rather read your books any day.
I don't know from Snooki, Annie, but who can avoid at least hearing about the Kardashians? I supposed a coffee table photo album would be worth checking out - at least for me.