SFWA to raise membership bar

Just read in the SFWA online update that they’re planning to change the qualifying pay requirements for a market to be deemed “pro” from three cents a word to five cents. The decision needs to be confirmed by the counsel to be finalized, but the membership board unanimously passed it.

On one hand, it’s high time the rate change is made. Three cents a word has been the minimum “professional” rate for decades, in defiance of basic economic realities like cost of living and inflation. Frankly, calling even five cents a word a “professional” rate is laughable, much less the previous three cents. A writer would still be way below the poverty level if they were to try to earn a living based solely upon short fiction sales at five cents a word. Hell, it’s nearly impossible for a novelist, much less a short story writer, to make a decent living these days.

On the other hand, it’ll make it much more difficult for earnest SFWA applicants and borderline markets to qualify. Some previously qualifying markets will probably lose that distinction unless they increase what they pay writers, which may strain already shaky markets into bankruptcy. And the SFWA risks being viewed (moreso) as overly elitist by its potential target members.

I dunno. On a personal level it doesn’t impact me all that much. I’ve got two solidly qualifying sales at any criteria level (Cicada and Cricket) under my belt and two other sales that may qualify, pending committee review. Although they look less likely if this increase passes. Paradox pays three to five cents a word. They may up their rate to five cents, but they’re a very new publication. I worry about the financial stability of any beginning publishing enterprise. Phobos Books already pays a minimum of six and a half cents a word (more depending upon length of story) for their contest winners, but I’m pretty sure they only pay four cents a word for their Galaxy anthology. But again, they may increase their rates if this passes in order to qualify.

But even if Paradox and Phobos don’t end up qualifying, I fully expect to make a solid third sale eventually. I’m pretty confident I’ll qualify for active membership in the fullness of time. It might be a little fuller than I had first thought, but it’ll happen. So I guess it’s not an impossibility for a veritable unknown to rise to the ranks of active membership even at the new increased rates. But it just got somewhat harder. Not sure what to think about this development.

Shunting aside the business and political end of writing in favor of the important stuff:
New words on the novel: 1300, anti-words: 200

And I’ve pulled down a couple stories from Critters to review. One of them is the first two chapters of a novel from a regular critter and a person I consider a friend. I always look forward to his submissions in the queue. He frequently manages to surprise me. I always think his efforts are going to be solid Fantasy, and then I discover there’s a major Science Fiction element underlying the whole thing. Neat.

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One Response to SFWA to raise membership bar

  1. oracne says:

    Flat rate anthology sales don’t work the same as magazines that pay by the word, so I would think Phobos would still count. Anyway, I think it’s grandfathered, since it already came out.

    Am not absolutely sure of these things, mind you, but I remember some of this being discussed online a few months ago.

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