PRO or PAN? Or Something in Between?

11 Aug

By Liz Everly

I’ve been a professional writer for about 30 years. By definition, I mean someone who gets paid for their writing on a regular basis. I’m a relatively new fiction writer in some regards, in that I’ve only started getting paid for my fiction, oh, let’s say, in the past five years. Much of that money has come from my mystery series. Not from my romances—but we’ll get to that later.

Tempting Will McGlashen by Liz Everly - 500Unknown

Cravings

Saffron

I’ve been to MANY writer’s conferences and, in my opinion, the best, both in terms of money and opportunities, is the one held by the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). This is an outfit that you have to meet strict criteria to even join. But when you go to their conference, all are treated equally. Every person can go to every session. Every person has a choice of what to do with the time for which they have paid. Let me repeat this: Even if you are not a member, you can go to all of the sessions.

Not so at the RWA National conference. Did you know that?

Within the conference, there are several “retreats” and chapter events. The chapter events and/or parties usually cost you extra. Upwards of $40. Some of the chapter events I would have gone to had I had the money were the Kiss of Death event and the Passionate Ink party. But I didn’t go—no extra funds for either of those events. This conference is one of the most expensive ones I’ve been to, even without all of the extra places you can plunk down even more money.

Such is life.

A couple of the “retreats” are held within the conference— PRO and PAN retreats. PRO is section of the membership that has just been published, or is close to getting published (with a contract), or has finished a novel, with proof of submission to an editor or agent.   In order to qualify for the next level, writers must make $1,000 on ONE BOOK (not a series) of ONLY ROMANCE writing. This is the membership for which I qualify. Because I’ve made under $1,000 on each of my romance books, I don’t qualify for the group I REALLY belong in—which is the PAN group,  the published authors network. ($1000 is a lot for a digital-only title to earn.) Of course PAN had their own “retreat” which was full of information I could have used. I looked over the PRO retreat schedule and knew it wasn’t for me at this point in my career.

I am certain that I’m not the only writer the attended the conference who had this special situation. But people were very surprised when they looked at my badge and saw that I wasn’t PAN. I was on a panel. I’ve published 3 romances with Kensington, one with Tirgearr, and an anthology with Harper Impulse. Plus, there is the mystery series, which most people know me by.

It is what it is.

I always said I was very proud of my ASJA membership because I had to work for it. I totally get having different levels of membership. But to have these sessions at a conference that are closed to people who don’t “qualify”? Shouldn’t it be up to the attendee to make up their mind what they are interested in? What would be the most helpful for them at this point in their careers? Everybody is paying the same fee:  writers are a smart bunch, why not leave it up to them to choose?

6 Responses to “PRO or PAN? Or Something in Between?”

  1. krblake August 12, 2015 at 2:48 am #

    For the longest time (first published in 2003) even though I was a published author, I did not qualify for PAN. I felt like I was in writer purgatory. Sort of neither here nor there, so I totally understand what you are saying. I agree that it should be up to the attendee, not the conference as to which workshops an individual attends. That’s not to say having tracks directed toward beginning, middle or advanced writers is a bad thing, but I don’t think they need to be exclusive, either. I realize RWA wants to make PAN a goal their members strive to attain, but I’m not sure the secret handshake is helping anyone reach that goal It didn’t help me, though I did apply for PRO and then PAN as soon as I was eligible. Even so, I’m not sure I was ever given the “real” secret handshake, since I’m not published by one of the big five New York publishers. Though, I must admit publishing with them is no longer one of my goals, either. You are not alone.

    Like

    • Liz Everly August 12, 2015 at 5:53 am #

      Thanks for commenting. Yes–I think tracks are a good idea at the conference. And good to know I’m not alone.

      Like

  2. Stephanie August 11, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    Hi Liz!

    I’m not an RWA member so forgive my ignorance, but is there a time constraint on the $1K earning req? And do you have to have made the thousand last year to qualify, meaning making $1K five years ago won’t continuously qualify you for years to come? Plus – What doe PAN mean? Your description of PRO (if taking the meaning of pro at face value) doesn’t sound pro to me. It just seems odd. I haven’t been to a writing conference, so hearing about these tiers is very interesting to me.

    Like

    • Liz Everly August 12, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

      I’m not sure about the time limit. As far as I know, it is just $1,000 on ONE romance book, not a series. I think PAN means Published Author Network. Pro, I guess, is supposed to mean you are a professional writer–or on your way to being one, but not making much money? LOL.

      Like

  3. Sandy Raven August 11, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    I agree, Liz. There isn’t any information in one of those “retreats” that isn’t available in another workshop (at the same conference even!) or online. It’s about trying to make the retreat-goers feel more advanced than some of the others. And I’m speaking as a entirely self-pubbed PAN member, who really kinda doesn’t care about the PAN membership. It offers me nothing. This year, I found myself attending craft and self-publishing track workshops, because I’m always trying to learn about writing a better, deeper book. Curiously, didn’t even go to the PAN retreat at all. Last year, aside from one or two speakers, all I heard at the table (at the PAN retreat in San Antonio,) was bitching. Why would I want to expose myself to that? This business is hard enough without being influenced by the whining and negativity?

    Also, I’m loving y’all’s blog. Keep up the good work!

    Like

    • Liz Everly August 11, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

      Thanks so much for your kind words about the blog, Sandy. And, whew, your response makes me feel a little better. I hate feeling like I’ve missed the best part of the conference because I’m not a PAN member. LOL. I also got the feeling about making some of the retreat-goers feel more advanced than others. I agree with you about the bitching and moaning. Who needs it? Pffft!

      Like

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