For many years as the publishing world changed, and digital books came to the forefront, organizations that represented authors took a ‘wait and see’ approach before including indie authors. This year, the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) has changed their policy and will welcome those authors that are published independently. There are still criteria to be met, as there is for the traditionally published.
Here are the details from their press release:
The MWA National Board of Directors is pleased to announce that starting January 1, 2017 self-published authors can apply for Active Membership Status. You can qualify by fulfilling either of the following criteria:
You have been paid for your work by a print, e-book, print-on-demand, periodical or e-zine/webzine publisher that is on the MWA list of approved publishers and meets all of the criteria for inclusion.
You have been self-published and have earned a minimum of $5,000 in a single calendar year from approved mystery works (novels, novellas, short stories), or suitable nonfiction titles, i.e., true crime; biographies of mystery authors; critical works about mysteries, their creators and characters; forensic works; or other nonfiction that is mystery or crime-related), either in print, electronically, or by way of an audio recording. (A “mystery work” is defined as a story where a crime is the central element.)
This earning requirement is a one-time event, meaning there is no need to generate a specified income each year to maintain one’s level of membership. The proof of earnings shall be either a US tax return (with all information not pertaining to publishing activity redacted) or an IRS Form 1099. These new criteria became effective January 1, 2017. However, MWA has agreed to accept proof of earnings for any calendar year beginning with 2014.
If your work is a contribution to a periodical, you must provide a hard copy. For an e-zine/webzine, you must provide a hard copy and proof of its online/electronic availability, even if the work is no longer available. A work must be available for a minimum of thirty days to be considered published.
Not eligible: Works offered through predatory i.e. subsidy publishing companies shall not qualify. (A predatory publisher is a company who assigns your book an ISBN number that subsequently belongs to them, i.e., they become the publisher of record that entitles them to receive an additional royalty whenever a book sells. They also set the book’s retail price.)
More details can be found on the MWA Website.