I have in-laws arriving in 72 hours, my guest room looks like a hurricane blew threw it, my refrigerator contains the cure for cancer in one of those fuzzy green containers, I have to make sure I go get the requisite Cheerios for paternal consumption, stock the pretty basket with tropical fruit, locate my Hawaii driving tour CDs, and pack for a cruise that commences in less than a week. (And a million other things, you can bet.)
So why am I paying attention to the PRO debate raging throughout blogland?
Because, as usual, it brings out the romance bashers, usually anonymous and usually in the comments trails.
Anna Genoese first discussed PRO here. I don't necessarily disagree with her. She's an editor and, as such, she gets to say what she wants to see in a query. If she doesn't care about PRO status, then don't give it to her. If she wants to know that you enjoy doing yoga naked while writing love scenes, then by golly tell her that.
Unfortunately, I think I detect from her post that some idiot (or a group of idiots) got carried away with the PRO thing in queries. For the record, I do have my PRO status. I didn't apply for it for a long time because I didn't think it mattered a hill of beans. I thought it was just another salve to soothe the unpublished soul.
But I finally decided to join when I wanted to know what went on in the PRO loops. And, by gum, there's a lot of good stuff there! A lot of talented, smart people who discuss things that matter. No questions about font or how to move a character from room A to room B without narrating every single step.
OTOH, PRO is ridiculously easy to join. Finish a manuscript, mail it to an editor or agent, show proof of completion and mailing, and you're in. I'm going to guess that most people are conscientious enough to try to send out their best work, but I'm sure there are those who dash off a mss, mail it, and get the pin so they can get preferential treatment at National.
PRO is great in that it's meant to encourage writers to finish a manuscript. Many people want to write, many write partials, not everyone finishes a mss. Kudos to those who do. I believe PRO is a good program.
But you know, I don't think it matters what RWA does or says. We are open to ridicule simply because the word “romance” is contained in our name. If you had to have an agent, three books under consideration, and your RWA number tattooed on the inside of your lip to be a PRO, you'd still find folks who'd ridicule it.
And perhaps PRO is the wrong name anyway, as the connotation suggests (to me) someone with several books in print. But what the hell else are they going to call it? RWA-Almost There? RWA-I Did It? RWA-Done One?
Miss Snark also weighs in. Again, she isn't wrong, but see the comments trail for RWA bashing (and some darn fine defenses of the program). It's always interesting how writers in other genres, published or not, love to heap scorn on RWA. Then again, if the unpubs could join their respective organizations, they might not be so snide toward us. Yeah, we got our problems, that's for sure. But RWA took me in when I didn't know diddly and taught me a lot. It will always have my undying gratitude and respect for that.
So be proud you're a PRO. But don't think it means more than it does. It's simply a step on the ladder.
Have fun with the parents… and the cruise. Cyn
This is a new developement since I left RWA, and a good one, I think. While I was still a member, my critique group started a little ritual of giving Hopi storyteller charms to writers on completion of their first manuscript, and I still think it’s an important milestone that needs to be commemorated. Just getting to The End is a huge accomplishment. It’s a beginning, as well as an end.
Terry, I think PRO is a good thing, too. I think it’s meant to be an internal incentive program and not something to use in queries, which is what I take it some writers have been doing. OTOH, some romance editors/agents have said they like to know when a writer has PRO status.
I agree with you that it’s an important milestone and needs to be marked with a litte ritual of some sort. In my chapter, we’ve started giving out little things for achievements. On Saturday, I gave one of our members a tiara (she is up for a RIO) and several others got “Olympic” medals (kids party favors) to mark an accomplishment. It’s fun and it lets everyone celebrate. 🙂
Hey, if you hear anything else about Trish, please let me know. I know I’m going to miss a lot in the next couple of weeks, but if there’s any news, I’d like to know.
Did you get the note KC sent? If not, I’ll forward it to you.
I love PRO. I miss it — they kicked me out, rabble-rouser that I am 😉 — it’s too bad that people are badmouthing it. But I believe, as some of MIss Snark’s commenters mentioned, that it’s an interior designation and that it doesnt’ mean much to outsiders. Who cares what people who aren’t in RWA think about the three-letter designation given to that portion of hte membership? They need ot mind their own business. If they knew that PROs get great email loops, regular bootcamps with bestsellers, major buyers from book chains, publicity department of harper Collins, independent publicists, agents, literary lawyers, contract specialists, etc. etc. etc… they’d stop making fun of the name and start feeling jealous of the perks.
Terry, I got the note. Wow. I had no idea.
Diana, good points about all the perks. We do get a lot of great stuff for being PRO. And you are so right that people need to mind their own business. 🙂 I get my knickers in a twist, I guess, because I’m sensitive to romance-bashing by folks who have little reason to feel superior. I know I should just ignore them. 🙂
What’s really funny is I read Anna Genoese’s post when she first made it (she’s on my friends list on LJ) and my thought was that she’d gotten one too many query letters using the PRO designation as a credit on a day when she was cranky and worried about her cats along with other things that were going wrong. A lot of the initial comments in the thread are actually about the cats and the feasibility of using Moveable Type to set up a blog. I was surprised later when I saw someone classify her as being “unhappy” and her post was a “rant” against the PRO program.
Of course, some people took the chance to bash RWA and the PRO program, usually under the umbrella of anonimity. I’m not at all surprised by that because there’s always someone who’s ready to jump on the bandwagon to take a swing at the least little opportunity. I ignore them as much as I can because I don’t think we’re ever going to change their mind. Their loss.
What did bother me was the comments I saw from some people who seemed incensed that an editor might not want to see that they’d achieved PRO status on a query letter because THEY HAD BEEN TOLD BY SOMEONE that they should do so. When a comment starts, “Well, excuse me for just doing what I was told to do by my chapter,” I want to hit my head against the desk. There are a lot of people who grab on to a piece of advice for a specific situation (or agent or editor) and then apply it unilaterally across the board without stopping to think or check that it might be different. As ALG says in her next post:
“Oh, also — re: the PRO pin. Did y’all miss the fact that I am an editor, not a writer? As I said in the post, the PRO pin doesn’t matter to me. Whether or not it is helpful and/or encouraging for the members of RWA is not what I am concerned with when I am reading your cover letter. It should not be in your cover letter. It is akin to telling me about all the times you have come in fourth place in contests or calling yourself “prepublished”. It is unprofessional. Other editors may have different opinions. How many times do I have to say that your mileage may vary? Sheesh.”
I haven’t seen that quoted anywhere else, but she makes the point that it’s slightly different for each agent or editor, a fact I think sometimes get lost in the shuffle. And no, I’m not a PRO at the moment (all of my rejections when I rejoined last year were too old to qualify), but once I get something I feel is ready to see an editor’s desk, I’m joining for all the perks.
Hi, Caro, thanks for stopping by! Oh, believe me, I didn’t take ALG’s post for a negative rant against PRO. 🙂 I’m sure I’ve been ignorant enough in the past to include that in a query (though I may have edited it out for space).
Man, writing a query letter isn’t for wimps, is it? 🙂 I’m never sure whether to say I have degrees in English, for instance, or whether anyone cares. I remember when you were supposed to say you were a member of a critique group so they knew you were serious and had other eyes reading your work. LOL! That was a few years ago and I haven’t seen that advice anywhere recently.
No, I’m never surprised about the RWA bashers either, but I still get irritated. It’s that glass house thing that bugs me, I’m sure. 🙂