In part one of this series, I talked about the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writes of America (SFWA) prior to the move to bring in the independent writers. This section will discuss the decision and the process, as well as some of the reactions. My sources in putting all of this together are my own faulty memory, my personal notes, and the Internet. The discussion of the indie admission took place in a number of venues, including e-mails, blog articles and comments, social media, and the SFWA discussion forums. In drawing on the latter, I have tried to ensure that I did not violate their confidentiality rules, quoting only with permission.
Nomenclature has varied, but when I refer to independently published writers, that is the same group that others have used self-published, self-pubbed, indie, and other terms to describe. Self-publishing has been conflated with vanity publishing in the past; I believe them two distinct things.
Beginning to Recognize Independently Published Works
As far as I can tell, the question of whether people should be able to qualify for membership with independently published sales was first brought to the board by Vice President Mary Robinette Kowal in 2009. Discussion focused on a couple of points: how to translate the SFWA requirements for professional writers into ones using self-published material and whether or not the gatekeeping done by traditional publishing represented a quality bar. I’m framing that last badly, primarily because I don’t agree with it, but I can understand why, depending on their relationship with traditional publishing, someone might be invested in that view. That discussion moved on, but the question of indies had been raised and would continue to be something discussed at board and business meetings, with increasing support for allowing indies in on the part of some Board members.