Friday, April 21, 2006
PRO-fessional What, Exactly?
There’s been quite a buzz the last few weeks kicked up by a blog post by an outspoken editor. Basically, she chastized the PRO community for waving their pins around like it was supposed to mean something to her. Of course, this sent the PRO loops into a flurry of activity and discussion and even ended up on Ms. Snark’s blog, where she agreed that the designation meant very little to her or anyone else. This opened the floodgates for everyone and anyone to comment on the program.
As a PRO member, I guess I’ve gotten my feelings hurt a little bit by all this. I understand both sides of the story, but it seems like people have gotten unnecessarily ugly about the whole thing. Comments have ranged from the polite – “I think it’s okay to include that someone is a PRO member as long as they aren’t expecting something because of it” to wicked generalizations about how the PRO community, to paraphrase, is a bunch of whiny babies that insisted RWA acknowledge them for their struggles (sob!). Big whoop, they argue – anyone can write a bunch of crap and get rejected just so they can get a pin. Doesn’t strike me as having the same collectible qualities as the kind they trade at DisneyWorld.
There are probably people out there who did throw something together just to get the pin. There are also probably people who think that their PRO designation somehow gets them past the velvet rope into the hip Publishing Club. But I do think these people are in the minority. I believe the majority of PRO members are hardworking writers aspiring to one day publish a book. Acknowledging the accomplishment of completing that first book and the subsequent rejection is a right of passage in this business. Not something to be sneered at or fawned over. Just a milestone to acknowledge.
To me, it means that I’ve had the follow through to complete a book and submit it to an RWA recognized publisher for consideration. That doesn’t mean that my story was in the least bit worthy of publishing. It doesn’t mean that I know everything about the business and people should stand up and take notice. But it does mean that I’m on the right track. I’m finishing books and submitting them – it is harder than it seems. Just look at how many members of RWA are not PRO members – it isn’t as easy as some portray it to be. Am I after a pat on the back? Not really, although it wouldn’t hurt. This business seems more willing to hand out a kick in the teeth.
I guess it all comes down to the attitude. I’m glad I got my PRO pin and I’m grateful for the RWA sponsored resources available to me as a PRO member. If I include it on a query letter, it’s more for lack of other things to list on there – like published books or my twenty years of experience in forensics. It isn’t because I expect preferential treatment. Honestly, I’d be shocked if it earned me anything other than – “Ok, she’s finished at least one book.” I’d really rather they flip the page and get to my writing. That, more than any label will get me where I need to be. I just would hate to think that there are editors out there that balk at the mere mention of it.
What does PRO status mean to you? What’s your take on the controversy? Do you think RWA could or should make changes to the program to improve its reputation in the publishing community?
Posted by Andrea Laurence AKA Smarty Pants at 4/21/2006 12:04:00 AM