Thursday, October 7, 2010

Be a Joiner! Literary Organizations

As you are writing your résumé and trying to beef up your relevant experience, literary organizations are a perfect way to do that with relative ease. There are a lot of groups that can show your seriousness about working in the book industry, as well as helping you network. Don't just join everything - that shows a lack of focus and desperation. But pick a few that truly interest you.

I've mentioned the Women's National Book Association several times as it's a great organization. There are chapters all over the country - Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C. - and also men can join. Once you join, you have access to the database of members all over the country, which you can use for networking, as well as joining the group on LinkedIn and networking at the meetings if you live near a chapter.

I've been a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America since my senior year in college, which has 65 chapters. More than once, that single line at the bottom of my résumé has been a topic of conversation in an interview, and it directly led to one job, which my mother heard about at a JASNA meeting. There are other national and international organizations dedicated to classic authors such as Mark Twain and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The PEN American Center is a perfect group to join if you are interested in international literature, and particularly they often fight for authors who are being repressed. Sisters in Crime is for women interested in mysteries/thrillers. The Association of Booksellers for Children is for all people involved in selling books to children. The Children's Book Council is an organization promoting literacy in children, as are First Book and Reading is Fundamental.

There are a ton of groups for writers but remember, saying you want to be an author is a strike against you when trying to get a job in publishing. So think twice about putting them on your résumé. If you've been involved in one for many years and/or are an officer, you should certainly list it, but not more than one. You'll be giving the wrong message.

Joining these groups can help your résumé look more literary, can help with networking, and is a way to demonstrate your commitment to the book industry.


tediousandbrief said...

Very interesting post!

For some reason I'm surprised to hear there is a Jane Austen Society...but given the love her writing has (as evident by the multiple continuations of her stories and how a lot of bloggers seem to love her), I shouldn't have been surprised.

If I can ask a question...as I've never actually finished reading a Jane Austen novel, which one would you suggest trying to read?

(I made it 1/2 through Emma and 1/2 through Northanger Abbey before putting them down one day for some reason and wasn't able to get back into them from where I was in the story.)

Carin Siegfried said...

Pride & Prejudice really is the best. Northanger Abbey is a farce of gothic lit, so it's not representative of her other novels, and not the best place to start. In Emma she purposefull set out to write book with an unlikable protagonist, so that's not necessarily a best 1st on either. Sense & Sensibility is another good one. Try P&P and S&S.