SFWA Platform – Overseas Regional Director

I have been asked to post my SFWA platform publicly, for general interest. If you are a member and haven’t been over to the forums for some time, I do recommend you pop by as there has been a lot of crunchy debate and discussion about the direction of the organisation, and all kinds of issues of relevance to today’s (and tomorrow’s) professional SF writers.

For those who aren’t aware, the Science Fiction Writers of America is an organisation which supports and promotes professional SF/F writers (as defined by specific eligibility guidelines) and provides various resources including advocacy in the case of grievances against publishers, an emergency medical fund, the Writer Beware blog, and general community. The discussion forums (in which most of the election discussion takes place) are closed to members, though other resources such as Writer Beware are pen to all.

The role I’m applying for would be to stand as Board representative to the members of SFWA who live outside North America. Yes, all of them! The position is currently held by the awesome Sean Williams, who is stepping down at this election and has been very supportive of me volunteering to follow in his footsteps. I’m currently the only person running for this particular position.

If you are an active member, then as Jim C Hines said recently, you don’t have to vote for me but please vote!

(a couple of sentences have been redacted or amended because they refer to specific SFWA information/forum discussion that I’m not sure is public knowledge yet – the full version can be read in the forums)

Dear SFWA members

I would like to run for the position of Overseas Regional Director.

I have only just joined the SFWA, but I believe strongly in volunteering to give my energy and serve the communities that I join. It’s a while since I’ve had the personal resources to do so, but my kids are getting older and it feels like time to throw myself back into the deep end!

As an Australian writer (living in Tasmania) who has been professionally published for over a decade, I have been actively been involved in the SF community at a national level through publishing, writing, event management, reviewing, podcasting and online projects such as the Snapshot.

I am learning very quickly that SFWA has a great deal more to offer professional writers outside America than those writers tend to believe (I suspect that many also feel that they would not be welcome, which is a shame), and I also think that SFWA as an organisation could benefit greatly from a wider global perspective.

This is a major transition period for our industry, with many aspects of publishing disappearing from under our feet, and others evolving so fast that it is hard to predict what we will be left with.

One change that has already happened, and quite dramatically over the last few years, is the way that international publishing borders have become less and less relevant. I have many colleagues who do not live in the US, but sell their work there, either digitally or in print. While their needs are often a little different to those of the resident US SF & Fantasy writers, I don’t believe they are as different as they were five or ten years ago.

Self publishing and e-publishing are also important issues, and I know that many authors outside the US find that their publishers are struggling with how to use or promote books in these formats, which makes the idea of doing it yourself not only appealing, but essential. (Though it has to be said there are also some savvy digital publishers springing up which are based outside the US, which might be valuable for US-based authors to know about)

It seems to me that if SFWA wishes to expand its membership, and increase its relevancy in the industry, then it’s not just about revising current membership restrictions, but reaching out to the many writers who are already professionally qualified under the current rules, and assume that SFWA has little to offer them or vice versa.

With email, the web, and various social media platforms (not to mention the ease of distribution that comes from e-publishing) there is no reason for professional writers outside the US to feel like they are missing out on opportunities for networking and professional development, and yet many still feel like outsiders. I think SFWA can help with this, and benefit from the resources that would come from a more diverse membership.

I would very much like to be a voice for overseas members on the Board, to promote the value of SFWA to new and potential members from the constituency of ‘everywhere else,’ and to help the SFWA move towards being able to offer greater value to all members by embracing a global perspective.

My administrative credentials include having served on a variety of committees including university societies, the board of a museum, a small press co-op and a school association, as well as experience chairing and convening a national SF convention. My background is in academia (I have a PhD in Classics) but I now run my own small business from home, which brings that perspective and organisational skills to the table.

I have had six novels professionally published (one for children) and a collection, and am actively involved in the global ‘how publishing is changing around us’ conversation through my blog, podcasts and other media, which I also use to promote the works of fellow writers. Being part of SFWA seems like an opportunity to continue doing this, to a wider audience.

I am probably best known (in some circles) for the Galactic Suburbia podcast, with Alisa Krasnostein (publisher) and Alex Pierce (critic) which provides an Australian female perspective on the SF community, media and publishing. This has gathered an international audience over the last couple of years, and has made me realise how important it is to use the new media to communicate with each other as we all try to survive the current changes in the publishing industry. I’m also affiliated with Twelfth Planet Press, who have published several of my works, and whom I sometimes work with as an editor.

I know that I’m unknown to many of you, but I appreciate the support of those members who have encouraged me to take this step. I’ll be keeping an eye on the Questions for Candidates post if you have any specific questions for me, and will certainly work on addressing the open questions already there over the next few days.

Tansy Rayner Roberts
February 2013

One reply

  1. Katharine says:

    Best of luck 🙂

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