Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
|Purpose||SFWA informs, supports, promotes, defends and advocates for its members.|
|Approx. 1,800 members|
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, or SFWA (// or //) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization of professional science fiction and fantasy writers in the United States. It was founded in 1965 by Damon Knight under the name Science Fiction Writers of America, Inc. The president of SFWA as of 2015 is Cat Rambo.
SFWA activities include informing science fiction and fantasy writers on professional matters, protecting their interests, and helping them deal effectively with agents, editors, anthologists, and producers in print and non-print media; encouraging public interest in and appreciation for science fiction and fantasy literature; sponsoring, editing, and disseminating writings, papers, books, pamphlets, and other publications which exemplify science fiction and fantasy literature of high quality; conducting conferences, public discussion groups, forums, lectures, and seminar programs; and furnishing services connected with this stated purpose.
Science Fiction Writers of America, Inc. was founded in 1965 by a group of writers associated with the Milford Conference and headed by Damon Knight. According to Todd McCaffrey, the organization immediately "acquired great status in its efforts to help J.R.R. Tolkien get fair recompense in America for pirated sales of The Lord of the Rings." Later, the name of the organization was changed to Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, although the acronym SFWA was retained.
In 1982, Lisa Tuttle withdrew her short story "The Bone Flute" from the final Nebula ballot, to protest what she saw as excessive campaigning for awards and that voters did not receive copies of nominated works. Her withdrawal was sent after voting had been completed. When informed she had won, she contacted SFWA and told them she refused to accept it. She was told that her reasons for doing so would be announced. Her publisher accepted the award in her place, apparently with no knowledge of her withdrawal, and there was no mention of her objection.
In September 2009, SFWA joined the Open Book Alliance to oppose the Google Book Settlement. As a party to the class action suit, SFWA had recently explained its reservations about the settlement and declared its intention to file an objection.
In 2013, the SFWA Bulletin was the subject of a controversy about sexism. This led to a brief hiatus, followed by a reboot of the magazine in a modern, updated format.
In 2014, the original Massachusetts corporation was dissolved and SFWA reincorporated as a California nonprofit 501(c)3 organization with new bylaws.
SFWA participates in various trade shows and publishing industry events in the United States and abroad, including BookExpo America, the American Library Association Midwinter Conference, the USA Science & Engineering Festival, and several major (and minor) science fiction, fantasy and media conventions. SFWA holds a semi-annual business meeting at the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) when it's held in North America, and at the North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) otherwise.
SFWA also hosts its own events, which include:
- Nebula Awards Weekend: Nebula Awards Weekend is an annual conference during which a banquet is held and Nebula Award winners are announced and presented. Other Nebula Awards Weekend events include a semi-annual SFWA business meeting and a mass autographing session for member authors, which is open to the public. Nebula Awards Weekend is held in a different location every two years.
- The SFWA Reception in New York: SFWA hosts an annual reception in New York to provide SFWA members the opportunity to meet and socialize with editors, agents, publicists, art directors and other publishing industry professionals. Over the years, the reception has gone by several names, including Authors and Editors, Mill and Swill, and the NY Reception.
- The SFWA Reading Series: A series of free quarterly events during which SFWA authors read or discuss their fiction with members of local communities. Currently held in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR, but the program may soon expand to other areas.
Advocacy and support
As an organization, SFWA acts as an advocate to effect important changes within the publishing industry, especially among publishers of science fiction and fantasy, by promoting author-friendly copyright legislation, equitable treatment of authors, and fair contract terms.
SFWA sponsors Writer Beware, whose mission is to track, expose, and raise awareness of the prevalence of fraud and other questionable activities in and around the publishing industry. Writer Beware consists of the Writer Beware website, which provides the latest information on literary schemes, scams, and pitfalls; the Writer Beware blog, which provides up-to-the-minute information on specific scams and schemes, along with advice for writers and industry news and commentary; and the Writer Beware Facebook page, which posts links to articles, news items, and warnings of interest to writers, and provides a forum for discussion. Writer Beware receives additional support from the Mystery Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association.
Writer Beware maintains an extensive database of complaints on questionable literary agents, publishers, independent editors, writers’ services, contests, publicity services, and others, and offers a free research and information service for writers. Writer Beware staff assist law enforcement agencies with investigations of literary fraud, and have been instrumental in the convictions of several literary scammers.
Emergency Medical Fund
SFWA's Emergency Medical Fund was established to assist eligible member writers who have unexpected medical expenses.
Headed by longtime SFWA member Bud Webster, the Estates Project maintains a list of the estates of deceased SFWA member writers and coordinates with living member writers to make arrangements for their future estates. The Estates Project also accumulates information about authors' archives for member writers, living or dead.29.
- Nebula Awards: Since 1965, SFWA Active and Lifetime Active members select by vote the Nebula Awards for best short story, novelette, novella, and novel published during the previous year, where the four categories are defined by numbers of words.
- Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award: Since 1975, the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award has been awarded for lifetime achievement in science fiction or fantasy.
- Bradbury Award: Since 1992, the Bradbury Award has been selected by a vote and presented for best dramatic presentation. Named in honor of Ray Bradbury.
- Author Emeritus: Since 1995, the Author Emeritus title has been awarded to a senior writer whose major impact was long ago or overlooked.
- Andre Norton Award: Since 2005, the Andre Norton Award has been selected by a vote and presented for best young adult novel. Named in honor of Andre Norton.
- Kevin O'Donnell, Jr. Award for service to SFWA: Since 2009, presented to recognize service to the organization.
- Solstice Award: Since 2009, SFWA has presented the Solstice Award, which recognizes lifetime contributions to the science fiction and fantasy field. The award can be given to up to three people, but is usually given to one live person and one deceased person.
The SFWA Bulletin
The SFWA Bulletin is a quarterly magazine that SFWA members receive as part of their membership, but it is also available (by subscription) to non-members. The Bulletin carries nonfiction articles of general interest to writers, especially science fiction and fantasy writers. It accepts submissions, for which the pay rate is 8 cents a word. The current Bulletin editor is Neil Clarke.
A special issue (no. 203) published in March 2014 was edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Jaym Gates and "was specially created to be used as an outreach tool for conventions and other events." The issue's contents and cover were welcomed by some as an antidote to the perceived sexism of past issues though Sue Granquist felt that something looked "suspiciously like a woman in a burka".
In 2013, a controversy about sexism in the Bulletin led to the resignation of editor Jean Rabe on June 5, 2013. More than 50 authors wrote blog posts in objection to comments by longtime contributors Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg that included references to "lady editors" and "lady writers" who were "beauty pageant beautiful" or a "knock out", an article by C. J. Henderson praising Barbie for maintaining "quiet dignity the way a woman should", and the "exploitative" cover image of no. 200 of the Bulletin depicting a woman in a chain-mail bikini. Several authors used the occasion to speak out against sexism in science fiction genre circles more broadly. The controversy continued through Bulletin no. 202, which contained another column by Resnick and Malzberg, discussing the response to their earlier column. Their column framed that response as censorship, referring to their critics as "liberal fascists". In February 2014 a proposal to establish an advisory board to oversee content was met by a petition circulated by editor and critic Dave Truesdale supporting freedom of speech in the Bulletin.
As a result of the controversy, SFWA president John Scalzi apologized to members, and the Bulletin was put on hiatus for six months. It reappeared with the Winter 2014 Special Issue, #203.
The Forum is a quarterly publication that functions as SFWA's internal newsletter for members. As such, it is not available to non-members.
The SFWA Blog
SFWA also publishes short essays and other content relevant to writers on the SFWA Blog.
Most members live in the United States. Authors, regardless of nationality or residence, must be professionally published in a qualifying market as listed by SFWA in order to become SFWA members. At present, all listed qualifying markets publish only in the English language.
- Active: for eligible professionally published authors in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, or horror; the minimum qualification is the sale of one novel or dramatic script, or three short stories, to venues with certain minimum circulations or pay rates. Active members may attend business meetings, vote in elections, receive access to private discussion forums, gain entry into SFWA exclusive events and suites at conventions, receive SFWA publications, and may recommend, nominate, and vote on works for the Nebula Awards.
- Associate: for writers of science fiction or fantasy who have not yet qualified for Active membership, but who have made a qualifying sale. Associate members receive SFWA publications and access to private discussion forums, as well as entry into SFWA suites at conventions, and they may recommend and nominate works for the Nebula Awards but cannot vote.
- Affiliate: for industry professionals in science fiction or fantasy (such as academics, editors, agents, artists, graphic novelists, reviewers, etc.) who are not eligible to become an Active or Associate member.
- Institutional: for organizations which have a legitimate interest in science fiction and fantasy (such as high schools, colleges, universities, libraries, and similar institutions, as well as broadcasting organizations, film producers, futurology groups and similar organizations).
- Estate: for the legal representatives of the estates of deceased authors who were Active members or who were qualified to be an Active member at any time during their writing career.
- Life: for Active, Associate, or Affiliate members in good standing who paid lifetime dues.
- Senior: for Active members who have maintained continuous membership for thirty(30) years or more.
- Family: for two or more Active, Associate, or Affiliate members living at the same address.
Board and administrative staff
- SFWA Board members
As of July 2015, the board consists of the current president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and five directors at large.
- Administrative staff
- Kate Baker (operations manager)
- Steven H Silver (event manager)
- Derek Kunsken (volunteer coordinator)
- Cynthia Felice (ombudsman)
- "History and Statistics". SFWA (sfwa.org). March 26, 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- "Who We Are". SFWA. Retrieved 2014-08-08.
- Capobianco, Michael (Winter 2014). "Copyright Battles and SFWA". The SFWA Bulletin. 26 (4): 40.
- Fiscus, Jim (Winter 2014). "SFWA Standards for Pay". The SFWA Bulletin. 26 (4): 43.
- McCaffrey, Todd (1999). Dragonholder: The Life and Dreams (so far) of Anne McCaffrey. New York: Ballantine. p. 57.
Todd McCaffrey is the son of Anne McCaffrey, who was SFWA Secretary-Treasurer 1968–1970, responsible for production and distribution of the monthly SFWA Bulletin and SFWA Forum.
- "Nebula Awards". Ansible. June 1982. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "Open Book Alliance". Open Book Alliance. September 2, 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- "SFWA statement on proposed Google book settlement". SFWA. August 8, 2009. Retrieved 2015-07-16.
- Flood, Alison (June 12, 2013). "Science fiction authors attack sexism amid row over SFWA magazine". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- Silver, Steven H (Winter 2014). "SFWA Annual Events". The SFWA Bulletin. 26 (4): 59.
- Silver, Steven H (Winter 2014). "The NY Reception". The SFWA Bulletin. 26 (4): 60.
- "About Writer Beware". SFWA. 1998–2013. Retrieved 2014-11-02. "Except for graphics, and where specifically indicated, all Writer Beware® contents copyright © 1998-2013 Victoria Strauss."
- Capobianco, Michael (Winter 2014). "Copyright Battles and SFWA". The SFWA Bulletin. 26 (4): 40.
- Clough, Brenda W. (Winter 2014). "The Estates Project". The SFWA Bulletin. 26 (4): 13.
- "About the SFWA Grand Master Award". The Locus Index to SF Awards. Locus Publications (locusmag.com). Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- "SFWA Grand Master Award Winners By Year". The Locus Index to SF Awards. Locus. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- "About the Other SFWA Awards". The Locus Index to SF Awards. Locus. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- Gates, Jaym (February 27, 2014). "SFWA Bulletin Returns". SFWA. Retrieved 2014-03-29.
- Sanford, Jason (March 26, 2014). "The new SFWA Bulletin is blowing my mind". Jason Sanford (jasonsanford.com). Retrieved 2015-07-16.
- O'Neill, John (March 3, 2014). "The Return of The SFWA Bulletin". Black Gate: Adventures in Fantasy Literature (blackgate.com). Retrieved 2015-07-16. Comment by Sue Granquist (March 5, 2014): "That “fantastic piece of cover art” looks suspiciously like a woman in a burka. ‘Nuff said.."
- Anders, Charlie Jane (June 6, 2013). "The editor of SFWA's bulletin resigns over sexist articles". io9. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- Griner, David (June 4, 2013). "Will the Fantasy Genre Ever Grow Up and Ditch the Chainmail Bikini? Industry bulletin's cover sets off firestorm". Adweek. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- Romano, Aja (June 7, 2013). "SFWA sexism rocks the science-fiction blogosphere". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2015-07-16. Last updated February 25, 2014.
- Resnick, Mike; Malzberg, Barry N. (Summer 2013). "Talk Radio Redux". The SFWA Bulletin. 47 (3): 45–50. Archive copy retrieved 2015-07-16.
- Romano, Aja (10 February 2014). "Controversial email inflames sexism debate in sci-fi community". Retrieved 21 September 2016.
- Scalzi, John (June 2, 2013). "Presidential Statement on the SFWA Bulletin". SFWA. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "Plan for Moving Ahead with the Bulletin". SFWA. June 13, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "Membership Requirements". SFWA. Retrieved 2014-08-08. Effective with Bylaws May 15, 2014. Updated March 1, 2015. Previous membership requirements available.