What is the future of the Crime Writers’ Association?

The CWA (crime writers’ association) is open for consultation about its future, according to an article in its own magazine, Red Herrings (available only to members!). The organisation has put the text of this article up at its Facebook page, for anyone to read. The CWA is mainly known to the reading public for its various Dagger awards, which are announced at different times over a year in various PR-style ways.

As a keen reader of crime fiction, I was pleased to see this initiative, as it is pretty expensive to join the CWA for a reader given that there are very few benefits, if any, associated with membership, which is geared up for authors to promote their books and receive tax advice, as well as to socialise.

However, since the CWA article was posted at Facebook, only two people have commented – me and another person – and neither of us has received the courtesy of a response (I also emailed my comment, as suggested in the article). I do hope that the CWA is serious in its intent to change – some of the reasons for my hope are outlined in the response I sent them, which I am copying here:

I’m glad the CWA is open for feedback. I am not a writer but a reader and reviewer of crime fiction. I read most of the books eligible for the International Dagger award each year as well as many other crime novels. I have not joined the CWA to date because membership is expensive and the benefits not significant (to a reader). I would certainly join the CWA if you had a special “readers’ ” membership tailored to us, which could include online discussions, book promotions, reading events and so on. I think the CWA would benefit from this input, there is a lot of discussion going on all over the internet about crime fiction, either via sites like Shots, Euro Crime et al, or blogs, or smaller forums, and you would do well as an organisation to tap into that better than you do now. Authors tend in the main to be interested only in promoting themselves and their books, whereas readers are broader and can bring intelligent debate and analysis. CWA could be a hub for all that.

If you like crime fiction, and think that the CWA could offer something more than it does at present that you’d find useful, please do reply to them, either at their Facebook post or via email to info@thecwa.co.uk for those allergic to Facebook. I do hope that comments and feedback will be answered at some point, as I think the CWA is very well placed to be a hub for the crime fiction community, so long as “community” involves readers as well as authors.

UPDATE 6 October: I’ve just received a response from the CWA. Here it is (!):
Hi Maxine
Many thanks for taking the time to write back. At the moment the CWA is only open to published writers, so readers can’t join. Our proposal is to set up a readers membership as you suggest, which would be free, and draw together online content as you say. We hope to launch this over the next few months.
Best wishes
Claire (Director)
[Note, I have been asked to join previously by other members of the CWA (at least two of them from memory), even though they know I’m a reader not an author. Confused? I am.]