Who Is Eligible?

Qualification Details

ASJA membership requires evidence of a sustained professional career as an independent nonfiction writer. If you're a professional and can prove it, you are eligible for membership.

What counts? Articles, books, ghostwriting, content for many kinds of clients, even staff work can count towards qualification. Many successful applicants submit a mix of credits, such as a book, a book chapter, and/or several articles or other pieces. (All materials must be in English to qualify.) As of June 2015, the Board of Directors has endorsed the following specific criteria for membership.

Articles

If you're primarily a writer of articles, you'll need at least six substantial pieces written on a freelance basis. If you submit shorter articles (fewer than 1,000 words or so), submit more articles. It's best if they are from variety of markets, rather than all from the same place.

A word about custom content. Custom, non-bylined content may be considered qualifying under these conditions:

  • you can submit verifiable evidence of authorship (e.g., a contract, with letter(s) of assignment if the topic(s) are not specified in the contract)
  • the work is for an organization of sufficient stature. These include, but are not limited to:
    • Content marketing agencies (e.g. MXM, Time Inc., Pace, Skyword)
    • Corporations (e.g. Walgreens, Ford, WalMart)
    • Nonprofits of significant size (e.g. ASPCA, YMCA of America, large hospitals).

Submit your largest markets. If you are submitting material from a market with which we may not be familiar, please give a brief description, including publisher or owner, circulation or readership, payment structure, and content.

Books

If you're a book author, you'll need at least one nonfiction book with a second under contract to qualify. Book chapters don't count here: they are considered roughly equivalent to long articles. Ghostwriting and collaborations do qualify, if evidence (such as a contract) is submitted to support your role as writer of the work.

In general, self-published books are not accepted as qualifying material towards ASJA membership. Exceptions may be made for self-published books with substantial sales (at least 5,000 copies), reviews in well-known journals, or inclusion in a major book club. Backup documentation will be required.

Staff Work

Staff-written work can be considered for up to half of the qualifying credentials. You must have at least 3 substantial freelance credits (which could include long articles, editorials, paid blogging, or a book) in addition.

If you're submitting staff credits, they must be from a staff job that ended at least six months ago at an established media company.

Other Qualifying Material

Nonfiction freelanced TV, film and radio scripts for major media outlets and other bylined material may also count toward ASJA membership qualifications.

What Kinds Of Work Do Not Count Toward ASJA Membership Qualifications?

The following types of writing do not count toward qualifications for ASJA membership:

  • fiction or poetry
  • work from non-paying markets, including self-published blogs
  • work compensated strictly on a "pay-per-click" basis
  • work performed for companies and organizations that pay minimal freelance rates (e.g. $0.01/per word or $30 for a blog post of 1000 words)
  • work from markets that direct writers to use their advertisers as sources
  • work from small regional publications or local websites
  • work from small special-interest publications
  • most self-published or subsidy-published books and materials (see caveat above)
  • PR, advertising, or other writings paid for, in whole or in part, by the subject(s) of the piece(s).
  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
    – Kenneth Tynan
  • A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self–addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
    – Ring Lardner
  • A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
    – Marguerite Yourcenar
  • All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
    – Somerset Maugham
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
    – Christopher Hampton
  • Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
    – Lawrence Kasdan
  • Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
    –Wilson Mizner
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
    – Flannery O'Connor
  • I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because I don't think it's finished yet.
    – Lawrence Welk
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
    – Douglas Adams
  • I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
    – Stephen Wright
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
    – Robert Benchley
  • It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.
    – Andrew Jackson
  • Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
    – Richard Curtis
  • No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self–deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
    – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
    –Somerset Maugham
  • Writing a novel is like paddling from Boston to London in a bathtub. Sometimes the damn tub sinks. It's a wonder that most of them don't.
    – Stephen King
  • Writing a novel is like spelunking. You kind of create the right path for yourself. But, boy, are there so many points at which you think, absolutely, I'm going down the wrong hole here.
    – Chang–rae Lee
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
    –Samuel Johnson