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.
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.
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-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).