FAQ

If you have a question that is not answered here, feel free to contact us

How do you define a book?

A book is a publication of words, usually 35,000 words or longer. Some books, such as fitness guides, pop psychology, and children's books may be shorter. If you are the author of a shorter book, the Membership Committee suggests you include a word count with your application. The committee may consider a shorter book in combination with article credits.

In general, self-published books are not accepted as qualifying material for ASJA membership. An exception may be made on rare occasion for self-published books with substantial sales, reviews in well-known journals, or inclusion in a major book club. Proof of sales, inclusion in book clubs, or published reviews must be submitted along with a copy of the book. Without such documentation, self-published books will not be reviewed by the Membership Committee.

Does a co-authored or ghostwritten book qualify toward ASJA membership?

It depends. For some books co-authored by a writer and an expert, the writer writes the entire book. In other cases, both authors share the writing. For collaborative or ghostwritten projects, the Membership Committee may ask for clarification from the applicant or possibly contact the book's editor to verify the contribution of the applicant.

How do you define an article?

ASJA defines "substantial" pieces as 1000 to 1200 words. Applicants can submit more, shorter clips to qualify, but the Membership Committee wants to see at least some longer pieces from national or well-recognized regional or trade publications or major websites.

What if I am submitting shorter articles, say 300 or 400 words?

You should submit more articles so they add up to six articles of 1,000 to 1,200 words. However, the Membership committee expects to see at least one or two longer articles.

Can I submit articles from only one publication?

You should submit articles from two or more publications as supporting evidence that you are a professional freelance writer.

Is it OK to submit articles published in a "freebie" publication?

If you are applying for Associate membership, the answer is yes.

For Professional membership, it depends. The Membership Committee would like information about the publication. Some freebies are respected and publish good journalism. Others are merely throw-aways with puff pieces about their advertisers. If you are submitting articles from a freebie, please give us information about the publication, such as a copy of their writer's guidelines or their "about us" statement.

What is a "major trade publication"?

In general, this means trade publications with a wide circulation and trade publications that are often referred to or used as sources by editors and writers for the public. However, some trade publications are "controlled circulation" and are sent free to everyone who qualifies for a subscription. Other trade publications are highly respected but have a small circulation. Furthermore, some trade publications are highly respected but not widely quoted outside the industry.

The Membership Committee does not accept clips from publications where the writer is required to write about major advertisers. It also does not accept advertorials as clips. The committee is looking for trade publications that contain good journalism. Examples include Women's Wear Daily, Variety, and the New York Law Journal.

Because there are so many trade publications, many of them unfamiliar to the Membership Committee, we suggest you include information (circulation figures, audience, e.g.) about the publication with your clips.

What about old clips?

Some applicants to ASJA submit perfectly good but old qualifications -- two books published 20 years ago, for example. The Membership Committee asks that you submit some recent clips showing that you are back at work as a freelancer. The committee realizes that it may take a year or 18 months after you return to freelancing before you have new clips to add to the oldies.

What about Canadian clips?

The Membership Committee recognizes that writers try to sign a First North American Serial Rights agreement, indicating the American and Canadian market is one.

Our Canadian members have noted that Canada is a niche market, about the size of California or other regional or specialized markets, so the committee usually accepts as qualifications articles published in major Canadian publications, such as Chatelaine, National Post, and Toronto Globe and Mail. The committee would like to see, but does not require, clips from major US publications.

What about English-language clips from elsewhere?

The Membership Committee usually accepts as qualifications articles published in foreign English-language publications that are widely circulated in the US, such as the International Herald Tribune, The Economist, and The Financial Times. It does not accept as qualifications articles published in foreign English-language publications that are major in the country where they're published but not widely circulated in the United States.

What about online publications?

Online-only credits qualify as long as they were produced on a freelance basis and paid for by the market. Since online clips tend to be shorter than those for print publications, a larger number should be submitted.Unpaid content or that produced for pay-per-click models do not now qualify toward ASJA membership.

What about custom publications?

The Membership Committee does not accept as qualifications articles that must mention the advertiser or are part of magazines publicizing an institution or company. The committee tries to draw a line between publications such as "in-flights," which are published by airlines but have general informational content and publications that promote a company or institution. Smithsonian and AARP, for example, are accepted because they are general-interest magazines and widely available. Custom publications (sometimes called one-shots) from major publishers (for example Your Perfect Wedding, Your Perfect Kitchen Make-Over) are acceptable provided the assigning, writing, and editing are independent -- ie, the writer does independent research and is not required to mention advertisers) Advertising inserts (advertorials) are not acceptable as credits.

Must qualifying work be written in English?

Yes.

My articles are not by-lined. Can I qualify?

Yes, you can submit non bylined articles with proof of authorship, such as a contract or assignment letter/email. Those applying for Associate membership should provide the same proof of assignment.

I'm a staff writer, but I also freelance. Can I qualify for ASJA?

Staff-written work can be used to satisfy all five clips to qualify for an Associate membership.

A successful Professional membership application may include staff-written work if the following conditions apply: 

  1. Applicant has submitted a minimum of 3 substantial freelance credits (which could include long articles, editorials, paid blogging, or a book);
  2. Applicant held a staff job as a writer or reporter at an established media company (newspaper, magazine, website, etc.) and can provide at least three substantial bylined clips therefrom;
  3. Applicant's qualifying staff job terminated at least 6 months before date of application.

Does ASJA judge the quality of my writing samples?

The ASJA Membership Committee doesn't evaluate applicants' work. That's the job of an editor at a respected publication. The committee wants to see that you have published in several magazines, newspapers, or websites or have published books that meet the criteria described above.

What happens if I don't qualify?

If an application falls short of qualifying, we let you know why. The application remains accessible to you, and you're invited to add clips and credits at any time to submit it for reconsideration. There's never an additional charge. We don't want anyone to give up; it's often just a matter of adding a few more credits before a working freelance writer can qualify to join ASJA.

  • 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