Who Is Eligible?
We know that professional freelance writers make a living through a wide variety of work but not all of that work qualifies for ASJA membership. ASJA membership requires evidence of a sustained professional career--that you have written, on a freelance basis, full-length bylined articles in major publications over a substantial period of time, or have had nonfiction books published by established publishers, or other equivalent freelance activity as described below. If you're a professional and can prove it, you are eligible for membership.
Many successful applicants submit a mix of credits, such as a book, a book chapter, and several online and print articles. Qualified materials must be written in English.
Articles (Print, Web, or Both)
Qualifying standard: The Committee looks for a minimum of six substantial by-lined articles written on a freelance basis. If you submit shorter articles (less than 1000 words or so), you should submit a greater number. Also, the Membership Committee looks for credits from a variety of markets, rather than all from the same publication.
Credits should be mostly from major print or online markets. If you are submitting material from a market with which the Membership Committee may not be familiar, please give a brief description, including publisher or owner, circulation or readership, payment structure, and content.
If you have any questions about whether a market will qualify, we encourage you to ask. Because major markets may occasionally hold pieces for future publication, the committee will consider, in lieu of some clips, letters of acceptance for articles that are still in "inventory."
Qualifying standard: Nonfiction book authors qualify with two or more traditionally published nonfiction books, or one book with a second under contract. (Book chapters are considered roughly equivalent to long articles.) Ghostwriting and collaborative work qualify, if evidence (such as a contract) is submitted to to support the applicant's role as writer of the work.
If the publisher of your book is a small press or not widely known, please include information such as the kind of books they publish, the number of titles published each year, and their website or contact information.
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.
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.
Qualification Afforded to Staff Work
In general, work created while on staff is not considered qualifying. However, a successful 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.
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 written while on staff as part of employment (except as detailed above)
- work from non-paying markets, including self-published blogs
- non-bylined articles
- 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).