Application FAQ

Application FAQ

Questions about the application or application process? Find your answers here.

General Membership Application FAQs

Can I start my application and finish it later?

Yes, but we strongly recommend that you read through all membership qualifications, this FAQ, and the full application before you begin. Then gather all of your supporting documents (links and pdfs), so that you can complete your application in one sitting.

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 three 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 from that media company;
  3. Applicant’s qualifying staff job terminated at least 6 months before date of application.

Must qualifying work be written in English?


Can I submit old clips or books?

Some applicants to ASJA submit perfectly good, but old, qualifications (two books published 20 years ago or magazine articles from 10 years ago, for example). In that case, the membership review committee asks that you submit some recent clips showing that you still working as a freelance writer.

Does ASJA judge the quality of my writing samples?

The membership review 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.

Can I email or snail mail my application or supporting documents?

No. The application process must be completed in full using our online forms. Supporting documents must be submitted as links or PDFs.

What payments are required in order to consider my application?

Before submitting your application, you will be required to submit a credit card payment of $310, which includes an application fee, an initiation fee, and the first year of dues. If you are not accepted for membership, you will receive reimbursement of $285 for the first year of dues and initiation fee. The application fee is nonrefundable. Because you have pre-paid the first year of dues, you will automatically become an ASJA member if you qualify, and your ASJA benefits begin immediately.

What happens if I don’t qualify for professional membership? 

If your application falls short of qualifying for professional membership, we will let you know why. In that case, you will be granted associate membership, and you can apply for professional membership after you’ve qualified. It’s often just a matter of adding a few more credits before a working freelance writer can qualify to join ASJA as a professional member.

What happens if I apply for associate membership, but I qualify for professional membership?

The application review committee will let you know and approve you as a professional member.

When will I hear back about my membership status

It can take up to six weeks to notify applicants of their membership status. See Apply for details about ASJA’s membership review process.

Published Clips FAQs (for application)

How does ASJA define a “clip”?

ASJA defines a “clip” as a published reported article, essay, blog post, infographic, etc. for a print publication or website. Applications must include at least one clip of 1000 words or more from national or well-recognized regional or trade publications or major websites. Applicants may also submit shorter clips to qualify.

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

The membership review committee expects to see at least one clip of 1000 words or more. If you are submitting shorter pieces as well, submit more articles so they add up to six articles of at least 1,000 to words total.

Can I submit clips from only one publication?

No. You must submit clips from two or more publications.

Is it OK to submit clips published in a “freebie” publication?

Clips published in free publications qualify for associate membership.

For professional membership, qualification depends. In that case, the membership review committee would like information about the publication. Some freebies (such as nationally known alt weeklies) are respected and publish good journalism. Others publish mostly puff pieces about their advertisers. If you are submitting clips 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 that 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 review committee does not accept clips from publications for which 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, some may be unfamiliar to the membership application review committee. We suggest you include information (circulation figures, audience, e.g.) about the publication with your clips.

My clips are not bylined. Can I qualify?

Yes, you can submit non-bylined clips with proof of authorship, such as a contract or assignment letter/email. 

What about clips from Canadian publications?

ASJA 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 membership review 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 review committee usually accepts as qualified articles published in foreign English-language publications that are widely circulated in print or online in the U.S., such as the Guardian, The Economist, and The Financial Times. It does not accept as qualifications articles published in foreign English-language publications that are not widely circulated in the United States.

What about online publications?

Online-only clips qualify as long as they were produced on a freelance basis and paid for by the market. If online clips are shorter than those for print publications, a larger number should be submitted.

Unpaid content or that produced for pay-per-click models do not qualify for ASJA membership.

What about custom publications?

The membership review 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 Gannett special publications for USAToday) are acceptable, provided the assigning, writing, and editing are not tied to advertising (i.e. the writer does independent research and is not required to mention advertisers). Advertising inserts (advertorials) are not acceptable as credits.

Book Credit FAQs (for application)

How does ASJA 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, please include a word count with your application. The committee may consider a shorter book in combination with article credits.

What kinds of books does ASJA consider for membership?

Book authors who are accepted into ASJA have published (or are under contract to publish) trade nonfiction books. These are published by the “Big Five” publishers (and their imprints) or an independent publisher (including university publishers).

We do not consider fiction or poetry for membership, though many of our members have written fiction and/or poetry, along with the nonfiction.

Are self-published books considered for membership?

In general, self-published books are not accepted as qualifying material for ASJA membership. An exception may be made on rare occasions when these books have substantial sales, reviews in well-known journals, or inclusion in a major book club.

Proof of sales, inclusion in prominent book clubs, or published reviews must be submitted along with a copy of the book. Without such documentation, self-published books will not be considered for qualification.

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 review committee may ask for clarification from the applicant or possibly contact the book’s editor to verify the contribution of the applicant.

Apply for associate or professional membership

A membership in ASJA grants you instant access to hundreds of generous and proven writing professionals.

Learn more

Membership Benefits

Join ASJA for access to a robust slate of professional development and client networking opportunities.

Learn more