As I was asked by Michelle Willingham.
The RNA stands for the Romantic Novelists Association and it is the equivalent of the US's RWA. However, founded in 1960, the RNA is the grandmother of them all. The founders read like a who's who of Romantic fiction of the time -- from Barbara Cartland to Alex Stuart to Elizabeth Goudge. Some founding members such as Anne Weale are still actively writing.
Its main focus has been to promote and foster good professional writing in the field of commerical women's ficition. Its main emphasis has always been on the published novelist but the RNA does run an excellent scheme for the unpubbed in women's commericial fiction -- the New Writer's Scheme. Every probationary member is required to submit a book length typescript for evaluation. The script is read by a full member of the RNA, commented on, and if it is exceptional, it is sent for a second read and the RNA tries to help the writer find an editor or an agent. Sometimes with the revisions suggested by the RNA, the writer is able to improve the script enough and get it published on her own. (Although we do have a few male writers, most are female.) All manuscripts which have been through the scheme and are accepted for publication within the next year,are eligible for the New Writer's Award, Over the years, many successful authors have come through the scheme. Katie Fforde and Christina Jones spring to mind and who knows what the most recent crop will accomplish. It is highly respected in the industry among agents and editors alike. The number of New Writers is capped at 200. A figure that was reached very early this year.
What does it offer the published writer?
Through its meetings and its e-loop ROMNA , the RNA provides support for many UK writers. The market for novels in the UK is slightly different from the US and what the publishers are looking for can be different as well. It is a wonderfully supportive network. Many of its social meetings (ie the summer and winter parties) are used by agents and publishers to network. More can sometimes be learned in the loos at a meeting than one could learn from other sources. I know a number of writers who found their agent through contacts with the RNA.
I know that I first learned about M&B Historicals desire to expand to other time periods from reading a report of a RNA meeting where a M&B editor spoke. The reason I sold my first book was that Kate Allan overheard someone in the loo speaking about how they had sold to DC Thomson and suggested -- I give it a go.Kate and I were able to use the knowledge we gleaned about Hale both from the RNA magazine and from the RNA conference last year to make a few changes to The Lady Soldier and in particular -- the synopsis.
One other differeence is its conferences are much smaller and therefore much less formal than the RWA. There are no editor or agent appointments but it is possible to speak to editors and agents directly if they are there. They do welcome vistiors from overseas, and so it can be a way for US writers to travel to the UK for business purposes.
I am a huge supporter of the RNA and am pleased that the Association has decided to raise its profile, partly throug hthe help of its sponsor for the Major Award --Foster Grant. If anyone is reading this and is not a member of the RNA and lives in the UK and would like to become a reader, the RNA website has an application form for Readers. Readers will be required to read five books in six weeks and comment on them. They should be familiar with women's commerical fiction and in particular romance.