This is what we suggest when we talk to prospective members of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network). Joining isn’t enough—ever. You must also get involved.
Sure the prestige of belonging can be important in some instances. For example, you can put the organization logo on your website. You can tell publishers that you belong to this and that organization, group and club so that he knows you are serious about your publishing project. It might look good on your résumé.
But, presumably, as an author, the main reason you joined the organization or group is to learn, to meet other authors and professionals within the publishing industry, to become more educated and informed about publishing and book promotion, to collect resources you can use to further your success within the industry and to receive some guidance by people you trust.
Why, then, do so many of you plunk down the money to join and then neglect to attend meetings, rarely read the newsletters, avoid signing up for the online discussion group, never get around to partaking of other benefits—in fact, have lost sight of even what they are?
Here’s my advice: Find the groups or organizations with members you’d like to know and/or that you can learn from. Choose groups or organizations with benefits that match your particular needs at the moment. Join and then participate. This is the only way the experience will be of benefit.