The once exclusive Authors Guild has agreed to accept as members authors whose books are published by other than the traditional method.
Guild spokesman Terrence King confirmed Friday the organization's members voted at its annual meeting in March to open its membership to self-published authors.
"All of the rules aren't in place yet, but self-published authors who earn at least $500 in writing income in the 18 months prior to applying do qualify for associate membership," King said in a statement. He explained that associate members would receive all the benefits of regular members, except for voting in Guild elections.
King added, "Self-published authors will also be able to qualify for regular membership, but our board has to establish the income threshold for that category."
Previously only authors with traditional publishing contracts were eligible.
Requirements included that a contract with an American book publisher include a "significant" cash advance, confer copyright ownsership to the author and provide for a mechanism by which royalties are calculated and paid.
As many companies that offer self-publishing services meet the copyright and royalty distribution provisions, the cash advance has been the main barrier to acceptance.
"Advances are standard among established American publishers, and therefore are among the most important criteria we use to determine eligibility," King had said previously.
As stated on the group's website: "Members of the Authors Guild receive free book contract reviews from experienced legal staff, discounted health insurance rates in some states, low-cost website services including website-building, e-mail, and domain name registration, access to our free Back in Print service, our quarterly print Bulletin, and invitations to panels and programs throughout the year."