Sunday, February 18, 2007

Why should academic authors join the National Press Club?

The National Press Club is the nation's premier organization for journalists. But did you know it is also interested in welcoming academic authors like you as members? In fact, as a nonfiction author with books published by certain recognized presses (university presses qualify, as do the great trade houses), you may qualify for the Club's first tier of membership. Here is how the National Press Club defines Active Members: "Generally editorial members of the 'working press,' college-level journalist instructors and published non-fiction authors." In other words (if you're in the core audience for this blog), quite possibly published scholars like you.

The National Press Club is a leader in highlighting the work of important, newsmaking authors. Its annual Book Fair in November offers national exposure via C-SPAN, plus personal contact with journalists, book buyers, and literary pundits. It also enjoys substantial media coverage, including Book TV and satellite radio, which can help boost book sales and publicity. Last year’s event attracted over 1,000 visitors to meet the 70 highlighted authors. Those who have participated include: Bill Bryson, General Wesley Clark, Walter Cronkite, Senator Byron Dorgan, Bob Edwards, John Eisenhower, Francis Fukuyama, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Marvin Kalb, Larry King, Jim Lehrer, George McGovern, Bill O’Reilly, E. Annie Proulx, Nora Roberts, Bob Schieffer, and Scott Simon. For mainstage book events the Club has welcomed Michael Crichton, J. K. Rowling, Chuck Palahniuk, John Irving, and Barbara Kingsolver. Georgetown University authors invited to participate in National Press Club book events or Book Fair include James J. O'Donnell, Pietra Rivoli, Maureen Corrigan, David Gewanter, and G. Ronald Murphy, S.J. Upcoming authors for 2007 include Perfect Storm author Sebastian Junger, The Secret Life of Lobsters author Trevor Corson, Frida author Barbara Mujica, Jack Valenti, Newt Gingrich, and Senator Charles Schumer.

Requirements are rigorous. Two active members must nominate you, and you need to assemble a portfolio of your published work. Then your application will be submitted to the membership committee and perhaps even the board. If you think your books and writing for the media may qualify for National Press Club membership, please write to me (as an active member, I serve on the NPC Book Committee, Book Fair Subcomittee, and I'm a producer for the XM radio program "From the National Press Club") about your potential for nomination. Even if you're not sure, it is worth having the discussion now, because the rewards of joining this dynamic and powerful organization are so great.

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