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ASJA writer conference

ASJA 2013 Writer Conference in New York

Every year the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) hosts a writers conference in New York. Since I just got my ASJA membership this year, I took a trip to check it out!

ASJA writer memberBesides learning that ASJA is not pronounced azz-jah and is instead spelled out for the acronym that it is, my brain hurt from learning so many other things! Here are the takeaways from my time at their New York writers conference:

  1. Writers don’t need to form a corporation. Writers are sole proprietors, but many choose to incorporate or form an LLC to protect their assets and give the impression they are “bigger” than what they are. There are benefits and drawbacks of forming business entities, but I always thought they were great tools for protecting one’s assets from a lawsuit. Turns out, writers are quite exceptional. If a journalist or memoir author writes something that is allegedly defaming or invades privacy, regardless if they have formed an LLC, the complaining party may sue their business entity and the individual writer because “when you personally write something you can personally be sued.” If you are running a writing company through which you employ and pay others, then it makes more sense to form some type of corporation. Otherwise, the attorneys on the ASJA panel advise keeping it simple and operating as a sole proprietor.
  2. Before deciding on a book cover, test how it displays on multiple mobile devices. Readers are not just buying books while on their desktop computers anymore. Make sure your book cover design is easily viewable and eye-catching on multiple smartphone platforms and on tablets.
  3. Writers need to be their own patient advocate when it comes to healthcare. There are many types of health insurance programs for freelance writers, and the national healthcare changes will bring more options come January 1st. At the asset protection session I attended, insurance experts stressed how important it is to speak up when you are receiving medical treatment:
      • If you go to the emergency room – make sure you advise healthcare professionals to note you are there for an emergency. Some individuals fail to do this and hospital staff label the visit incorrectly, creating problems with what is and what is not covered under your insurance.
      • Before receiving medical treatment, if possible, ask for physicians who are in your network. Hospitals will not do this on your behalf unless you ask.
      • Always ask about generic prescriptions. Although illegal, some doctors push certain name brand prescription drugs because they get benefits. Find out if a generic version is as effective and save money this way.

You do not need to be a member of ASJA to attend their annual conference. If you are in New York or planning to take a trip there next spring, I highly recommend signing up for a day or two at their next event!