Major writers organizations
This list is both subjective and U.S.-oriented. I want the writer or editor new to a rather large world of specialty organizations to know which organizations are the big ones, in size and influence. That doesn't mean they're the ones that will prove most immediately useful for an individual -- but they tend to have more clout than the others, when it comes to something like a fight over copyright, for example, or promoting professional behavior. See also
Specialized and niche writing (organizations and resources geared to writing specialties, such as writing about animals, autos, bowling, children's books, food, gardens, family history, jazz, rιsumιs, sports, travel, and wine--or writing for children, academia, the Web, or public relations)
Local and regional writers organizations
Major organizations for writers and allied creative artists
American Photographic Artists (an alliance of advertising and media professionals)
American Society of Journalists & Authors (ASJA), the only professional association focused on independent nonfiction writers
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the only performing rights organization in the U.S. owned by songwriters, composers, and music publishers
American Society of Media Photographers (major trade association for respected photographers)
Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ),strong on getting health care and medical stories right.
Authors Coalition of America, LLC (an association of independent authors' organizations representing text writers, songwriters, visual artists, illustrators and photographers -- created in 1994 to repatriate and distribute the creator's share of foreign non-title-specific royalty payments for American works photocopied abroad)
Authors Guild, the nation's leading advocate for writers' interests in effective copyright protection, fair contracts, and free expression. It provides legal assistance (especially about book contracts), has a legal staff, and a board of famous writers, which offers some defense against publishers' tendencies to whittle away at writers' rights and share of income on writers' work. Almost 8,000 members, in various genres. Members receive free the Guilds Model Trade Book Contract & Guide, a particularly helpful reference guide explaining desirable clauses (and why) in writers book contracts. I just got my copy in 2014 and checked to see that it is truly updated for the digital age (so you avoid being ripped off about ebook rights, etc.).
Authors Registry, a clearinghouse or payment agent for organizations wishing to distribute payments to individual U.S.-resident authors.
Biographers International Organization (BIO), founded in 2010 to represent the everyday interests of practicing biographers.
Dramatists Guild of America (the professional association of playwrights, composers, lyricists & lybrettists)
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), defending freedom in the digital world
Graphic Artists Guild, a national union of illustrators, designers, production artists and other creatives who come together to pursue common goals, raise industry standards, and improve the ability of visual creators to achieve rewarding careers Here's where you can download Disability Access symbols.
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), strong on training and on ethics and freedom of the press issues. Must-join for investigative journalists.
Mystery Writers of America (MWA), organization for mystery and crime writers, professionals allied to crime writing, aspiring crime writers, and folks who just love to read crime fiction. Important awards program.
National Association of Science Writers (NASW, 2,200 science writers and editors and science-writing educators and students whose aim is to improve their craft and encourage conditions that promote good science writing.
National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), an alliance of over 40 national nonprofit organizations, including literary, artistic, religious, educational, professional, labor, and civil liberties groups defending freedom of thought, inquiry, and expression, educating the public about the dangers of censorship, and cultivating a climate of opinion hospitable to First Amendment freedoms.
The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) a professional organization for visual journalists (7,000 members strong), promoting the creation, practice, training, editing and distribution of visual journalism in all news media, as a valuable public service
National Writers Union (NWU),part of United Auto Workers, easy to join.
The Newspaper Guild (Communications Workers of America) and The Guild Reporter.
Novelists, Inc, a professional organization for multi-published writers of popular fiction in all genres (whether two novels or 102), with about 500 members
PEN America (poets/playwrights, essayists/editors, novelists), an organization of published authors, aspiring writers, and all who love the written word, with an emphasis on literary writers around the world (fighting for the rights and lives of those living where speech and the press are not free). PEN's mission, as part of the literary and human rights community, is to defend free expression everywhere through such vehicles as PEN's Freedom to Write program, the PEN World Voices Festival, Readers & Writers, the PEN Literary Awards, Prison Writing, and the Prison Writing Awards.
PEN/New England (PEN-NE). is a branch of PEN American Center, and part of International PEN, the oldest international literary organization and the oldest human rights organization in the world.
Poets & Writers (PW), excellent resource for poets and literary writers
Romance Writers of America (RWA), advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy (more than 10,250 members in 145 chapters offer local or special-interest networking and education). This organization KNOWS how to cultivate fans!
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA), informs, supports, promotes, defends and advocates for its members, helping over 1800 authors, artists, and allied professionals deal effectively with agents, editors, anthologists and producers in non-print media. Distinguished awards program.
Sisters In Crime, founded by Sara Paretsky and a group of women at the 1986 Bouchercon in Baltimore to combat discrimination against women in the mystery field and promote the professional advancement of women who write mysteries. Has 3600 members in 48 chapters worldwide.
Society for Technical Communication (STC), whose 14,000 members include technical writers and editors, content developers, documentation specialists, technical illustrators, instructional designers, academics, information architects, usability and human factors professionals, visual designers, Web designers and developers, and translators - anyone whose work makes technical information available to those who need it.
Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a highly selective professional association that represents the interests of more than 1300 professional journalists, photographers, and media relations professionals in North America--promoting responsible journalism, high professional standards,the right of freedom to travel, and conservation and preservation of historic sites and natural wonders
The Society of Authors, serving the interests of professional British writers, 8500 members strong.
Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the only organization in the country devoted to furthering the careers of authors and illustrators of children's and young adult books. This genre has altogether different approaches to publishing, so if this is the field you aspire to, join and participate. Important awards program.
Songwriters Guild of America, formed in 1931 to advance, promote, and benefit the profession of songwriters or their estates through the collection of members' royalties from publishers, the auditing of writer accounts, notification and filing of members' copyright renewal applications, administration of members' publishing rights, and legal and legislative efforts
Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), important organization of (chiefly staff) journalists.
Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA) keeps its members (authors of text and academic material) informed about their professional interests as authors and educators, protects their copyright and contract rights, and helps improve the working conditions of creators of academic intellectual property.
Western Writers of America, Inc. (WWA), founded in 1935 to promote the literature of the West, WWA is now an organization of freelance writers of Western fiction and nonfiction who banded together to lift the standards of their products, gain better promotion and publicity, and foster understanding of the mutual problems and efforts of WWA's members
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) , one of 16 specialized agencies of the United Nations system of organizations, WIPO being responsible for promoting the protection of intellectual property rights worldwide.
Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW), where Hollywood is. Check out its guide to new media and its entertaining Hotlist (under Writing Tools), among other site features.
The Writers' Guild of Great Britain
Organizations for writers, editors, and others in creative arts
(directories with links, by type)
Arts and poetry organization
Awards, grants, and fellowships
Biographers, memoirists,and other life story writers
Copyright and intellectual property discussion groups and listservs on
Corporate, government, and technical communicators
Editors, indexers, and other publishing professionals
Fiction writers and editors
Freelancers, contractors, telecommuters
Job banks and publishing marketplaces
Journalism and journalists
Local and regional writers organizations
Major writers organizations (fighting for creators' rights, interests, and ethical behavior)
Media pros and other allied professionals (translators, indexers, designers, photographers, artists, illustrators, animators, cartoonists, image professionals, composers)
Medical, health, and science writers and editors
Narrative nonfiction and long-form journalism, sites and resources
Other storytelling venues
Online writers groups, critique groups, and communities (connect with other writers and editors)
Publishers and booksellers
Thoughtful radio and TV talk shows
Rights holders (licensing organizations and rights clearinghouses; organizations for clearing rights in visual arts, music and sound, books, scripts, and screenplays)
Screenwriters, playwrights, documentary filmmakers, and critics
Other specialties and niches (groups for writers who specialize in animals, autos, bowling, children's books,food, gardens, family history, jazz, rιsumιs, sports, travel, Web writing, wine, etc.)
Social networking for readers
Translators and interpreters
Writers workshops, conferences, and other learning places