FAQs

If you do not see your question answered here, please contact us at uaa@theuaa.org.

Organization Basics

What is the UAA?

The UAA is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, professional, member-based organization. Our mission is to improve literacy within our communities and educate all that want to improve in the writing arts or assist in publications.

What makes the UAA different from other literacy and writing organizations?

Beyond the guiding philosophy our founder created, “SEEK to impact others”, we exceed the offerings of virtually every literacy and writing organization for our members and their surrounding communities. We hold annual events, meet monthly in local sponsored chapters for educational and critique purposes, require our members to serve in their communities (not just our internal community), welcome many types of professionals and aspiring professionals beyond writers/authors into our membership, and we require our members to agree to a code of conduct—what we call our Code of Ethics and Integrity—to ensure our members know and follow professional standards. We also welcome the public to our Public UAA Board Meetings, held every other month, in asking us for help. (The information for this meeting is on our Home page at the bottom.) If there is a literacy or writing need inline with our mission in your organization—and we can meet that need—we’ll do our best to fulfill it.

What is the 'SEEK To Impact Others' philosophy the UAA has adopted?

This philosophy was created by our founder when he envisioned how ideal cause-based and non-profit organizations should operate. SEEK is an acronym for Service, Education, Excellence, & Kinship. These four values guide our mission and purpose as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit public charity in everything we do. If you’re a business or potential donor, we’d love to show you how this works in our organization. These items are briefly explained on our home page as well as in a separate FAQ under “Miscellaneous”.

Who makes up your leadership?

We are a volunteer organization. Individuals are elected from the membership of the association based on merit, enthusiasm, and their vision for serving members and the community. No elected officer receives any compensation for their service. We truly have some of the best and most giving people who care about making a difference for others and their communities. A leadership profile page is coming soon.

Donations

Are membership dues in the UAA tax deductible?

Yes, membership dues are deductible. We are a 501(c)(3) public charity, and the IRS permits organizations filed such as ours to do this. At the end of each calendar year, our Treasurer (or their designated Chair) contacts all members via email and provides the documentation needed for individuals filing itemized tax documents.

Are donations to the UAA tax deductible?

Yes. We are a 501(c)(3) public charity. With each donation we send the individuals/organizations the necessary information for claiming the donation for tax write-off fillings. Donations over $500 take a little more time as signatures are required, but we’re happy to do it and very appreciative of any and all financial or strategic donations. As always, we encourage you to consult a tax professional to see how much you can give and what would be most advantageous to you or your organization. Thank you for your generosity.

Where can I get more information about donating to the UAA?

Thank you for your interest. If the information on our website does not answer your questions please contact us at uaa@theuaa.org. We can answer your questions there or point you to the information you seek.

Would you be willing to do a presentation of your organization for interested donors?

We can, with some limitations as we are, exclusively, a volunteer-based organization. Also our base of operations is in Utah. For meeting requests that require us to leave the Wasatch Front, we prefer these are handled over the web or via phone. For more local meetings, we’re willing to meet with you in-person for individuals/organizations willing to donate $1,000 or more. Please be patient as we schedule around our jobs, etc. In either case, please email us at uaa@theuaa.org with the details of your potential donation, e.g. size, any specific purpose you want it to be used for, as well as other nonprofit organizations you’ve donated to. Thank you for your interest in our organization and mission.

Membership

Who can join the UAA?

Membership is open to aspiring and established authors, writers, graphic novelists, bloggers, columnists, critics, journalists, poets, lyricists, artists, illustrators, comic book creators, literary agents, and editors. We also welcome partnerships with businesses and/or individuals wishing to help their communities in advancing literacy and the writing arts.

How can I join the UAA?

The UAA partners with local communities in sponsoring chapters for improving literacy and educating individuals in the craft and business of writing. To join the UAA you can check our Chapters page and find the nearest chapter to you. (We also have a list of locations waiting until there are a enough members to start a chapter in their area.) After finding the chapter nearest you, go to Join Us, see which membership you qualify under, and pay your membership dues for the chapter(s) you want to join. We will notify these chapter(s) and they will contact you. At the payment of dues you will be considered a member of the UAA and be eligible for UAA benefits.

Why should I join the UAA and what benefits do you offer?

In short, in the UAA you can know that you are making serious strides to learning and progressing in the craft and business of writing (regardless of your experience) while impacting your community with respect to literacy and writing. Our members network and build relationships with diverse people and organizations around them, make lifelong friends, and make a difference in the lives of others around them. Examples of membership benefits can be found on the Join Us page near each level of membership.

Why do you have membership levels?

Levels of membership in organizations like ours aren’t unheard of. It may be new to some, but the fact is most professional-oriented organizations have membership levels or standards of some kind.

We chose to implement levels of membership in our organization for several reasons. First, there is difference between an aspiring professional and one that has met professional standards. Second, creating these distinctions provides our members benchmarks and goals. Third, from a logistical point of view we are more aware of own community and how best to strengthen and serve them. Fourth, this awareness lets us know how best to serve the communities around us. There are more reasons, but we’ll deem these sufficient.

What are your membership levels?

The membership levels are:

Associate Membership for individuals aspiring towards professional success, i.e. those who haven’t met General Membership requirements.

General Membership for individuals that meet our professional standards found on the Join Us page.

Mentor Membership for General Members who wish to distinguish themselves more by giving back, as a result these members pay no dues. Becoming a Mentor requires an internal certification process.

There are two other designations, one for donors and the other for a very limited, merit-based few, called Ordered Members.

I won't be an Associate in your organization when I feel like I'm a General Member. Your standards are too high, do you make exceptions for people like me?

No. We do not compromise our standards. We’re sorry if this causes some hard feelings. When you examine our qualification standards they are on par with other professional, nonprofit organizations like us.

We understand it’s hard to see friends and colleagues as General Members. But in reality we DO NOT advertise what level of membership an individual has except for Mentors—these individuals have to be known for their designed purpose. As a matter of integrity, and as required by our Code of Ethics and Integrity, we do expect individuals to state their correct membership level when mentioning it to industry professionals such as agents, acquisition editors, etc. These, again, are private matters. Our model is best seen in-person as we create an environment where all members learn and grow from each other regardless of experience or success. If after all of this there are still reservations about being an Associate, you may not be a good fit for our organization.

What does the UAA require of Associate Members?

Our organization is for individuals who are committed to learning, improving, or teaching the craft and business of writing while impacting the communities around them. In order to remain in good standing the standards are—besides following our Code of Ethics and Integrity—payment of dues, attending at least five (5) UAA Chapter events or UAA online events (both free) or attend one UAA (or Regional UAA) conference. In regards to community service, Associates must provide an average of four or more hours of community service per year (impacting individuals outside the UAA) at UAA approved service initiatives through their chapter or UAA region.

Why is this required of Associates?

For us, Associates are aspiring professionals. These standards ensure our Associates are active in the community. That they continue improving themselves in the craft and business of writing.

What does the UAA require of General Members?

We expect the same as our Associate Members except there is a no attendance requirement. We typically utilize their service contributions in ways that are efficient and effective. Where their expertise and experience benefits the community and UAA members.

Why a different standard in regards to attendance?

Out of practicality. These individuals are often under deadlines, can be on tour from their publisher, etc. As such they attend chapter, online, or conference events as they want or are able to. In our organization these individuals—even with their busy schedules—still understand the value of giving back.

I just joined as a General Member, but actually I don't think I meet the requirements?

We understand, it happens. Thank you for your concern because we do take membership qualifications in our organization seriously. In this case, if we can refund your dues without taking a hit from transaction fees we will. Then you can join properly. If the timeframe for transaction fees has passed, we invite you to contact our Board at membership@theuaa.org. You’ll receive instructions on how to pay what is required for being an Associate in the chapter you joined so can remain a member in good standing. Thanks again.

What does the UAA require of Mentor Members?

This level of membership is open to General Members who wish to give back more or to General Members that have been nominated for this designation and accept its obligations. In doing such, Mentors do not pay dues but provide a higher service requirement—an average of twelve hours per year. This service can be given within the UAA community or at special initiatives outside the UAA community. Mentors are nominated by members (and in some cases volunteer) and are qualified by the Board through an internal process.

What is Ordered Membership?

This membership is exclusive. It is reserved for those that have demonstrated a significant dedication or commitment to impacting the community in regards to literacy and the writing arts. These are individuals who have embodied the mottos the UAA has established under our “SEEK To Impact Others”:

Service mottos = “Inspiration Through Service” & “Motivation Through Compassion”
Education motto = “Courage Through Preparation”
Excellence motto = “In All Things, Integrity & Dedication.”
Kinship mottos = “We Grow Together” & “Prosperity Through Unity”

The UAA has high membership standards, aren't you worried that will limit your membership?

No, we’re not worried. If our standards limit our membership we’re happy they do. We know to some that sounds weird—like we’re not taking money—but money is not our biggest drive. Money is actually a consequence of excellence and integrity. Without these things, monetary gifts or membership dues prop up an organization rather than expand its mission. This is another reason we take our “SEEK To Impact Others” philosophy seriously. This is also the reason we’re okay building something slow and steady.

Community Service

Why do you require your members to do community service?

Because we want to give back and form habits of doing so. Many people wrongly believe they will serve when they can, i.e. when things change. Like most things in life, habits do not begin with a change of circumstances, but rather habits change circumstances. The service burden in our organization is not overly heavy, but its cumulative effect amongst all our members has great influence. As a result of serving in their communities to people often disenfranchised, or forgotten by most, these persons have been extremely touched and many members have reported their service helped their works in progress. The mottos we have associated to service, “Inspiration through service. Motivation through compassion” have proved true frequently.

Okay, how much community service is required of your members?

Associate and General Members are required to give an average of at least 4 or more hours a year. Mentor Members are required to give an average of at least 12 hours a year. Amongst many people its impact adds up fast.

Where do your members do their service at?

We research and pick locations in the community where individuals have low literacy rates and/or writing skills. Where, we believe, greater literacy and writing comprehension would impact not just the individuals but the communities they are in. We generally prefer at-risk youth centers, prisons/jails, impoverished communities and so forth. Ultimately, where our members can make a lasting difference. We are coordinating what we can share and can’t share with the locations we do service at. When we get the proper approvals (privacy reasons) you’ll be able to see these service locations on an Outreach menu.

Why don't you do service or book drives at one of your (or your chapter) events and then focus on education the rest of the year?

That’s really two separate issues. In regards to service at our events or one of our chapter’s events. These meetings are for educational and critique purposes only—occasionally some meetings can be for necessary business.

Addressing the larger problem. There is a tendency for people to think, “Let’s get it [the service] over with.” This serves the people claiming to do the service more than individuals receiving the service. That’s not what we’re about. In the UAA, we promote literacy by having our members go into schools, at-risk centers, resident facilities, library programs, etc. We help educate and promote literacy and writing directly within communities throughout the year. We believe this steady community involvement makes a bigger impact versus just a one-time (usually low commitment) service project/donation at an event. We’re not saying these things don’t help in some way. What we are saying is that we understand the cumulative effect of continuous service. Consistency and frequency impact individuals even to generations. Things like this are one of the reasons we’re different in regards to how we serve and help our communities.

Regarding book drives. Most drives/donations aren’t done properly, except those run by established organizations whose main purpose is book drives. Sadly, many organizations are tempted (and often fall prey to competitions) in who can donate the most books. It’s easy to think clearing off shelves serves others—a true win-win. However, most people have never been on the receiving end of a book donation, especially a bulky, drop-’em-in-the-box or we-need-books-so-any-books-will-do one. In effective book drives, the QUANTITY of books does not matter (unless they’re being sold for pulp), rather the QUALITY of books matters more. An example of an excellent book drive is this remarkable young woman. 115 hours of service! Few individuals or organizations (unless their primary purpose is book drives) are willing to put in that kind of work. We’re an exception because any thing we do, we’re committed to doing it right. True service addresses a need and follows through by fulfilling wants too. So if/when the UAA finds a need for a book a drive the example provided is standard we’ll follow.

My publicist says donating books to needy places is a good thing for authors. Why won't the UAA help me get my books into these kinds of areas if you claim to serve your members and your communities?

First of all, no and no. Second, we’re going to be blunt here. Our job is to help educate you and provide meaningful service opportunities, not do your work for you. If this is your expectation of us, we’re not a good fit for you.

Now think deeper on what you’ve been told . . . much deeper. Why would your publicist outsource you to us? Isn’t building your brand part of the job you’re paying them for? Now understand it’s not likely we’ve read your book, so we don’t know if it’s any good and us helping you in this manner would never be endorsement.

Finally, thinking that donating your book in this manner will be an excellent brand/marketing strategy is misguided. People buy your work generally for three reasons: 1) they are related to you; 2) they like you and will buy your work even if the quality is so-so; and/or 3) the quality of your work is exceptional and they want it. Authors market their books to death. Some pull things off after A LOT of work. However, marketing is so much easier when you have #3 solid then #2. #1 helps when you come from a large family. 😉

Our goal is to help with #3 and #2 (under the right motivation). Aaaannnnnddd, we’ll stay away from what it takes to encourage #1. Thank you very much 😀

Events

What writing events do you have during the year?

Our sponsored chapters hold meetings every month. These meetings can be in the form of providing critiques or educational meetings for our members and the communities in which they reside. For individual members not near our geographic chapter locations, we hold online critique sessions and occasionally educational meetings throughout the year. We also come together at an annual conference for writers, editors, agents, cover artists, etc. in the fall, typically in October. At times, based on desire and availability, we help our chapters hold special events such as retreats, tables at venues, and so forth, as long as it’s inline with our mission and purpose.

What are the dates of your writers conference?

UAACon is held in the fall, typically in October. Details are posted on a UAACon menu within our site as venue location, keynotes, distinguished guests, etc. become finalized. If the menu item is not there, it’s because things are not finalized yet.

How much is UAACon?

The UAACon menu will have all this information when it is available as well as any event add-ons.

Chapters

How do I join a Chapter in the UAA?

First, see if there is a chapter in your area. Second, we encourage you to try it out a couple for a couple of meetings. Finally, if you like what you see you can go to the Join Us page and select the option to join the chapter(s) you want.

If there is not a chapter in your area yet, please contact us at membership@theuaa.org to be put on a waiting list.

What does it mean that I'll be put on a waiting list along with other individuals for creating a UAA Chapters in my area?

It means there are not enough people in your area to apply for a chapter charter from us, yet. We will notify you when your area meets the requirements for applying for a chapter charter with us. In the meantime, you can spread the word in your area and help the process go faster.

How does the UAA ensure its chapters provide value?

We train our chapters and their leadership multiple times during the year. Topics such as, how to provide exceptional events, how to critique properly, where to serve, managing finances, trouble-shooting best practices and so forth are just some of the topics we cover. We’re invested in our chapters. Chartering a chapter is symbol of a mutual trust and partnership.

How many potential members and individuals do you require for leadership positions in order to form a chapter?

We require twenty (20) new members within a geographic area in order to apply for a chapter charter. And of those twenty (20) members, three (3) must be willing to serve and be approved by the prospective members in serving in a leadership capacity—one specifically in a Chapter President capacity. We call these requirements our 20 | 3 rule.

But we're super serious individuals, will you make an exception on chartering our chapter even if we don't meet the 20 | 3 rule now?

No, sorry. We have been asked to deviate from our standards and charter chapters with as little as five (5) members up to nineteen (19), but we cannot and will not. We simply do not compromise our standards. From experience and research, we know that chapters are not stable long-term, do not do well, or fail to make a significant impact in their community for literacy—even amongst themselves in regards to the craft and business of writing—unless they have at least twenty (20) members and three (3) persons voted into leadership positions.

The point of the UAA is to create strong, community-impacting chapters. We appreciate your seriousness and commitment, but as much as we creative types hate it, we have to be realists: People move. Life happens. There is strength and stability in greater numbers.

Does having less than twenty (20) members and less than three (3) people in leadership positions really affect a chapter?

Yes, again from experience and research, compromising on the 20 | 3 rule has too many negative consequences. These effects usually manifest themselves in all or some of the following ways:

1) The local leadership often being overwhelmed or missing in action.

2) Chapter dynamics overtime becoming inherently political and remaining so even after a chapter grows beyond twenty (20) members—if it does.

3) Most problematic to the dreams and hopes of the members is their artistic styles and patterns tend to lean towards one or two dominate members. Herein the lack of diversity and opinions does the most damage to growth and creative exploration.

Following our 20 | 3 rule avoids these things and generates stability and lasting impact within a community.

Miscellaneous

How is the 'SEEK To Impact Others' specifically applied to the UAA?

Service — This value is paramount; without it nothing noteworthy would ever be accomplished.

We go beyond serving our members—considering this expected—but rather require that our members serve during the year in the communities they live, or have influence in, for the purpose of promoting literacy and/or writing. Each of our chapters are required to pick a service location where their members will serve. When a chapter grows larger than the need of the service location they pick an additional location/cause.  We encourage noble causes such as helping with literacy or writing in at-risk youth shelters, prisons, Title I Schools, impoverished communities, etc. Ultimately we train our chapter leadership to search out a need in regards to literacy or writing in their community and have them fill it. We firmly believe in our service mottos, “Inspiration through service” & “Motivation through compassion”.

Education — In conjunction with Service, we require high standards of education in all our functions and also with the chapters we sponsor. Besides the UAA holding a yearly conference (UAACon) we require that all chapters we sponsor hold monthly meetings. To this end, we provide all of our chapters with funds from our tax-deductible membership dues to bring in and pay for dynamic presenters. We also require chapters to self-educate within themselves. In this matter, aspiring professionals get the opportunity to stretch themselves in teaching fellow members some aspect of the writing arts within a safe environment. By providing educational meetings throughout the year, our members are more apt to be ready when professional opportunities arise. Our education motto is, “Courage through preparation.”

Excellence — We strive for this value in all that we do professionally and personally. First, all of our members agree to the Code of Integrity & Ethics. Second, the UAA Board, and individuals they appoint, provide trainings to local chapter leadership. This training helps ensure the culture we expect rooted in professionalism, helpfulness, and kindness. In short, we challenge and push each other to be the best people we can be. To this end, the UAA can best be described as an organization that is made up of individuals who are serious in their pursuit of their craft with professional or greater professional aspirations while practicing the “Giver’s Gain” outside our membership community. Our motto for excellence is, “In all things, integrity and dedication.”

Kinship —There is something profound that happens when people engage in Service, Education, and strive for Excellence with each other. Kinship is a natural consequence. As a result, many individuals within the UAA have made or are making lifelong friendships. And these friendships are amongst varying professions. educational backgrounds, success, or writing experience. The reason for this is, our members know that everyone, at some point, was a beginner. We help each other with the vision that “A rising tide lifts all boats.” ~JFK

I've never seen an organization like the UAA that requires community service. Are you serious? What is your honest opinion about your organization's future?

Yes, we’re serious. And thank you for your concern. We have many people working hard without constant thought for themself. Because of this, and many other things, we believe our future is bright. The thing to realize about the UAA is that our high standards ensure we get the people we want in our organization and vice versa. Our members are amazing and know how to turn things around even if the odds are against them.

And here’s the thing about our members. Most have stopped asking, “What do literacy and writing organizations do for me?” Instead, they understand the simple but often neglected (or forgotten fact), that all professional and aspiring individuals within the arts are dependent on their communities for support and success. Indeed, the sooner individuals realize this and work to improving their communities, the sooner the “Giver’s Gain” is a natural consequence. So if this type of giving and receiving interests you, we invite you to join us. Together we’ll learn, improve, and make a difference to those around us!