Romance Writers of America filed for bankruptcy in Houston on Wednesday, May 31, 2024, citing declining membership and payment agreements with hotels to host its annual conference.

According to the filing, RWA membership has declined from approximately 10,000 members prior to 2019 to about 3,000. Annual conference attendance dropped to around 2,000 members.

RWA planned to host its 2024 annual conference at The Marriott Austin but in 2022 unsuccessfully tried to amend or cancel an earlier contract with the hotels based on higher membership numbers in 2018. RWA remains on the hook to pay for the hotel’s unsold rooms for the upcoming event

In court documents, the association listed between $100,000 and $500,000 in assets with between $1 million and $10 million in liabilities.

The RWA has been engulfed in turmoil due in part to racialized politics.

The crisis began with the suspension of member Courtney Milan for criticizing perceived racism within the organization.

Key Events:
**Cancellation of 2020 RITA Awards:
** Nominees and judges withdrew their participation due to concerns about racism and lack of diversity.
**Withdrawal of Major Publishers: Harlequin and Avon pulled out of the annual conference, putting its financial viability at risk.
**Resignations of RWA President and Executive Director: Damon Suede and Carol Ritter resigned after just two weeks and several months of tenure, respectively.
**Underlying Issues:
**Long-standing history of marginalizing marginalized authors
**Perception by members that Milan was a “progressive rabble-rouser”
**Controversial cover of RWA newsletter depicting a white woman helping a black woman up a mountain
**Ongoing Aftermath:
** The fallout led to widespread outrage and resignations from the organization.

RWA pledged to address racism and diversity issues, but its survival is uncertain.

The incident has sparked a broader conversation about systemic bias in the publishing industry.

References: [Vox: The implosion of the romance novel industry]( * [Publishers Weekly: Romance Writers of America Suspends Courtney Milan, Member Reacts]( * [NPR: Romance Writers of America Faces Turmoil Over Allegations of Racism](

This story was assisted by AI.