Sunday, February 14, 2010

Can You Afford NOT to Go to a Writers Conference

At first glance, many writers conferences seems expensive. $300 for two days? That's a lot of money...but is it really? Considering what you get from a conference and if you are serious about a writing career, the real question should be: can you really afford not to go?

Let's delve into the heart of writers conferences and figure out what you are really getting for $300. (Since I am the director of the Northern Colorado Writers Conference (NCWC), I will use this one as an example, but most conference have similar offerings).

Food
Most conference include food. For NCWC there is a nice dinner and lunch buffet, which includes a drink and dessert. Each are probably worth about $25. Plus a continental breakfast-about $10. So meals end up being worth about $50

Sessions
Every conference has educational sessions to attend. NCWC has 8 different sessions with 29 workshops to pick from. I have instructors with PhD's, agents, editors and industry professionals. A one hour, instructional session with these experts would probably run anywhere from $40-$100. We will stay on the low end and say it would be about $50 an hour or a total of $400.

Keynote Speakers
Most conferences will bring in big name authors, editors or other industry professionals to deliver a motivation speech during the meals. For NCWC I am having two keynote speakers, Stephen J. Cannell and Todd Mitchell, but I am also bringing in an professional Improv group to perform at the closing of the event. To buy a ticket to hear them speak or perform would probably be about $20 each, for a total of $60.

Pitch Sessions
Some conferences charge a little extra for pitch sessions, but for NCWC and other conferences it is included in the conference fee. But what is a 10 minute, face-to-face meeting with an agent or editor worth to you? This is a difficult one to price because you normally don't get these opportunities. So to me this goes into that priceless category.

Networking
This is another area that is hard to put a price tag on. Conferences are a great place to meet other writers and talk shop. There are also opportunities outside the pitch sessions to talk with the agents and editors. Plus the presenters are usually available to answer questions you may have. Many of the these people are untouchables out in the real world, but in the conference realm they are available to you. So how do you price that? How do you price being able to sit next to an editor at lunch and ask her questions? It also goes into the priceless category.

Add it all together and the tangible items equal $510, plus there are all the intangible, priceless items. So back to the original question, can you afford not to go to a writer's conference?

If you want to be a published author, professional freelance writer or make writing your career:
  • Can you afford not to meet face-to-face with agents, editors and other industry professionals and make those personal connections?
  • Can you afford not to learn what is currently happening in the publishing world from the experts who are already there?
  • Can you afford not to get some new tools for your writing toolbox from all the breakout sessions?
To find a conference near you visit my friend Patricia Stoltey's post at the Blood Red Pencil or visit The Shaw Guides.

What conferences do you plan on attending this year?

I would love to see you at the Northern Colorado Writers Conference March 26-27. (Colorado is a beautiful place to visit ) :-)

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11 comments:

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Kerrie -- I'll be attending NCWC in March and also Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold in September. I'd love to go to the big mystery convention Bouchercon 2010 which will be in San Francisco in October, but I haven't decided for sure yet.

Amy Tate said...

So true! These events shape my writing life while teaching me the ropes. Love em!

Laura Renegar said...

If it had not been for a conference I attended two years ago, I wouldn't have found my awesome critique group.

Kerrie said...

Amy and Laura,
I agree that conferences give us so much more than we ever anticipate.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great informative article. Thanks.

Melissa Taylor said...

You're very convincing, Kerrie. Hmmm. What to do . . .

Corra McFeydon said...

I'm convinced!! Thanks for breaking it down. :)

Corra

http://authorculture.blogspot.com/2010/01/interview-with-frugal-book-promoter.html

bruno said...

I would love to attend as I am just starting out and need to know if my ideas are worth pursuing. Right now I can't afford my mortgage never mind this conference. I hope to be able to make a connection with this group so that I can pursue this further. At least in my mind I am not giving up and this will happen.

Corra McFeydon said...

Hi! This is just a quick note to let you know I linked this article in my February review at Wordpress. I can't figure out how to do trackbacks to Blogger. I'm also tweeting it either tonight or tomorrow.

:)

Corra

from the desk of a writer

TirzahLaughs said...

There are no conferences in my area, so I'm also looking at flight costs, hotels, rental cars.

Blah.

I still want to go.

There is this one in Wyoming I'm in lust with. It is also in the second worst month of the year, late July. Horrendous for my schedule. The only thing worse would be August.

Why aren't there any good ones in my state in June?

Sigh.

Tirz

Kerrie said...

Corra,
Thanks for the tweets and links.

Tirz,
It would be great to have you come out for the conference. The Hilton is offering a special rate for conference attendees. All the info is on the Northern Colorado Writers website. Hope to see you at the end of March.

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