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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 ) :-)