Sticker Shock

The 2009 Romantic Times Booklovers Convention is going to cost $490 next year.  Can you believe that?  The hotel alone will cost $121 for a single room and since I don’t do roommates (personal reasons), that’s going to hurt.  I guess someone forgot to tell the folks at RT about the mortgage fallout or the gas crunch because I don’t see any slack being cut. 

Considering the other things I have going on in my life right now, I’m seriously rethinking RT.  Even if I didn’t have those other things, I’d still be putting up roadblocks on this.  Five-hundred bucks is too much and I don’t care how much fun I have or how many books I bring home.  It won’t amount to the conference costs.  My only hope is to find a cheaper hotel within walking distance.  I’ve found one, but I’m not sure how much walking is required and that will become a huge factor later on.  So much for hoping to make a full week out of it at Disney and Universal Studios, too.  If I make it to RT 2009, I have a feeling that will be my last year.

Pity, too.  I LOVE RT’s conventions.  There aren’t any lines drawn in the sand regarding the definition of published versus non-published.  I met Victoria and Kim, two lovely ladies of a Illinois library system, and some fabulous authors who I adore to this day.  The panels are great and so are the fans.  The parties are a riot.

If RWA in DC is anything like this, it might be a bust, too.  Although, I’m not regretting that as much as RT because I’m more into romantic elements and not romance these days.  Perhaps I should take the hint and stick to the much cheaper fantasy/sci-fi/horror conventions. 
DragonCon: $40 for a full weekend. 
Staying at the Hyatt: approx. $360 for the duration of the convention
Watching 20,000 people dressed in wild costumes for 3 days: priceless (and free).

23 thoughts on “Sticker Shock

  1. Are you going to DragonCon?

    We live about 2-3 hours away. I may be able to con my husband into taking me one day. whee! (little zoe currently has no car of her own. poor little zoe.)

    I would love to go to the booklover’s convention, but yeah, it’s pricey. Which sort of makes me laugh about the “money flows to the author” thing, I mean I KNOW what they mean, but clearly writers like to spend money on what they’re doing. Writing books, magazines, conventions, workshops,etc. etc. Then promo and marketing when they get published. Yeah writers aren’t just sitting and letting money flow to them.

  2. No DragonCon this year and I’m so freakin’ bummed. When I saw that Spike was going to being there, I almost said the heck with it, I’m going. But alas, I’m not. 😦 Blame it on my going to Moonlight and Magnolias. Although, I hear it’s a great little convention, too. They’re only a month apart, but I can only afford one. Since I’ve never been to M&M, I decided to give it a try. Um…you guys could always drive up for that. Pretty please? 🙂

    I hear what you mean by that “money flowing to the author” thing. It really doesn’t make much sense, if you think about it, especially if you’re small-press published. With all due respect to small or e-pubs, but when it comes to advances (if you get one) and royalties, you can’t justify a conference expense like RT. I’ve more than spent my advance promoting my book. At this point, the point the Bank of Marcia is closed.

  3. James Marsters is gonna be there? Seriously? Okay, yeah, see it doesn’t matter if he’s there or not because I won’t go talk to him. I’ll just look like a big ninny fan girl and I can’t deal with that lol.

    Where is M&M? And what type of con is it?

    I guess that’s what’s so hard for me to get behind with publishing with a small press. There is no disrespect intended but…if I’m doing all this marketing and promo and investing all my money in it, I can’t justify the fact that I”m just getting paid royalties and not actual profit.

  4. Oh yeah. I’d be with you drooling down the front of my leg and puddling pooling around my ankle. I swear that conference gets better and better every year. The same goes for the writer’s track.

    M&M stands for Moonlight and Magnolias and it’s supposed to be a scaled-down version of RWA. I hear it’s very good, but I’ve never gone before.

    Small presses and e-pubs are fantastic for many reasons. I wouldn’t submit to them if they weren’t. BUT, let’s be real about it. There’s a reason why I keep submitting to agents and hoping to land NY someday. I want MORE out of my writing career. I would be lying if I said the money had nothing to do it. It does. And that’s why I have a hard time justifying $500 for my beloved convention on a small publisher’s contract. Something needs to happen that will tip me from straddling the fence to the “I’m going!” category. Otherwise, I had better settle in because those pickets up my ass are going get more painful as the end date for registration closes. 😉

  5. hehehe. Oh I know what you’re saying. I don’t think small pubs or epubs are bad. In fact I think it’s good for the book industry as a whole NOT to ONLY be the megas. And I’m seeing a lot of small pubs that are playing smart and growing, and I think in the next ten years we’ll have several strong mid-size houses.

    I just can’t justify personally giving up that much of the profit pie for the level of work I have to do on my own. Though at the same time I do truly GET that it’s wonderful for a writer to have his/her project financed like that, even on a small scale. No doubt about it.

    I’m just personally wired in such a way, I’d rather just start my own micropress than have a middle man. Then if later I can attract a New York pub or agent, if that’s right for me when I cross that bridge, then okay.

  6. You made me think about Mary B. Morrison who happens to be doing a panel at RT 2009. It’s titled something like “How to go from self published to six-figures.” Though I’m not looking at self-publishing right now, I bet that panel is definitely worthwhile for any published writer, regardless of how they get there.

    I’m convinced that anyone can make it and there are many different ways to reach our publishing goals. It’s a matter of conviction and what works best for our mindsets. We think differently, therefore, our roads to publication will be different. Nothing wrong with that.

    However, one area where we seem to think alike is the financial aspect. I’ve given up 4x my piece of the pie for each of my books, and I just can’t do it anymore. It’s not a matter of won’t. I believe that authors should be out there pushing their book and trying to get it into as many hands as possible, though I also believe they shouldn’t be going at it alone. But unfortunately, there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough. RT 2009’s sticker shock was it for me.

  7. Holly Hell, I’d love to hear that panel. Not that I think I”m going to make the big bucks here, but hey, any help one can get is helpful.

    Absolutely! And I always hope it comes across that I don’t think publishers are evil in any way. It’s purely 100% a personal business decision and nothing more.

    Yep. I know there is so much stigma for writers still about going indie because so much crap is produced,but I think a few people have already started trailblazing to prove indies can be good. For me it’s a matter of dollars and sense. If I’m investing a certain amount of money in promo, but only making 1/4th per book what I could make going indie…well it obviously makes more sense for me personally to go indie. Because Yes, you might sell less as an indie than you would with a New York pub, but I’m not convinced that you sell less as an indie than you do with a very small press, if you can write. That said, I’d rather make 3-4 times more per book.

  8. LOL! If enough people had more “sense” instead “cents” when it came to their dollars, they might be better off.

    And no, you don’t comes off like that at all. You have a good head on your shoulders and you know what’s best for you. There’s not wrong with that. Publishing has changed so much in these last few years than it has since the first publishing house opened that it pays to experiment, whether it’s through indie, small press, or e-pub.

    And don’t discount yourself about the bucks. I recall reading somewhere an entire list of authors who went indie and hit it big. Word of mouth was how they did it and it’s a lot cheaper than spending thousands of dollars in for conferences/conventions, bookmarks, pens, book trailers, sticky notes, etc. Trust me, I’ve learned my lesson. I did a lot of clostly experimenting with my promo to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Good writing trumps everything. Period.

  9. Absolutely! And that’s got to be my biggest focus. If you write something people fall in love with, that’s your absolute best marketing tool. (It’s true with any product too, not just books. Exceed expectations for your product or service and it’s the best advertising you can get) Doesn’t mean you don’t have to network or market, you do, cause peeps won’t beat a path to your door, but it’s amazing what creating something really good will do.

    My biggest worry isn’t that I can’t market properly or hire good people or whatever, my biggest worry is the quality of the work itself.

  10. RT was never in my radar. If I don’t sell, I won’t go to National this year either. I’m happy with the smaller conferences. I don’t get lost, the lines aren’t so long, and like you said, they’re cheaper.

    I hear M&M is a great one. You can tell us the highlights and post more pictures on your website. 🙂

  11. I’m so with you on that one, Edie. That was the reason why I didn’t go to RT in 2007. I didn’t sell, so I didn’t see the point.

    IMHO, RT is great for authors who want to get out there and meet their fans. It doesn’t matter what you write or how you got published. However, I don’t see where it does any good for a pre-pubbed. Perhaps, I’m mistaken. It wouldn’t be a first time. 😉 Granted, RT has their own writer’s retreat, but I haven’t heard any success stories from it either. I think the best writers retreats are those that last longer than a couple of days anyway…and probably cost a couple grand to even get your name on a waiting list. Like Clarion East or West and there’s another one, I can’t think of at the moment.

    The only small conference I went to was Celebrate Romance. It was very small and intimate, though it was more so for the same reason as RT. For writers to connect with their readers. CR was amazing!! I’m hoping M&M is along those same lines, too. So far, everything I’ve heard about it has been fantastic. Come next year, I might be going again, if Nationals goes overboard with their prices in DC.

  12. Talk about sticker shock, everything is expensive. I went to a farmer’s market today. A farmer’s market. You know, where you get cheap produce?

    $6 for a quart of rasberries. $6 for a quart of tomatoes. A QUART! How are you supposed to make spaghetti sauce?! I used to buy a HUGE grocery bag spilling over with tomatoes for $6. Now they want to give me 5 or 6 tomatoes.

    You should see the price of the International Thriller Conference. I forget exactly, but it’s up in the $700 or higher range. That’s actually what professional conferences in some other fields cost.

    But still. We’re starving writers.

  13. Spy, I find it a little disturbing how expensive writer’s cons have gotten. Especially when the vast majority of people who go to them are struggling midlist authors or struggling unpublished writers.

    I guess it’s because I don’t really see cons as true investments. I guess they can be great for some people and I don’t deny that meeting people is awesome. But truly any info you can get about writing or the industry is “out there” usually in a much cheaper form, like say, industry blogs.

    And any contact you can make you can make just as easily online through interacting and such. Though I know some people are blog shy. So a con might be really beneficial for them, giving them a little face time with an agent or whatever.

  14. ah, one exception…if I needed another tax write off, to lower the amount I had to pay uncle sam, I’d definitely go to a writer con.

  15. Interesting, Spy. About a month ago, the Today Show did a report on going to the farmer’s market for cheaper prices. I had a hard time seeing the savings and I still do. And at those prices you mentioned, it sounds like they listened to the same news report that I did.

    I have friends who swear by ITC. It sounds like a blast, too. But when I found out it was in NY city, I pretty much tuned it out. There’s no way I’m paying $700 for a conference. I’d rather use that money to find a good book doctor.

    So much for that money flowing TO the author.

  16. 😆 Zoe, that is one positive about a writer’s conference. It is a tax write off and you bet I get mine.

    Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE going t conferences. I’d go to ITC, HWA, and any other con I can think of. Assuming, I were loaded. I’m not. Meeting with fans, free books, networking, the excitement, it’s all great. Are you kidding me? I salivate even when I think about it.

    However, the money I have to keep putting out to make it happen when the prices keep going up, just isn’t there anymore and I’m tired of making sure it is. Come next year, I’ll be lucky if I can get to more one conference/convention and that’s it. Which it’ll be, I don’t know. It’s too soon to tell.

  17. Holy Con, Batman!

    I’d like to see where the profits go, or a balance sheet; anything to justify the money spent. Pity. Used to be conventions were a place to gather with like souls. Not so much now.

    Like Edie said, small conferences are the ticket – the smaller scale is so much more intimate.

  18. You and me both, Kathy. Thousands of people attend RT every year. With this one happening right down the road from Disney, there are bound to be more. That’s a lot of cash. If it were going to a charity or something, I might give it more thought. But as far as I know, it isn’t.

    It is a pity that conferences and conventions seem to only be about the money these days. At least Celebrate Romance was more reader focused and intimate enough that you got to lunch with people and by the end of the 3-day affair, you know faces without bothering to look at the nametags.

  19. I would think reader focused cons would be far more beneficial to writers. But I guess it would depend on your focus…schmoozing with agents/editors, or meeting potential readers.

  20. hahaha I’m with you Marcia. People respond better to real people being real than being “pitched” anyway. And yeah, if I was going to query I’d rather do it in a letter. Otherwise it’s too nervewracking.

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