It’s Conference Time! Um…Okay.

Every year around this time, someone will bring up the illusion that you’re not serious about writing unless you go to RWA Nationals.  That jug head usually gets a slew of responses from writers who are happy to e-roast the moron to ashes. 

But this post isn’t about RWA.  It’s about conferences in general.  As Nina Pierce asked in her blog, are they worth it?  Whether it’s RWA, RT, or anyone else for that matter who’s hosting, for me, I can honestly say no. It’s not.

Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? For the average big conference where there are around 2000 people, you can expect to spend about $2000. Funny how that math works, right?  But think about it.  If you have to fly, pay for hotel costs, food (because they rarely give you anything, assuming you can choke it down), and the registration fees.  For these reason alone, I’ve decided to start investing more in the cons (ConCarolinas and StellarCon for now) that are in my neck of the North Carolina woods.  Not to mention, this is my home.  This is the place where I can make a mark that can stretch elsewhere.  There’s little traveling fees, which leaves me only the hotel and food to worry about.  And if you want to talk registration, paying less than $40 for an entire weekend isn’t bad.  Oh, and did I mention that there are really worthwhile writer’s panels that just get better and better every year?

The main reason why a lot of people go to is to network, meet their favorite authors, and to pitch to an editor or agent.  First, you can network online.  Second, I’d rather spend ~$500 on their books than to spend it shaking their hands.  Third, you can pitch to an editor or agent in a query letter for a lot cheaper…and still get the rejection that’s meant for only you.  A face-to-face meeting isn’t going to change whether they like your book or not.  The story has to stand on its own.  And chances are, most editors and agents have found a huge percentage of their clients via regular, old query anyway.

Now don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t a post to bash anyone in particular.  It’s a post about the honest reality and cost of going to conference.  They’re great!  Seriously.  That’s why I’m getting my one and only “writer” conference on by going to Moonlight & Magnolias in October.  But with the ways things are shaping out, it might be the only “writer” conference I attend annually.  It’s one of the cheaper ones that I can actually drive to in six hours.  RWA Nationals isn’t going to happen for me until possibly–I’m about 50% sure at this point and easily swayed in either direction–is in 2013.  RT might happen for me in 2012, if New Orleans becomes to “official” host city.  As you can see, that’s planned way out.  At the price of these things, it needs to be. 

In the mean time, I’m sticking to my NC conferences.  If anyone knows of any in South Carolina or Virginia, I can be talked into venturing out.  😉

Which conferences do you find worthwhile and why?


9 thoughts on “It’s Conference Time! Um…Okay.

  1. You know, with all the twitter talk I was feeling like I was missing out on the RWA conference this year, but I think you’re right. At the bigger conferences, you spend way too much money and have limited interaction with the people you’re really there to see, the agents, editors, and publishers.

    I think I’ve let JT talk me into the Retreat up here in DC next year. Smaller scale and you DO get a chance to interact with others more closely.

    I’ve been meeting great people online lately, via Twitter, FaceBook and the online chapters/forums. Well, that and continuously perfecting the art of creating a good story.

    (Although, I am glad Jen introduced us AT the RWA conference!)

    • Although, I am glad Jen introduced us AT the RWA conference!)

      Tee hee. So true. This is the one thing I LOVE about conference time. There are always new, cool friends to make. 😀

      You know, I’ve been thinking about that retreat. It sounds like so much fun when I read about it on her blog. Not to mention, hanging out with JT is always a hoot and a half.

      With everyone talking about RWA, I was sort of missing it, too. Or at least hanging out with the wonderful friends that I knew would be there. But in the end, it’s about the money. RWA is watching theirs come in and I need to watch mine going out. The two extremes aren’t connecting for me right now.

  2. It’s a no brainer for me. I just don’t have an extra $2000 sitting around to spend on the bigger conferences. I think the smaller conferences offer more opportunity to network and meet people in the writing field. Also, staying local, you are more likely to maintain those connections. (And meet and keep friends)

    The one an only Con I attended, I met up with you, got to see David Coe, Missy Masey (Magical Words) and attend panels that were small enough that you didn’t have a problem getting your questions answered. It was a much better learning experience. I was a bit shy. I don’t think I asked one question on your panel Marcia.

    Until I hit the New York Best Seller list (I know, but it’s my big dream) I will continue attending the smaller Conferences. I find them more productive. I think attending the RWA is for the big dogs who have the backing of one of the top publishers.

    • I think the smaller conferences offer more opportunity to network and meet people in the writing field.

      This is the main reason why I LOVE the smaller conferences. Sure, you want to mix and mingle and feel the awe of excitement at a large conference. But in the end, I tend to run into more people and remember more names and faces when it’s on the smaller scale.

      I so hope you get to go to ConCarolinas next year. I’ll definitely be there. And if that’s too far, there’s always StellarCon in High Point. This will be the first time I attend that one, but I can tell by the guest list that it’ll be a ton of fun.

      I think attending the RWA is for the big dogs who have the backing of one of the top publishers.

      So true. I’d like to extrapolate on that point, but this is a public forum. One of these days, we need to get together and do some serious talking on that topic. 😉

  3. You know I’ve never attended a conference, so I can’t give a logical explanation as to why the many will spend two grand to attend the RWA. The reason I haven’t attended any conferences is basically because most are romance-genre oriented. I don’t write it and have only read three romance novels. Liked two; choked down the other.

    Jut not my cuppa…

    But if I did have the bucks, I’d definitely attend the Maui Writers Conference. It’s multi-genre and apparently has excellent workshops. Not a rah-rah fest that resembles a Tupperware convention. 😉 (Not intended as a bash – I have never been one to attend ANYthing with that much estrogen in the air.)

    • 😆 After looking at the list of RITA winners, I’m betting they blew the plastic out of the Tupperware with their rounds of applause. After all, Harlequin took home most of the honors. No surprise there.

      Never will I pay $2000 to go to ANY conference. A thousand is too much, but that’s my limit. The part that kills me is organizers increase the price of registration every year while ignoring the fact that many have either lost their jobs or haven’t seen a salary raise in years. If I go to any more conventions with a $400+ registration fee, I’ll be going registration-less and have my own “conference” at the bar.

        • Yup. Since then, they’ve decided to do what I thought–and blogged about–what they should’ve done a long time ago. They’re FINALLY looking at publishers on the imprint level. That way, they can let Harlequin’s Carina Press go while tossing DelleArte to the curb.

  4. Marcia, I met you at the Dallas RWA conference! I wonder if we would have become good friends otherwise.

    I still feel on a high from the conference. It was pretty good.

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