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?