Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Money, Money, Money

It ain’t easy being a writer. And I’m not talking about the hard work, the solitude, the craft—that’s a post for someone else’s blog. I’m talking about the money we want to spend wisely. Namely, the money most of us don’t have.

And this isn’t about the not-enough-to-live-on advances either, or the expenditures of time/money expected when we do sell the book and have arrived. I wanted to bring up the fun stuff, the times we get to come unglued from our computer chairs: conference time.

I’ve been to a few of these, and they’re lots of fun. I come away recharged, newly inspired, and up-to-date on all things publishing. Plenty of reasons to go.

But let’s look at the price tag that comes with a conference: $250 for the plane ticket (if you’re lucky), $300 for the conference fee (on average, unless you’re going to Thrillerfest). Then the cab to the hotel—and then there’s The Hotel. Which is usually about $200 a night, because it’s The Hotel, and has a bellhop with better clothes than you, and a $20 breakfast. Three nights sets you back $600.

So we’re already at $1150. Then there’s some souvenirs for the kids, food, a banquet you should really go to that adds $60, and you’re spending $1500. And that’s assuming you still have a pair of conference pants that fit, and something that can pass for a banquet outfit.

For me, this is as much as a family vacation on a budget, or a mortgage payment, or my utility bills for a year. If you look at that price tag, going to a conference seems like a frivolous and selfish expense.

So instead, I’m looking at local events, or online ones, so there’s no hotel, no airfare, and I can drive my own car. I’m already looking at such events next year. Events where I can smile at the bellhop on my way in without my little suitcase, instead of feeling like I have to hand him a tip. And I use Facebook or CrimeSpace to catch up with my faraway writer friends.

Still… I wish I was going to Indy this week, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.


  1. Another big caveat; general writer's conferences (PNWC/Seattle; Willamette/Portland; or Surrey/BC in my area) vs. genre-specific conventions such as Bouchercon (Mystery) or World Fantasy (SF/Fantasy). The general conferences usually afford you more opportunity to meet agents and editors, while the genre conventions offer much better networking opportunities. You can save some money by driving to a con in a close by city and just going in to pitch to agents/editors for the day. Even so, these tend to cost upwards of $300 for membership/pitch opportunities. Just my 2 cents. - db

  2. I like the fancons best, since I'm not paying to pitch to someone who's not all that interested anyway :-) You're right: those writers cons are pricey.

    I noticed there are a few events in my area realated to teen books (YALSA, and another teen read event) next year that are within driving distance, and don't cost so much.

    Still like LCC though, but will have to wait for it to get a little closer to me again.

  3. We're going because we can drive there, not staying the whole time, because it counts as a visit with my kid (okay only a lunch). I notice at B'COn, there are as many if not more writers than fans. I guess that says something.

  4. LCC Denver was that way too: more writers than fans. Not sure what to make of that...


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