Monday, February 3, 2014
Conference Season Is Upon Us
Years ago, it seemed like conferences happened mainly in the summer, but perhaps as a beginning writer I just didn't have so many of them on my radar. Now that I have access to a larger network of writers and industry folk through social media, it seems like there are cons (both conferences and conventions) going on every week of the year.
And let's face it, as much as we'd like to go to every single con that comes our way, it's just not practical for financial and time-management reasons. So how can you balance the pros and cons (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) and find events that work for you?
If you have your heart set on a specific con but can't afford all the expenses, there may be options to help. If you are able to volunteer, there are often significant discounts in store for you (registration, parking, food, etc). But this doesn't mean you volunteer to man a table for an hour and then blow off other commitments, while expecting to get free admission (or free stuff)--most cons live or die by their volunteers, and you are genuinely a necessary cog in the machine.
Also, many workshops and cons offer scholarships. You may have to do some digging on the websites, because they're often not on the "front page", but there are funds available to those in need. One of the most extensive portfolios of scholarships I've seen recently is for the Clarion West Writer's Workshop. Regional chapters of national organizations, such as the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and Romance Writers of America, sometimes offer grants and scholarships for their national conferences too.
When I plan which cons I want to attend for the year, I try to keep "Return on Investment" in mind. If a favorite writer or speaker appears on the program, I'll certainly take a closer look and see if there are enough other opportunities to learn something, and meet new (and old) writer friends in person, to justify my time and money. The good news is that with so many different cons out there, some with a wide focus and some with a very narrow focus, that there is genuinely something for everyone.
My post on February 17th will list some places to find out about cons, and some that you might want to check out. Come back and see, and if you have a favorite writing or fan event and want to get it in the list, feel free to email it to me at strikingnotes (at) yahoo (dot com). Thanks!