Thursday, February 7, 2008

Why Attend a Writer's Conference?

Organizing Your Writing Life

I set a goal to get out of debt, so I could focus on writing—unhindered by financial stress. As a single mom, I spent far too many stressful years paying a monthly budget every month and a half. Not fun. To give me more writing time, I signed up for electronic withdrawal. Now my bills are paid automatically. Painless.

Last year some friends and I agreed to attend a writer’s conference in the fall. As the time neared, I realized there was no way I could squeeze one cent from my budget. After committing every penny of my paycheck to debt reduction, my house, car and teeth started falling apart:

Month 1: The dishwasher conked out. Cost? Minimum $250 if I install it myself.
Month 2: A crown on a molar broke. Cost? Minimum $1000 buckaroos. Superglue will not work.
Month 3: The oven burned out. Cost? $250 to replace burners.
Month 4: My front tooth chipped in two places. Cost? $150+
Month 5: My car broke down. Cost? $800+

Can I Afford Not to Attend?
When Beth mentioned attending Writing for the Soul, $800 was nowhere to be found in my budget. Plus, it did not fit on my financial get-out-of-debt calendar. Next year might be doable.

Then I thought, For too many years I’ve said, ‘I can’t afford to attend a writer’s conference.’ I need to invest in my future. If I could sell some articles or received a book contract, the advance would more than cover my investment in my writing.

So…I left the car at the shop, extended my date to get out of debt and practiced smiling and talking to hide my humiliating snaggle tooth. The result? I—

  • asked editors what writing holes they see in the market.
  • discovered new writing markets.
  • received invaluable feedback from editors.
  • obtained editor contact information.
  • found out what topics about which I write interested which publishers.
  • gave my pitch sheets to interested editors.
  • met and encouraged other writers.
  • learned invaluable information for marketing my writing.
  • discovered new ‘stuff’ to hone my writing.

Writing that has been languishing in my computer may find a new home—publication.

At the end of the conference, I cried. I was grateful for the doors God may be opening. Beth, Tiffany and I happy danced together. The dance is over and the work has begun: We are madly writing articles, book proposals, critiquing, and polishing sample chapters to submit.



Donna said...

Yes, and you can use the cost of the conference as a tax deduction (business expense) if you are actually making money writing!

Beth K. Vogt said...

There is nothing--nothing--more delightful than seeing the success of your writing comrades. Scoti and Tiffany were both hits at the conference. One agent looked at Scoti and said, "I don't know where to start with you." She was overwhelmed with the four book ideas that Scoti had just pitched to her.
Let the writing and the publishing and the contracts begin!!

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