Wednesday I posted about not being able to attend every conference or writing event I want to attend. To read more, scroll to the previous post.
I don’t know how you do it, but this is how I decide on where my time and money will be best spent:
1. Location. How far do I have to travel, and how long will it take me to do that, and how much will it cost?
a. If I need a plane ticket and hotel room, I need to really weigh those costs, along with the conference price.
b. Is there an upcoming conference or event that might offer similar classes or opportunities that will perhaps cost less?
c. Will I be able to continue writing while I travel, or will I spend 6 hours driving? And is it worth going if that’s the case?
2. What will I get out of this conference/activity?
a. Sometimes I go strictly for social reasons or to support other authors or organizations—and that’s perfectly okay. It doesn’t all have to be about learning or pitching or work-shopping. But…
b. Will I learn something new or find assistance with the thing on which I need the most help? (This could be writing, marketing, formatting, pitching, querying, self promotion, blogging, online networking, publishing, etc.) OR…
c. Am I going to connect with other people in my profession? If so, is this event going to be well attended or intimate?
3. What will I have to give up to participate?
a. A couple years ago, I skipped a great conference because my daughter had been invited (at the last minute) to participate in an out of town soccer tournament, and I didn’t want to send her alone. To me, her tournament was more important. I know others who have left conferences for karate tournaments, birthday parties, etc. I think it’s important that we know our priorities, and not compromise them. There will always be another activity or conference.
4. Who will be part of this event?
a. Are the instructors people whose classes you have attended three times already, or are you going to learn from someone new?
b. Are you going to support a friend or to meet new people?
c. Will you hide in the bathroom or branch out and socialize? (If you’d rather hide out, you should be going to a more intimate conference, IMO.)
d. Is an agent or editor to whom you’d like to pitch or who you’d like to meet going to be present? What about an author? Other type of instructor?
e. Are you going for academic or social reasons? (Either is okay, so long as you know what’s important to you.)
5. What is included in the price?
a. Will you have meals included or is that another expense? Are you expected to pack a lunch or will they offer snacks for purchase? What kind of time will you have should you choose to go out?
b. Does it cost more to pitch? To workshop? To attend a social event?
c. Are these things that matter to you?
6. Word of mouth. Who is talking about this conference and why?
a. Because seriously, the best conferences get talked about. By everyone. You know it’s worth going when that’s ALL anyone can discuss during a three day period or whatever. Does that mean you need to suck it up and spend the money? Not always. See the above list and think about those first.
7. Finally: Are you going to regret not going?
a. Meaningless analogy: I once told a friend if I can find a piece of jewelry that I think I love, but then walk away from it, and have forgotten it an hour later, it wouldn’t have been a good purchase.
b. Apply this way of thinking to conferences: If you think you love a conference, but can miss it without a bucket of regret a few days later, you probably didn’t miss as much as you think you did. And if you do regret it, plan to go the next year, since the best conferences tend to come around annually.
8. One last thought: I’ve never gone to a conference/activity/workshop from which I didn’t gain SOMETHING important. Ever. So if you can afford to attend everything, and can physically handle it AND keep writing AND keep up with your family, friends, etc, then do it. Seriously. What do you have to lose?
And there you have it. Eight things to consider when you’re building your personal writing investment portfolio.
Today’s question: Which events are you attending this year? Why?