blogger: Cynthia Ruchti
Are there really 50 ways to afford a writers conference when you can’t afford printer ink? Let’s find out.
A writers conference isn’t for everybody. Health or family needs, timing (never works out with the day job), distance, travel difficulties may keep a writer from attending. But many understand the value of attending a conference or multiple conferences, if able. The benefits are many, as have been discussed in previous posts like this one.
CONFERENCE BENEFITS (shortlist):
Interaction with writers a step or two farther along in their journey (or whole stairways farther).
Networking with potential critique partners.
Networking with industry professionals.
The opportunity to discover your writing strengths and weaknesses.
Adding to your knowledge base about the craft of writing, the business of writing, and the publishing industry.
Gaining important information about agents, editors, and publishing houses.
Finding a laser focus for your writing career.
GREAT IDEA. WHAT’S THE QUESTION?
When finances stand in the way, especially for unpublished authors who can’t tap into their trillion dollar book advance (gross exaggeration alert), are we forced to give up hopes of increasing our skill level and advancing our writing career by attending a conference?
Or is it time to pull out the kind of creativity we use for every other aspect of the writing life?
WHERE CREATIVITY COMES IN
50 Ways to Afford a Writers Conference When You Can’t Afford Printer Ink:
- Consider applying for a scholarship. Many conferences offer scholarships. But please note that the decisions about scholarships are often made as much as nine months in advance of the conference.
- If it’s not illegal in your state to sell a kidney, consider that. (My nephew waited ten years for a kidney, so I’m partial to the idea.) If this is the option you choose, allow time for recovery from the surgery and you do know I’m kidding, right?
- Sell something big you either no longer need. Or sell an item you consider worth the trade-off. That snowmobile that hasn’t been out of the storage shed in four years? The collection of Beanie Babies you thought would pay for your kids’ college and post-graduate tuition? Is it time to reconsider their value?
- Sell a bunch of little somethings. Many a conferee has paid at least part of the registration or travel expense with yard sale income. They’ve conducted bake sales and lemonade stands and auctioned their housecleaning or landscaping skills to help raise funds.
AND IF THAT DOESN’T WORK…
5. Consider a smaller conference. If a large conference is out of the question, talk to writer friends about their favorite smaller conferences or retreats. A smaller conference isn’t always a better financial deal, but it might make it doable.
6. Look for one-day conferences and workshops that offer quality writing education.
7. Divide the conference costs by 52 and start setting aside that much money every week for the next year’s conference.
8. Who is your biggest writing cheerleader? Have you pushed aside that person’s offer to help you reach your writing goals? The next time they ask how they can help, suggest contributing to your Writers Conference Fund…and offer to name one of your characters after that person in your first published novel.
9. Make it the only item on your Christmas/Birthday/Anniversary/Valentine’s Day/Mother’s or Father’s Day wish list. When family and friends understand how much it means to you, and that you really will be satisfied foregoing the box of chocolates and wrist corsage (this one year), they may be happy to help make it happen for you.
10. Can you afford the conference recordings if you can’t attend? It’s not the same as being there, but you’ll gain insights and instruction you wouldn’t have without them.
11. Temporarily give up something less important to you–expensive coffee drinks, eating out frequently, buy-with-one-click impulse shopping–to help pad your conference fund.
12. Ask your tax preparer if you can write off the conference expenses. In many cases, the answer is yes. That may at least make it seem more affordable, and boost your opinion of yourself as a legit writer.
13. Consider paying for a conference with earnings from work-for-hire writing–magazine articles, resumes, grant-writing, fundraising materials for a local non-profit…
AND IF NONE OF THAT IS ENOUGH…
14. If you receive a tax refund this year, consider setting some of it aside to pay for next year’s conference.
15. If you can’t afford the full amount to go to a conference this year, consider helping another writer get there. That kind of generosity often shows up on your doorstep in the future from delightfully unexpected sources.
16. Look into a seasonal job (Christmas, harvest) where a short-term commitment can earn you enough to reach your goal. Any inconvenience the job might cost you will be mitigated by the target at which you’re aiming.
17. Start a personal “conference club savings” (like a Christmas club) for yourself through your credit card rewards. Save all cash-back rewards for the year for the purpose of growing your Conference-or-Bust fund.
18. (Added this one because it was the inspiration for the blog and I neglected to include it at first.) If you’re traveling by air and during a layover, the gate agents ask for volunteers to be bumped and take a later flight in exchange for a travel voucher, jump on it, if you can. Use the voucher to cover the flight costs (or most of them) for your trip to a writers conference.