Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Writing Conference ROI

Recently, I spent a few days at the OWFI writer's conference in Oklahoma City. As I was gathering my receipts and such, I thought about the best ways to make sure that money wasn't wasted. The next few posts will focus on The Writer's ROI (Return On Investment).

Travel expenses, Conference Fees, Hotel Fees, Food and Drink. It all adds up. Go ahead, add it up.* 

Let's say you spent $1000. Sure, you are treating your writer self, and you want to feel like you are "getting away from it all". For example, if I would have been more of an early bird this weekend, I would have loved to splurge and take advantage of the fresh-made omelet bar every morning (and maybe even a danish or two, or oooo--biscuits AND gravy). But I was there to learn about writing and marketing. I couldn't miss a session because I was waiting in line for someone to cook for me. A portion of my conference fees would be wasted! And yes, the breakfast is built in to the hotel room price, so I still made sure to take advantage. Both my waistline and my frugal sensibilities were served by a nice bowl of oatmeal (real stuff, not that 'just add water' nonsense!) and some fruit.

Would you withdraw $1000 from your bank account and drop the bills off of a bridge? Of course not (if you would, I have a bridge close to my house I would like to suggest). So, make sure that you treat the money spent on your writing self as an investment, and not just a splurge.

Splurge Mentality: "I just want to relax."
Excuse Editor Tip: Your conference is a Working Vacation
Your main goals are related to All Things Writing. You want to learn or relearn aspects of the craft. You want to network with others who can help you advance your writing and/or your writing career. You want to gain inspiration to kick-start your work if it's been lagging of late. It's not just about happy hour. It's about the people you talk to while you are sipping your drink that you may not get a chance to meet at other networking events: working writers, agents, publishers. Writing is a lonely profession?! I think not-- you are in a whole room of people on the same journey. Absorb.

Yes, it is about working on your writing, but it's also about socializing. What better way to remind yourself how great it is to be a writer than by hanging out with other writers? It's "work", but you don't need to focus on that part of it. It's also about connecting. As people. The successes and failures shared between handfuls of free popcorn become kernels of inspiration for your writing life. Enjoy.

Back to that $1000. How can you take full advantage of your conference before, during and after? Can you recoup your costs? Are you at least getting your money's worth? I'll give a few tips about maximizing your conference investment in the next few blog posts.

Until then, I have a deadline! Do you? (If not, sign up for my newsletter and get about 30 to choose from.)

*You should be keeping track of your expenses anyway; if you are a working writer, you will need all of that information when you file your tax returns.


  1. Great advice--we need to glean all we can from the conferences we go to :-) I know they've been good experiences for me. And you're so right about hanging out with other writers, they're the people who understand us the most, right? I especially liked your line: "The successes and failures shared between handfuls of free popcorn become kernels of inspiration..." I know I always come away pumped up and raring to go!

  2. Ohh, that breakfast bar was soooo good. I did stand in line, but I got up early to do it so I didn't miss the start of the session.

    I also met so many wonderful people. Looking forward to next year.


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