It ain’t easy being a writer. And I’m not talking about the hard work, the solitude, the craft—that’s a post for someone else’s blog. I’m talking about the money we want to spend wisely. Namely, the money most of us don’t have.

And this isn’t about the not-enough-to-live-on advances either, or the expenditures of time/money expected when we do sell the book and have arrived. I wanted to bring up the fun stuff, the times we get to come unglued from our computer chairs: conference time.

I’ve been to a few of these, and they’re lots of fun. I come away recharged, newly inspired, and up-to-date on all things publishing. Plenty of reasons to go.

But let’s look at the price tag: $250 for the plane ticket (if you’re lucky), $300 for the conference fee (on average, unless you’re going to Thrillerfest). Then the cab to the hotel—and then there’s The Hotel. Which is usually about $200 a night, because it’s The Hotel, and has a bellhop with better clothes than you, and a $20 breakfast. Three nights sets you back $600.

So we’re already at $1150. Then there’s some souvenirs for the kids, food, a banquet you should really go to that adds $60, and you’re spending $1500. And that’s assuming you still have a pair of conference pants that fit, and something that can pass for a banquet outfit.

For me, this is as much as a family vacation on a budget, or a mortgage payment, or my utility bills for a year. If you look at that price tag, going to a conference seems like a frivolous and selfish expense.

So instead, I’m looking at local events, or online ones, so there’s no hotel, no airfare, and I can drive my own car. I’m already looking at such events next year. Events where I can smile at the bellhop on my way in without my little suitcase, instead of feeling like I have to hand him a tip. And I use Facebook or CrimeSpace to catch up with my faraway writer friends.

Still… I wish I was going to Indy this week, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

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Comment by Benjamin Sobieck on October 20, 2011 at 12:32pm

This post was written two years ago. Have your feelings changed, F.T.?


If you're already a "name," there's value in these big-time events. If you're not, you need the money and paid-time-off for your real job.

Comment by Jack Getze on February 14, 2011 at 11:37am
I am now convinced that the best thing we can do is sit down at the computer and write. Keep writing and keep writing. Maybe something wonderful will come out.
Comment by Lauren Carr on February 28, 2010 at 12:19am
I like the idea of putting together your own local Bookfest. I've gone to a couple of these. If they are well advertised, they can turn out great. I have been to a couple of duds that were poorly organized. At one event at a mall that didn't have good business anyway, a lot of authors left early and mad. Our group of authors outnumbered the customers in the mall! I guess the secret is to make sure the event is well organized and publicized.

But as far as the cost for that local event, I wasn't out anything. My participation was free, no hotel, only the cost of gas to drive across town. I was out a lot less than when I went to Bouchercon last year.

On the cruise: Sign me up for an East Coast version! Sunny, you mentioned that if yours turns out good that your contact would be interested in coming over to my side of the Mississippi! I'm holding you to that! I'll organize it over here!
Comment by Sunny Frazier on February 26, 2010 at 8:08am
When something doesn't exist, create it. I put together a local BookFest and had over 40 authors come and sell. No charge to anyone. I'm trying to work something out with the local mall, they could use the business.

I was also asked to put together a mystery conference at sea. For under $500 a berth (gratuities included) there's a week cruising down the Mexican Riviera, all the great food, the opportunity to sell books to 3,000 passengers and the conference is free. That sure beats sitting around in a hotel for three days and eating stale chips in the hospitality room. Of course, for you that means a flight to Los Angeles where we set sail. But, if intested, the info is at

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