Conference Season

- by Pati Nagle

Gee, Karen’s post about packing got me thinking about travel.

It’s a complete illusion, but I always feel like summer and autumn are conference season.  Maybe it’s because my local science fiction convention is always in August.  So is Worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention.  RWA National is in July (this year will be my first time attending).  World Fantasy Con is usually around Halloween, and marks the “end” of the season in my thinking.

Yet there are events year round.  A quick check of the Ninc website’s Members area shows a long list of industry events including BookExpo and Library Association events all over the country and the world.  Just within the Science Fiction and Fantasy community there are events every single weekend.  Then there are the Mystery events, the Romance events, big media events like ComiCon, national/regional/local. Writer-focused events, like the Ninc Conference, and reader-focused extravaganzas like Romantic Times.

Assuming one wants to go to such events, how does one choose?

Step one, examine your reasons for going, such as:

- Promoting your work

- Networking with other professionals (editors, agents, etc.)

- Education, either about the industry or about writing craft

- Socializing

Prioritize them, then compare them to the events you’re considering.  For example, good events for promoting your work are those where a lot of readers will be present, e.g., Worldcon as opposed to World Fantasy Con (which is better for networking). Do a little research on events you haven’t been to before.  Make a short list that fits your interests, and sort them in order of how strongly you want to go.

Step two, examine the costs.  For each event you’re considering, do a quick cost estimate.  Include:

- Travel (trains, planes, automobiles)

- Lodging

- Food

- Conference registration

- Incidentals

- Time away from work (this is one we often forget to consider, but it’s a true cost)

Prioritize your events list on the basis of affordability, then compare that to your first list.  Do any events show up near the top of both lists?  Those will probably give you the best bang for buck.

If you’re like me, your travel budget isn’t huge, so you’ll have to pick and choose.  This year I’m going to RWA National (hits three of the purposes:  education, networking and promotion), the Ninc Conference (education and networking), and a professional level writers workshop (education), plus my local SF con (promotion, socializing) because it’s inexpensive.

As you can see, education is a strong priority for me.  You may have a different agenda.  Whatever that may be, I wish you a conference season that’s enlightening, energizing, and satisfying.

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