As we continue our post on conventions, we would be remiss if we didn't include a budgeting post. And by we, I mean me. Sorry. I've been watching The Crown. But yes, unfortunately, it's not free lots of times when we invest in our writing. The good news is this: If you are a writer, these expenses are tax deductible against your business.
Occasionally, and especially if you become someone who is invited as a guest to a convention, or a speaker, you can get fees eliminated, if not have the whole con paid for. That said, most of the time as a beginning author, you will be paying the bill. It never hurts to ask if you can get assistance. The worst that can happen is someone will say no, and yes, you're used to that!!!
I always think it's worth it to check out the cons near you. You might be able to attend a local con for just the cost of the con. For example, I could attend Icon and commute back and forth from my home. That would mean that the cost of the con and the cost of food would make the con very cheap. I would do that if I weren't hosting a writing workshop, by the way.
So, let me break down a few costs, so you can take a look.
A Nearby Con that you can drive to: I drive to conventions in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Minneapolis, and Chicago, and potentially the range of cons I could drive to include Omaha, Kansas City, and St. Louis. It's vaguely about 50 cents or so for mile traveled in your car for reimbursement. Hotel, food, and the convention membership are the biggest expenses. Depending on the convention and the cost of the hotel, I might pay $500 for a 2-night/3-day inexpensive, nearby convention. I might pay $800 for a 3-night/4-day convention. Usually, this kind of con is a good investment. You can make this kind of con less expensive by staying at a friend's house, or sharing with a roommate, because hotel is usually the biggest expense.
Flying to a convention: The above convention price is pretty much the same, plus an air ticket. I live in Cedar Rapids, so some tickets might be more expensive for me than you, if you were catching a Southwest connection. In general, I pay around $400-$800 a ticket, depending on distance, access, and connections.
Ergo, the average convention will cost me
Transportation: Car or Airfare
and run me about $500 for a very local affair when I stay at home all the up to about $1800 for a convention I fly to for a few days.
Are conventions worth it? Lots of opinions there. I would say yes, because you can introduce yourself in fandom and present yourself well. If you can pair the convention with some book signings, all the better. A little more bang for your buck and stretching of your travel dollar.
Next week: I will talk about conventions and promoting your book! Like I know so much about this...but I'm going to tell you what I've seen and what seems to work for other authors I know. Hint: having a unique give away seems to be key...