Conference On A Budget – How To Prioritize Conference Expenses Part 1

As an unpublished writer I am very familiar with pocket lint. You know, the stuff that you feel around the hole in the bottom of your pocket for all of the workshops and expenses of learning the craft. Not to mention, vacation time, marketing supplies, printer paper…

Yep, we’re a broke lot. Broke and happy to sacrifice that extra meal out for a craft book or writing opportunity. Writing involves a definite dash of crazy, but I’m not complaining. I love being a writer.

Until the moment when we all hit the best seller list, we must prioritize our expenses for a conference. For the convenience of those attending the American Christian Fiction Writers In Dallas, I will use dollar amounts that are reflective of that conference. The formula can be used for other conferences.

 Preparation Requirements:

*Business Cards- Vista Print is having a sale on 250 business cards for $10. (250 is more than enough for a conference)

*In Color 5 One-sheets – Notice I said only 5? Bring your flashdrive. There will be a business center where you are going in case of an emergency, but you don’t tend to give out more than 5 at a conference. If you need more, you can always print them there. Also it won’t sink the bank if you get to conference and notice a typo. You can reprint without already having spent a lot of money.

*Two Copies Of Your Proposal with 3 sample chapters- Only two, because even though you have an editor/agent appointment, most of them do not take a proposal with them. Once again, you can print more in the hotel business center if necessary.

*Business Casual Clothing. This is a moment to step out of your dated clothing into something that shows you take your writing career seriously. You don’t have to break the bank to pull of a business casual look. If you are budget crunched, look for mix and match opportunities with classic colors. Plan to wear your best of choices on your appointment day. Friday and Saturday are the most important wardrobe days because they are the longest and involve the most interaction with editors/agents/industry experts.

*Banquet Dressy Outfit. You might be able to get by here with an outfit you wore in someone’s wedding or hit a consignment shop for prom or wedding type apparel. Some people go formal, some go just high end church dressy. It is up to you, just don’t stand out like a sore thumb in your jeans.

These preparation expenses are really necessary to have a successful conference. If you are on a super tight budget, you cut some corners to make your wardrobe less expensive without looking like you just stepped out of the gym. Here is a general estimate of these expenses:

Business Cards                                  $10

Business Printing                             $20 (One- Sheets and Proposals. May be less.)

Business Casual Clothing              $30-200

Banquet Dressy Outfit                    $20 and up

The most important thing in all of these required budget expenditures is to set a realistic budget and stick to it. Do your best to look professional.

Tomorrow we will look at the expenses during the conference. Wednesday we will talk about extra things you may want to prepare for a conference after having budgeted for what is required. Then you can determine if they fit inside your budget.

We want to be a resource for each other. Where have you found ways to save money on conference prep and what links might be helpful?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

6 thoughts on “Conference On A Budget – How To Prioritize Conference Expenses Part 1

  1. Thanks for the practical advice & tips, Michelle! I have a question about business cards. Do you put your picture on them? What information do you include? Thank you!

    • Michelle Lim says:

      Hi, Gabrielle. Sorry I didn’t get to your message yesterday. I was away from my computer. Yes, definitely put your picture on the business card. All of your basic contact information. One thing I did learn is not to put one book title on your business card unless you want to get new cards again next year. Because you will be pitching something new probably. Some people solve this by printing out labels with their current title and sticking it on the back of their business card. Definitely be sure to have a snazzy graphic. You can get templates from most of the places.

  2. Great advice, Michelle. A comment on Gabrielle’s comment: I have my photo on my cards–it’s a great way for an editor to remember you.

    As for clothes, I use to wear business casual every day, and I never get rid of anything. lol. I just raid my closet.

    • Michelle Lim says:

      Thanks. Great that you have a wonderful reserve of clothing, Pat. I often have my Mommy around the house clothes and then church type clothes. I have to invest in conference clothes some of the time.

  3. Great tips, Michelle! This will be my first time at ACFW and I’m SO excited! I’m scrambling to get everything ready in time. 🙂

    Also, is having a sale on business cards right now. I think it’s 50% off with the code SBusiness. They have some really cool templates that you can customize.

    • Michelle Lim says:

      So glad you will make the ACFW conference this year, Susan. Hope to see you there! Thanks for the tip on inkgarden. It is always helpful to have lots of possible resources.

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