Want to go to a writing conference this summer but it’s just not in your budget? Before you eat up a steady diet of ramen noodles and pawn your favorite pens trying to scrape together enough cash to pay the registration fee, here’s something you should know: You may be able to go to a writers conference for free. Check this out!
5 Ways To Attend A Writers Conference For Free:
Volunteer for the event. Write to the organizers and ask if you can volunteer in exchange for free registration. If you have a specialty (like proofreading, etc.), you might want to mention it so the organizers will be more tempted to take you up on your offer.
And if your initial request is turned down, pitch a Plan B. Ask for partial admission instead of full admission. For example, you might suggest that in exchange for volunteering, you could attend seminars, but not mealtimes, keynote lectures, or the official after party.
Finally, remember that many writing conferences now record seminars, panels, and lectures so that the groups can sell the recordings digitally on their websites. If volunteering won’t get you into the lectures for free, barter for access to the digital archive instead. You’ll still get the benefits of the lectures even if you miss out on the networking.
Become an event coordinator. To become an event coordinator for a specific writing conference, the path you’ll have to follow might look like this: join the writing association, establish a reputation for being a hard worker, join the committee that puts on the conference, then go to the conference for free.
Why put in so much time and effort? Being a conference organizer puts you in the right place at the right time to mingle with literary VIPs like literary agents, editors, publishers, and famous authors. Plus, you’ll expand the reach of your author brand simply by being a visible presence in front of the writing conference crowd. And you’ll continue to reap the benefits of your work after the writers conference is over.
Offer to be a speaker. Speakers at writing conferences are often admitted for free or for a reduced registration rate (some even have their entire trip comped). That being said, you’ll need to come up with a really, really great pitch to speak at a writing conference. If you’re not famous and can’t lean on your author brand to land you an invitation, be sure to come up with a fresh topic and angle for your writing seminar.
Apply for a scholarship/fellowship. Some creative writing conferences and writer residencies offer scholarships based on merit or financial need. Search the event’s website for information.
Ask. Don’t assume that the writing conference you want to attend offers no alternative means of entry for writers who can’t afford to pay. Contact the organizers and ask if there’s a way to make the conference more affordable/accessible for you. You might just find that the conference organizers are willing to help a writer who is truly passionate in spite of a lack of funds.
Remember: Getting Into A Writers Conference For “Free” Doesn’t Mean You Won’t Have Expenses
Even if organizers are willing to waive the registration fees of a writing conference, that doesn’t mean you won’t be spending money. You might still need to pay for meals, travel, lodging, etc. But here’s some great news: check out these 20 Ways That You Can Save Big Money At A Writing Conference. Plus, we also offer a comprehensive list of writing conferences near you.
QUESTION: What other suggestions do you have for writers on a budget who are hoping to attend a writing conference?
You might be surprised by how few people apply for conference scholarships. These scholarships exist because the writing community wants to help new literary voices develop and come to market. Many are competitive, based on a peice of submitted work. Write more, practice more, and apply again.