COULD YOU PLAN YOUR OWN WRITERS’ CONFERENCE?

Well, why not?  Recently several much-loved mid-sized writers conferences in the mid-USA have closed.  So why not plan one to fill in the gap.  ARE YOU READY?

Here is one example you might consider:

Fiction Writing Conference.  Cape Cod, August 11-12, 2012.  (Nah, too far away from center USA. But–a really appealing location, so . . . .)

Main Conference:  August 11-12.  Registration:  $1,295.  Continental bkfst. included.  Hotel,  at special rate, $210 per night.

Add on sessions (with personal attention) August 9 and 10, from $495.00 to $1,995 each.

Surprised at the rates?   I sure was.  (Maybe I’m naive?)  But then, though this conference schedule looks an awful lot like the many conferences I have attended over the years, there is a difference.  It’s designed for physicians and lawyers who want to write novels–especially thrillers and mysteries.  “And,” my brother-in-law the lawyer says, “they’re probably charging what they know the attendees can pay.”  Why not luxury?

Moving on:

Mid-summer conference in Texas.  Registration? $75.00 for  each writer, $35.00 for spouse.  One day, Saturday, with possible add-ons Friday and Sunday. Meet and Greet Dinner Friday night, $30.00 extra.  Special hotel rate, $89.00. Full breakfast furnished, including made-to-order omelets.

Which conference would you like to plan?  Which one would you attend?  Both have speakers, the Cape Cod one bigger names.  Both have a few panels. Both have agents to take pitches.   Gosh.  Could you do it?  Whoooeee, not me!  I’ve been in on the planning for one writers’ conference and you-have-no-idea what is required.  We had a committee, a whole organization board, in on the planning.  Consider a moment:  meeting rooms, deals with hotel, services, including water and coffee for guests, meals?, speakers? paying transportation for speakers, and, usually, honorariums. Panels?  Who?      Yes, you’ve got to cover every detail including being sure, (if you have coffee), that cream and sugar and sweetener are on the table, up to who is going to pick up Miss Big Name Speaker at the airport?

And, of course, you need to assure there are enough attendees to cover all expenses.  Simply put, we couldn’t do it.  We cancelled the conference.

But, maybe not knowing about all the problems he would have to tackle, a daring man in Denton, Texas, jumped into the shark pool.  He wanted to have a conference and, by gum, he did!  He had no committee.  He had only himself.  Though he is a full-time building contractor specializing in home remodels, he is also an author, with one published novel thus far. And, he is in love with writing.  So, assisted at times by his wife Ranay, Mitch Haynes set out to offer  his conference:   LexiCon.

Initially several hundred people signed up, though in the end, something around 125 actually paid and attended.  You can perhaps imagine a tiny bit of all the details Mitch had to cover.  He got his hotel.  (Two, in fact, next door neighbors.)  One hotel hosted all conference meetings.  He signed up speakers, including book packagers, a press or two, (subsidy, I think) a couple of agents, a publicist, and several experienced writers.  True, Random House didn’t come, or even any mid-sized royalty presses. (Maybe next year.)  And what may have seemed lacking in big names–the head-held-high above the crowd folks–this conference made up for in good old friendly enthusiasm.

Mitch told us, in his welcoming talk  Saturday morning, that this was a conference with a difference.  We were to support each other.  We were friends, and not just there to sell our own books.  We were advocates for each others’ books.  No egos, no various degrees of success, and definitely no “I’m better than you are” folks.  At this conference, all were to hold out the hand of sharing and support, of appreciation and networking.

Mitch made his dream plain, and, y’know, his very enthusiasm and, perhaps, innocence, almost brought tears to my eyes during his opening speech.  Most certainly,  LexiCon was not to be like other conferences.  Though he didn’t say it, I thought of brotherhood (and sisterhood, of course) and simple friendliness.  Reminded me of an “Up With People” event I attended many, many years ago.

Well, I’d advise Mitch to hold on to his dream, and continue to make LexiCon the conference with Mitch Haynes’ special stamp–the little conference with a big difference.

Of course there were a few stumbles along the way.  After all, at the conference, Mitch, his wife, his young daughter Crystal and her friend Kayla were the staff.  Crystal and Kayla monitored the check-in table, handed out badges and conference folders.  Mitch, assisted by Ranay,  did all the rest.  Who cares about stumbles, especially when you’re together as one big family made up of all types of authors.  In fact, any blips probably only added to the family ambiance of the event. Nothing actually harmed the enthusiasm or good information shared during the day.  (There were four tracks of speakers to monitor, by the way–and hard choices as to what to attend.)

During the conference, Mitch and Ranay were everywhere, getting water for guests, checking air-conditioning in every room every hour, monitoring the bookstore they’d set up for published authors (they only kept 10% of retail price) and nine gazillion other things, large and small.

I’m glad I went.    http://Lexi-ConWritersConference.com     Get ready for next year.

http://www.RadinesBooks.com

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6 Responses to “COULD YOU PLAN YOUR OWN WRITERS’ CONFERENCE?”

  1. bill011942 Says:

    Writers have to make choices simply because we don’t have a lot of money to throw around. I was skeptical of Lexicon. Yet, after attending, I came away a believer.

    • radine Says:

      Uh-huh Bill, that’s it. In spite of the fact many of our favorite conferences and conventions have closed, there are still enough in existence that choices have to be made. This hot summer it was LexiCon or Killer Nashville. KN is a well-run, large, and profitable event we have enjoyed for the past few years. But this year we decided to be adventurous, and are glad we did.

  2. terrysthoughtsandthreads Says:

    What a wonderful dream come true for Mitch and his family! It sounds like a huge undertaking, but when taken step by step, with the enjoyment of fulfilling a goal supported by those who love him, Mitch achieved more than a conference. He has established himself as a writer in the true sense of the word: one who shares his thoughts and perceptions with others. Bravo, Mitch! I loved reading Radine’s rendition of your accomplishment.

    Come visit me(and my books and quilts) in my neck of the Eastern Woodlands:
    http://www.beyondoldwindows.com
    Or find me at my newer blog:
    http://terrysthoughtsandthreads.blogspot.com

  3. Mitch Haynes Says:

    Thank you, Radine, for the very kind words and the wonderful review. Only one tiny, little fact is wrong. We didn’t keep any of the money from the book store. It all went back to the writers.

    • radine Says:

      Oh my goodness, Mitch. I got the 10% from conference publicity earlier and didn’t know it had changed. Sorry. I know you built the bookstore, its shelves, and colorful walls yourself, I saw you putting it together Friday, so that was some gift to attending published authors! Thanks from those authors. (I sold books from my table so didn’t know the bookstore business plan.)

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