Attending a writers conference: the hidden costs

A note from Susie May: Alena Tauriainen is one of my favorite aspiring authors – she’s a hard worker, creative and has a heart to press on in this journey. She is also the MBT Retreats Hostess and writes a series for the MBT Blog called, “The Next Step,” about the small steps an aspiring author makes every day that add up to a finished novel. I asked her to blog today on her perspective on attending a writers conferences when you’re early in the journey. Thank you, Alena!


Many of my writing friends told me attending a writing conference was the next step on my writing journey.

I shrugged them off.

After all, I was learning to schedule time in to write, reading blogs and other various articles to get better at the craft of writing. Did I really need to attend a conference?

On a lark I went to the ACFW page to find out just some basic information about their conference.  Just to see.

But when I saw how much it cost, that cinched it. I didn’t think the airline would accept an IOU and I’m pretty certain ACFW wouldn’t either.

My day job is a bookkeeper for the family business so I need to know exactly how much something is going to cost before I commit. Who wants to show up somewhere and not have enough money?

Most people attending a conference for the first time don’t include all of the costs because they don’t know what those costs may be. Just getting there is not enough; you must be prepared when you go. It’s so much more than just the registration fee and the airlines.

Some hidden costs to look for when you attend a conference:

  • Extra meals and tips. You need to bring ones to tip the shuttle drivers, hotel staff and taxi drivers.
  • Starbucks coffee or tea, soda. You’ll spend time “out of conference” talking to peers, agents and editors, so bring along enough money to pay for your coffee – and maybe theirs too!
  • Snacks. Although you’ll eat at a conference, you may want those late night munchies.
  • Learning Materials / Book Purchases/ CDs-MP3s. You may attend the class of a speaker whose book you must have. Sometimes these books are difficult to find after the conference.

Recently, the staff at MBT worked to produce The Truth About Conferences. This book explains every aspect of attending a conference from budgeting for a conference to pitching and networking after the conference. I highly recommend this read before you attend a conference. It will help make sure you get the most out of the investment!

I did make it to ACFW, but I attended a MBT Retreat first to get my feet wet and that helped. I hope to see you at the MBT Booth at ACFW in Dallas next week!


Alena Tauriainen



Use Social Media to Get More Out of Your Next Event

I know from the emails and blog comments I get that many of you have taken the jump into social networking. Today I’d like to share some thoughts about how social media can help with your brick-and-morter events, like a book launch or book signing.

Often times we revert to traditional channels to advertise these events and miss some of the advantages social networking can give us. Don’t give up the traditional avenues, but add some of these ideas to increase your next event’s visibility.

One of the benefits to social media is that you can identify people with similar interests. You can do this several ways.

  • Hashtags on Twitter. A hashtag is a number sign (#) in front of a word or groups of letters. This makes the tweet searchable throughout the Twitter universe.
    For example, if I want to see what’s happening on Twitter with writing I can search for #write or #amwriting. Both of these are popular Twitter hashtags. If you’re still not certain what I’m talking about, here’s a post to help you get started.

You can do a Google search of popular hashtags for different industries of topics to find those relevant to your subject.

  • Facebook groups. Many areas have Facebook groups or pages that pertain to geographic area. This is a great place to post local happenings and events.
  • LinkedIn events. You can also post industry news to your LinkedIn profile.

You can also find local people on Twitter and Facebook and ask them to help publicize your event. In addition, you can announce your event on your Twitter and Facebook accounts and even though some of your friends and followers aren’t local, they often have friends who are.

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. In keeping up with the leading edge of all things digital Edie has become known as one of the go-to experts on Twitter, Facebook, and social media for writers wanting to learn how to plug in. Her bestselling eBook on this subject, Social Media Marketing for Writers, is available on Kindle and Nook.

Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home, is Edie’s latest project. This devotional book for those with family members in the military debuted on Veterans Day, 2011.

Married 30 years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons. Media Marketing for Writers, is available on Kindle and Nook.


What Comes Before Editing: Planning the Work & Working the Plan

With the nickname of  The Evil  Editor (TEE) – said with affection, remember! –I bet you think I’m all about editing.

Not true.

I’m also a writer.

Which means I’m also about writing.

But even before the writing, which comes before the editing, I’m about planning. I can see all you  seat-of-the-pantsers (SOTPs) out there in the blog-o-sphere rolling your eyes.  Thinking:  Not another writer who chains herself to scripting out every last word of  her novel, detail by infinitesimal detail. You think there’s nothing better  than letting your story run away with you, surprising you with unexpected twists and turns as a character kisses someone unexpected – or maybe kills them. But even a SOTP has to plot something. Beginning, middle, end. The Disappointments (Ds). Maybe resist putting hands to keyboard and discern your characters’ Lie and the Truth that will set them free?

Any and all of this is planning the work.

As you read this blog post, I’m  deep into writing my second novel.

Once my editor approved my synopsis, I  could:

1. Start writing

2. Plan the work.

Believe me, with a deadline looming and a word count that rivaled the national debt, writing was ve-ery appealing. But planning the work was the wise choice. And so I charted my main  characters’ emotional journeys. I deepened my subplot and determined what  character would have a layer threaded through the story. I zeroed in on my  villain – yep, got one of those – and made him one nasty guy, disguised in a  layer of charisma. I conferred with my mentors and Weston, my beloved Book  Buddy.

Ten days later, I opened a Word document, typed the words Chapter 1, Scene 1, and started writing. And you know what?

I’m having a blast!


I took the time to plan my work – and now I’m working my plan.

 MBT’s Skills Coach, Beth K. Vogt provides her readers with a happily ever after woven through with humor, reality, and God’s lavish grace. Her debut novel, Wish You Were Here, will be published in May 2012 by Howard Books. She’s also written Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood after 35 for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) International and is a consulting editor for their magazine, MomSense,
and a bimonthly columnist for MOMSnext, an e-zine for moms of school-age children.


P.S.  Would you like 24-hour all access to the Team Member Locker room and all the perks of the MBT Team Membership? Sign up for Thursday night’s MBT Open House and get the next 24 hours free!  Sign up HERE and you’ll get your access registration link on Thursday morning.










Changes to Tweetdeck or Why I Moved to Hootsuite

This time last year I  shared with you my discovery of the social media manager, Tweetdeck
( I was thrilled with its versatility and all the options it  offered.

Fast forward to this year  and Twitter has since acquired Tweetdeck and my love affair with

this program  has waned. It no longer offers many of the options that helped me organize and
manage my social networking. Here are just a few that have gone missing.
The  ability to copy and paste something into updates.
The  general ease of navigation that made this program so simple.
The live  timeline that pops up no matter what you’re working on.
The easy  interface between Tweetdeck and Facebook.

Because of these changes  I’ve switched programs and now use Hootsuite ( almost
exclusively. There are drawbacks to Hootsuite, but now I find it infinitely  superior to the new Tweetdeck.

I use the free version of  Hootsuite and have found it works fine for my needs. If however, I add more
twitter or Facebook account, beyond what I have now, I’ll have to go to their paid membership.

But this is what I get with their free version.
5 social  profiles
•Basic  analytics
2 RSS  feeds

There is also a very good  video on how to navigate Hootsuite to help you get started.  It doesn’t offer the live timeline that
appears on your computer screen no matter what you’re working on, but I know
that will be an advantage for many of you.All in all, I’m very
happy with my move to Hootsuite.

Edie Melson is a freelance  writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a  prolific writer,

and has a popular writing blog, The Write  Conversation. In keeping up with the leading edge of all things digital
Edie has become known as one of the go-to experts on Twitter, Facebook, and  social media for writers wanting to learn how to plug in. Her bestselling eBook  on this subject, Social  Media Marketing for Writers, is available on Kindle and Nook.

Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home, is Edie’s latest project. This devotional book for those
with family members in the military debuted on Veterans Day, 2011.

Married 30 years to her high
school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.