My final post during Conference Week is an explanation of what conferences are for agents. Not something that is often discussed in the writing community.
Most conference organizers tell themselves their conference is a coup for agents. I can’t tell you how often I’m told I’m going to find “great” talent at the conference. And yes, I have found talent at conferences. Probably five authors in 20 years of conference attendance. Okay, let’s be more optimistic. Ten authors in 20 years, roughly 100 conferences.
Why I Attend Conferences
I don’t attend conferences with the intent to find a new client. Certainly, I hope that could be the case, but it’s often not. I attend conferences to give back to the writing community and because I like authors.
What I love most about attending conferences is the energy and meeting
The True Cost of Conferences
Conferences for agents are hard-working weekends. Often we are expected to have our game faces on for 8 am breakfasts and keep them on through 8 pm dinners. On the weekends, away from our families.
When I attend a conference I am giving up a full weekend and anywhere from one to two days in the office. And most agents and editors don’t get comp days for this time away. In other words, we are all showing up in the office on Monday, often a little bedraggled, but always inspired and motivated.
Most agencies, BookEnds agents included, don’t accept conference invitations unless expenses are paid, but those expenses usually don’t extend beyond a hotel room, a plane ticket and some meals (not all). That means that for the work I’m providing, I am still paying.
I’m not complaining. I’ve already stated all the reasons I attend conferences. I’m just showing both sides. Facts are facts and so are added costs.
Plane tickets and hotel rooms are expensive. Ubers to the airport, meals, and all of those weird extra expenses that arise during travel are too. It adds up. I can honestly say every conference attendance costs me in the range of $200-$500.
If I am paid any “bonus” money for taking pitches (for example) it goes to pay for my extra expenses.
So to go back to the question that started the week. While I do understand the concern about the ethics of extra fees. I also think there’s an argument for an agent getting paid for the consultation, advice, and services provided. This is no different from paying a professional speaker to come into your organization. You would not expect Tony Robbins or Barbara Corcoran to come into your group and speak for free.