#MondayBlogs,  Marketing

Top 10 Writers Conference Substitutes For The Poor & Xenophobic

If you’re a writer of any artistic credibility at all, then you have no money and you’re kind of afraid of people.

But don’t let either of those things stop you from becoming the best writer you can be.

The internet is full of free (and many not-so-free) writers resources that can help you become really awesome. Most of them have  the added bonus of not actually having to create small talk, bathe or find clothing that isn’t a moth-eaten sweater. For us financially strapped xenophobes out there, this is a win-win.

Top 10 Writers Conference Substitutes For The Poor and Xenophobic by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

1. The Actual Conference 

A conference is an event, usually at a hotel, where a bunch of strangers meet in stuffy or inexplicably cold rooms, listen to a monotonous, overrated speaker read Power Point slides verbatim while the attendees struggle to stay awake. Are you sure you don’t want to scrape up enough money to go? How about these options instead? If you want to feel at home, mess with your home’s thermostat to make it as uncomfortable as possible.

What’s free:  The Muse Online Writer’s Conference  or the San Francisco Writers Conference

What’s not so free: The Backspace Writers Conference

2. Celebrity Authors Who Talk About Writing

Sometimes conferences have big name writers come and talk about their experiences. And then at the back table, when you’re standing in line to get their book signed, you get all tongue tied and forget how to spell your name for the inscription. Never fear, you can see these writers online and you lower the risk of fangirling significantly.

What’s free:  Anne Rice on YouTube, Susan Conley at TedTalks, Rick Riordan,  And all of these Ted Talk videos that are really cool. Need more? Do a search on YouTube for “Authors Talk About Writing” and you will be amazed at what you find.

What’s not so free: James Patterson Teaches Writing

3. General Fiction Writing Tips and Strategies

At a writer’s conference, often they have instructive sessions that go over the ins and outs of writing. If you’re lucky, they aren’t immediately after lunch, because then you’re fighting to stay awake. How about this? Go to these links for similar instruction and if you get sleepy, just put your head down on your desk. No one will know!

What’s free: Start here: Inside Creative Writing, episode one from Florida State University, Then, you can YouTube search: fiction writing.  You will find DOZENS of videos to watch. Watch them all!

What’s not so free: Gotham Writers Online Writing Classes

4. Ideas For Marketing

Sometimes at conferences, they have marketing experts come in and help authors with their platform and sales ideas. Who doesn’t want to sell more books? The more books we sell, the more conferences we can go to! Try these if you’re not going to conferences this year.

What’s Free:  Eighty-nine book marketing ideas that will change your life. And Five Easy Ways To Publicize and Promote Your Book or, my friend Rachel Thompson has created a list of sources for you! 

What’s Not So Free: This list from Publishing Review will give you some links to book promoting sites that can help you out. 

5. Writing Courses

So if you went to a conference, your speaker would cram a lot of information in a 55 minute session.  If you want something a little more thorough, you could take a course instead! And these courses don’t require you to get dressed or shake the cat hair off that holey sweater.

What’s Free:  Here’s a link to 10 Universities that offer free writing courses! FREE EDUCATION!  All you poor impoverished xenophobes out there don’t even have to get dressed!

What’s Not So Free:  Writer’s Digest has a lot of courses! These look really good!

6. Podcasts

It’s time to rest your eyes and use your ears! If you leave your earbuds in, all the time, no one will talk to you. Make the most of this alone time by listening to these writing podcasts. The Write Life has found the 10 Best for you! 

7.  Resources on Twitter

It’s all free! Here are 52 tweetchats and hashtags that can help you in your writing pursuits. And my favorite is the #10MinNovelists chat every Thursday at 9PM EDT. This is the great thing about Twitter. You can follow along and you don’t have to talk to anyone! (That is, unless you’re the host. Like me. Yikes.)

8. Agents’ blogs

Because you are true xenophobe, you can glean all the wisdom of some great agents through their blogs. Rachelle Gardner’s is a great place to hang out. Janet Reid has a lot of good stuff to say. Laura Crockett’s blog is not just informative, but it’s also so pretty! And Chip MacGregor is the only literary agent in this list that has bought me nachos. This is his blog.  Most of them don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, so if you want to get their attention for your work, read their submissions guidelines carefully.

9. Editors’ blogs

And maybe the reason that you are xenophobic is because you’ve been stabbed with a red pen too many times. Never fear. These editors can’t reach you through your computer screen. But they do have a lot to say about writing and what not to do. This is Evil Editor, Query Shark, and Subversive Copy Editor. You know, they do seem a teensy bit scary. If they’re too much for you, go over to Robin Patchen’s Red Pen Editing Services and ask for a virtual hug, she’ll be happy to oblige.

10. Wrapping it all up on Pinterest

10 Minute Novelists have over fifty writing related boards on Pinterest that link you to hundreds of resources on craft, marketing, social media, writing prompts, structure, character, everything! And no one will bother you there. They’re free and when you’re done clicking all the pins, you’ll know everything and that’s our point here, isn’t it?

AND AN EXTRA BONUS COURSE:  (It’s not free, but it’s great!) Jerry B. Jenkins’ flagship course, Your Novel Blueprint In the course, Jerry gives writers a start-to-finish blueprint for writing a great novel–all the way from book idea to completed manuscript.

This list is NOT exhaustive. But it will certainly get you started if you can’t afford to go out to learn how to be a great writer. And DON’T forget your local library (although you should put clothes on to go there, and you may have to actually speak to someone. You can do it, though, most librarians don’t bite and if they do, they probably have all their shots.)

I have to stand next to the financially strapped and xenophobic writers this year, but that’s not an excuse for not learning all I can about how to write well. If I can do it, you can too! 



Do you have any other suggestions? What worked for you? What didn’t work? Are you poor or xenophobic or both? 

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.