Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Accountability: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

 For most of this year, my posts have been encouraging you to seek the support you need as a writer. I’ve talked about mentors, critiques, and this is my second post on accountability. Specifically, learning to be a successful author is going to cost you in money and time.

Take courses online. From a college. From successful authors. Courses can be inexpensive, or for a more sacrificial price, you can join a group for lifetime membership and have a ton of wisdom at your disposal. The internet is full of possibilities where you can learn more about the craft for a price. In my case, I see so many possibilities, that my head spins, which only ends up with my wheels spinning and getting me nowhere.

Writers Conferences: The most powerful accountability tool

I’m a big fan of in-person conferences. Maybe because the first one I ever attended changed my perspective on everything writerly!

I started big, risking a small fortune. ACFW’s national conference with over seven hundred in attendance petrified me! But my critique buddies buoyed me up when I wanted to sink to my knees in abject fear. By the third day, I was bouncing around like an overeager golden Labrador puppy. 

I met editors and agents. And they were real people just like me! I listened to authors and publishers who taught me more than my brain could contain in one weekend. My critique group solidified into a giant, group friendship. Nine years later, they’re still the first people I seek out for advice.

While discussing that first conference investment, my gallant husband thought I was crazy, but he agreed to strain the budget. Since that time, he’s seen me publish short stories, win some contests, and gain an agent. He’s now as hopeful as I am that my books will be published.

We are currently in the throes of the Conference Season.

At least, that’s what I call it. While a writer can find a conference during any month of the year, it seems our options expand from May through October. Even more so since the pandemic. Because conferences were forced to organize as a series of Zoom meetings, the possibilities of attending from home are endless—and less costly.

But I need people in the room. I need to speak with someone face to face, not face to screen. Especially when it’s a large group. How do you look anyone in the eye through a camera lens?

In fact, as I write this, I’m about to embark on a road trip to my next conference adventure. I’m so excited! My first chance in two years to mingle with people who understand writerspeak!

You may question the value of a major monetary commitment. “They’re so expensive,” you say. “Registration, meals, travel, lodging. Not to mention my ability to break the bank once I’m in the conference book store!”

Well, there’s that. 

Let’s add it up.

Registration fees: Anywhere from $100 to $1000.

Travel: A roundtrip flight can range from $300 to $600 stateside. Gasoline—figure the total miles,  know how many miles you get to a tank of gas and what that cost is for you. Decide how many fill-ups you’ll need and multiply accordingly. (1000 miles round trip. My little car gets 400 miles to the tank. Each stop to fill up costs me about $30.00. So I will need three tanks of gas with plenty left over. Which means my gasoline cost is $90.)

Meals on the way to conference and back home. Depends on the distance and what you’re willing to pay. Anywhere from ten bucks to two hundred. Most conferences include your meals.

Lodging. Again, you have options. Can you share your room with another participant and split the cost? Are you adventuresome enough to have four to a room? Do you prefer to find a cheaper hotel nearby? Assume the cost is $100 per night, and this is a three-day, two night conference. So $200.

Add it up.

Registration:                $100-1000

Travel:                         $  90-600

Meals:                          $  10-200

Lodging:                     $200-1000


Total:                           $400-3800 (+ books!)


The opportunity to practice writerspeak with other authors: PRICELESS.


Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She is currently working on a middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister.

Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft.

A wife, mother of three, and grandmother to eight, Linda regales the youngest grandchildren with “Nona Stories,” tales of her childhood. Maybe one day those stories will be in picture books!

Where Linda can be found on the web: