Leslie Pietrzyk has a great post with all sorts of valuable information about how to survive the AWP. It reminded me of a Facebook conversation that happened weeks ago after Jeannine Hall Gailey wrote a great post about book sales; it's the kind of post that has links to other posts that discuss the same topic. She then posted the link to her post on Facebook, which sparked more conversation.
One of the topics that came up was the AWP convention and how that relates to book sales. Jeannine said, "Yes, it's more indirect than direct sales, though direct sales definitely happen there. I think you end up seeing people, making connections, old friends ask you for poems at their literary journals, people might tell you about jobs or other opportunities - that kind of thing. It's like, is it worth it, strictly monetarily? Hard to say! I'd love to hear other people's opinions on it..."
And with that invitation, I wrote this reply:
"The conference fee itself is VERY affordable. It's the hotel and airfare costs that make me decide against it. The workshops and presentations: VERY useful. Making connections: very possible, although my introvert side hated it. I figure that if one must stay in a hotel and eat and fly to the event, the AWP costs over $1000: one can buy a lot of how-to books and inspiring outings closer to home for that chunk of money.
But every year, I do wonder if I've made the right decision not to go. And I wonder how all the grad students that I see there afford it. I would not have been able to go in grad school. Of course, I was determined to be debt-free, and I suspect that grad students are using some of their student loan money to cover it. Or worse, credit cards."
Jeannine responded, "I think if you're trying to sell a book, it's undeniably useful to go; if not, then the benefits are more amorphous."
I replied, "That's a good point too. I've often wondered if one could tie in a huge road trip if the AWP was within driving distance--do readings along the way. Of course, then the issue becomes taking that much time off work, if one has that kind of job. I also know people who tie it all into family vacation time. I like the idea of a trip with multiple purposes--even though the thought of it exhausts me."
I am guessing that by now, most people have made their decisions about whether or not to go to the 2015 AWP conference. I won't go, although I'd love to see Minneapolis. Future conferences? In 2016, it's L.A.--I'm fairly sure I won't be there. But then the conference returns to the east coast: 2017 in D.C., which, since I have family in the area, is doable. And 2018 is Tampa--Tampa! The AWP in a city with warm weather! In early March! I can drive there.
So, it's not too early to start thinking about the 2017 and 2018 AWP. I don't have a book with a spine to promote at this point, but I want to have one by 2017 or 2018--and that means I need to go into high gear now.
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