Way back when I was a beginning writer and didn’t have a dime to spare, I still managed to attend a high-ticket conference as my first conference ever. And at that conference, I met 2 editors that resulted in nearly 20 book contracts over the years.

How did I go if I didn’t have the money to get there? I volunteered! I simply contacted the offices and said I’d be willing to do anything to help out if it could get me in the door.

They put me to work. I stuffed envelopes, helped with registration, scheduled appointments with editors and was a general girl Friday in the days leading up to the big event.

That was the beginning of an amazing journey.

Now, some 20 years later, I still have never paid a penny to attend a conference. You name it, I might have done it. From judging for contests to counting the money to getting more toilet paper to speaking and leading workshops to getting paid for manuscript critiques, I’ve volunteered my way from conference to conference.

And wonderful perks of taking time to volunteer is that often you’re invited to a volunteer’s lunch and get to sit with the editors from New York, or develop a friendship with the editors because your task is to make sure their every need is met.

So how about it…considering a conference but don’t have the big bucks to pay to attend? Volunteer. Even my cat Humphrey helps out as he just did last month when I was getting ready for one of my most recent SCBWI conferences where I volunteered to help set up and organize sign-ups for critique groups.

-contributed by Nancy I. Sanders


3 responses to “Volunteer!

  1. Gee, Nancy, maybe if Humphrey could come visit me pre-conference time I could volunteer too. Minka and Nina ae too busy dredging up mischief to be any help.

    I wonder if any other writer can say the same as you, to not miss a conference yet never paying?


    • Oh sure, Shirley! Lots of people do it. They’re the ones you see at the registration tables or bringing the food to share. Every conference needs volunteers!

  2. I’ve done this three times for Writers Day conferences! I worked registration (o; It was fun!

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