You might have heard that AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference) has understandably gone virtual this year.
In December, I got an email urging me to register for AWP and I lol'd.
$160, in advance, non-refundable, for only 1 month access, to a virtual conference where most speakers aren’t even getting paid?
There are much better (and still profitable) models for virtual events.
Other industries offer low cost or free (for 24-48 hour access) virtual summits, with the option to upgrade to an all-access pass that includes bonuses and 6months+ access.
Plus when a summit host gets paid, the speakers also get paid 30-50% of their referral sales.
Look, I know AWP has a different calculus to make when setting their prices.
They have overhead, staff, salaries they need to pay.
They also serve a lot of writers with access to institutional funding — relieving some of the financial burdens of individual writers. And to their credit, they offer a less egregious student rate.
But let’s be real, a lot of us aren’t affiliated with institutions and are still doing this writer thing.
And you know what?
We shouldn't have to pay AWP $160 for the “privilege” of just one month access to an avalanche of Zoom recordings. #nothanks
And to be clear, no shame in your game if you’ve made this investment already.
My critique isn’t for writers who choose to take advantage of the awesome sessions themselves.
I’m all about investing time and money into my craft, my learning, my community, and my community building activities, and think you should too!
My gripe is with AWP, an institution that, instead of jumping at the opportunity to make their event *MORE* widely accessible, chose instead to charge over $100 for one month access, making this virtual version of their conference as exclusive as ever.
(And don’t even get me started on their poor track record serving underrepresented writing communities, particularly disabled writers who have sounded the alarm over and over on how inaccessible AWP is year after year — talk about a missed opportunity to turn that bad precedent around!)
...and my gain because now I'm thinking:
What if I put on an awesome and affordable virtual experience for writers?
So that’s my intention for 2021.
I’m going to organize and host a Virtual Summit spotlighting Writer Mamas of Color this year.