Today’s cover art is from Bruno /Germany
Money is something most writers have a sticky relationship with. We’re artists, we don’t do this for the money. But we need money to, you know, live. We have day jobs until we make enough money writing to sustain us full-time. If we ever make enough money writing.
Then, there’s spending money on writing itself. Now, you don’t need to spend much money at all to write. But to get projects finished, published or in front of people’s faces might be a very different situation.
The problem is that money spent on writing is like money spent on anything else. Some things are a good investment, and some are little better than setting your precious dollar bills on fire.
Today I’m going to go over some of the best and worst ways I’ve spent money on my writing. This is a personal list based on my own experiences. What worked for me might not for you, and vice versa. If you’ve had different experiences, please let us know in the comments.
The worst ways I’ve spent money on writing
Let’s start with the obvious item. Unless you enjoy pretty stationary, you don’t need to buy it to write. I’d caution you against buying a pretty notebook for your rough drafts. Your rough draft is going to be just that, rough. It’s not going to help you write freely of garbage if you’re doing it in a plush leather-bound notebook. I might be biased, though, since I’ve literally burned rough drafts before.
Another thing I don’t spend money on anymore is contest fees. This might be up for debate, but I just don’t do it. At least, not yet. It’s a And if you’re going to pay to be in a contest, make sure you do your research. Some, like the ones hosted by Writer’s Digest, are perfectly legit. Some are run by heaps of steaming trash masquerading as people who are only there to steal your hard-earned money. Even if they are legit, though, paying for a contest is kind of like buying a lottery ticket.
Here’s something that I thought would be a bigger help than it was. It’s something that sadly ate up a ton of money throughout my career. It’s advertising. I have tried to advertise my books on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Amazon. None of these have ever produced enough sales to make them worth my time and money. Can’t say I didn’t try.
Finally, I have a complex one. I put a ton of physical copies of my books, thinking I’d be able to hand-sell them. Then, I didn’t. I had a bunch of events lined up. Then I had to cancel them. Then covid happened and now I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to schedule any more events. So that’s a lot of money sitting in my house staring at me. Don’t order copies of your book unless you know what the hell you’re going to do with them.
The best ways I’ve spent money on writing
I’d like to start here with something that I pay for every single month, my Dabble subscription. This isn’t sponsored, I just love them. Dabble is my word processing software. It’s the one I’m working on right now. It’s not so important that you subscribe to this exact software. It’s just important that you have one that you enjoy and that fits your needs. Good writing software has been worth every penny to me.
Another thing I spend money on that I consider worth it is my WordPress site. It allows me to do a lot more fine-tuning, get ad info, and all sorts of fun things. It also gives me options to personalize the look of my site. I plan to do a full website remodel later this year. I’ll consider this upgrade invaluable then.
One thing I’ve put a decent amount of money into is having my self-published works edited. My goodness, this is expensive. But it’s a must if you’re not going with a publisher. Even if you have to save up a while before you get this done, don’t publish without it. You just don’t know how much better your work will be afterwords.
Despite my feelings about fancy notebooks, I do invest money in tools I use and I love. Like the felt tip pens that I write with. Actually, it’s just those. I can use any old notebook to write rough drafts (so long as it’s college ruled). But these pens are a must, even if they’re a dollar a pen. Having something that I can hold comfortably and that works so well for me is worth it.
Finally, I cannot emphasize enough that I’ve never bought a book about writing that I regretted. On Writing, Dase Macabre, Save the Cat. Everything that Natalie Goldberg has ever written. Every one of them taught me something different and I value all of them. I honestly never think a book is a bad investment.
Except maybe Twilight.