The Cost of Writing

Being an author shouldn’t cost anything, right?

It depends on what kind of expenses are being discussed. I still hold firm that a writer should never pay reading fees, publishing fees, or submission fees. Yes, some publications charge a small sum to help keep their magazine running, but that makes me question the validity of their readership.

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It’s a tough business. Words are free all over the internet. Everyday more authors are promoting a free version of their book. Readers are getting more and more selective because the market is flooded with people who think all they have to do is write a book and they’re a writer. This is true; writing does make you a writer to some degree. But being an author is a whole different world.

Finding an audience, publishing route that works best, promoting one’s self, and continuing to write are all struggles that take more effort than the average reader will ever grasp.

Once a story is ready. Really ready. As in, it has been written, sat for months without being bothered, been properly edited and beta tested, an author must seek out their audience. The broadest audiences are found through publishers. Books take so much time and energy to mature that many authors write short pieces for practice and to keep their name out there. (It’s a great tactic that’s been proven to work)

But where to submit?

The multitude of magazines, ezines, and anthologies can be overwhelming for a writer. That’s why services like Duotrope and Submittable exist. These platforms narrow down the search and help authors find the best place to submit their work. Unfortunately Duotrope is not free. The yearly subscription is not too expensive and I have utilized this helpful tool for a few years now.


It’s simple enough, but then to build a name and keep things going an author/writer NEEDS a website. I stress this because it affects acceptances. A professional will be out there on social media, they will have everything pulled together in a neat package on their website. Here we are again though, in order to obtain a custom made website that looks and feels professional to visitors, some money is usually needed.

Oh, don’t forget those prolific writer’s societies. SCBWI is a HUGE help in the children’s book industry. A state or city writer’s guild also connects many authors and offers workshops, open mics, and competitions. I am affiliated with the MO Writer’s Guild and the St. Louis Writer’s Guild. But remember, they all require fees.

Want to get a booth at an event to do a book signing? Fees

Want to take out an ad? Fees

Need more views? Fees

Ready to do a giveaway on goodreads? Oh yeah, they’re charging for that now too.

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I once had a friend laugh when I told them that I have to sell stories to make back what I put into my career. He truly did not believe that writers have very many expenses beyond pens and paper. How sweet haha

No, an author does not NEED every one of these costly tools, but the return grows based on marketing and marketing costs. This is the business side of being a writer that many word slingers grumble about. It’s the ugly truth that many people who are struggling don’t wish to accept.

I remember when word was free. Now those fees are added into my ledger as well.

Here’s the trick to all of this. No I won’t dance around singing my hippy song of: BALANCE (even though that is necessary)

Pick and choose what’s affordable. It’s taken me years to make enough off of my work to be able to afford it all. Climbing up the indie rope is rough. I would love to have an agent, but I find a lot of mainstream books mundane and predictable. Breaking through into the mainstream someday is always the goal, but in the meantime there is a trick that offers more insight than just preaching balance.

Write Offs!

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Everyone hates taxes.

It’s homework for adults. They’re long and boring if you itemize or have business expenses, but it’s worth your time to note everything you spend on your craft and write it off when the time comes.

Traveled to a book signing? Mileage

Pay for Microsoft Word? That’s a write off

Pay for Duotrope? That’s a write off

Gave away free books? Writeoff

Bought lunch at a workshop? Writeoff

You need to pay for the internet to submit most work now, write that bill off!

Everything spent on writing doesn’t just further your career; it is money that you invest in yourself. That investment is honored by the government (for now). The powers that currently be seem to value business and commerce above the individuals that they serve, so put your business pants on and get what you deserve.


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