Author on a budget

Working on my novelI’ve renewed one of my favorite interests: frugality. It occurred to me recently that I’ve become complacent in my spending, blowing through a lot of money that I probably don’t need to. Instead of eating lunch every day at work, I’m bringing it from home. Drinking tea at work and home is saving me money, not only from the price of coffee, but also by eliminating the temptations that go along with them: Scones, cookies, etc. I’ve looked for fun (free) outdoor activities to occupy my time, like riding my bike or playing disc golf. I’m saving going out for limited occasions.

So in examining all my spending, I couldn’t help but look at my writing. After all, right now it’s a money-losing enterprise. Not a big money sink. I pay my editor, a copy editor I used to work with and fellow sci-fi dork, a friend price to edit my work when it’s finished. I’ve paid for the first four covers of Robot Awareness, so that expense is largely gone. (My short story will need one, so I guess I have one coming up.)

But that being said, should I still continue to sink money into it?

In a word: Yes. Writing is what I do, and I’m confident enough in my work that I’m building a catalogue that will one day generate money, even if it’s a losing proposition now. Plus, the expenses aren’t really that bad. I pay my editor $50 or so for each job, and all four covers cost me $120 (a college student friend from Japan who did a wonderful job, and used it in her portfolio).

Also, I don’t publish every day. I write, edit, send to editor, go through and make changes, then upload to Amazon. It’s a long process and so I publish 2-3 times per year. That’s enough for me.

So I look at it as an investment. Once I’ve built my catalogue, I plan to promote more. I found trying to promote one book by itself is a losing proposition. People want to know they can read more of you before they invest the time (really, that’s a bigger barrier than the cost, which is low for most self-published authors). I’ve heard this from many indie authors: They didn’t start really selling until they had a number of titles available.

So in the mean time, I will keep plugging away!

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts below:



  1. This is like the biggest thing for me. I hate spending so much money on lunch, but I also feel like the biggest unsocial butterfly in the whole wide world. Wake up, tea by myself. Decline morning coffee run. Eat lunch I prepared by myself. Decline lunch run. Go home. More tea. More prep for tomorrow, alone. It’s a little sad! I suppose I need some significant other to live with.

    • I’ve been allowing myself a purchased lunch once per week, but even then I haven’t been indulging in expensive ones. My coworker and I have been eating our lunch brought from home together. It’s made a huge difference in my budget.

      The social pressures are tough – I have a friend with whom I would grab a beer with on Fridays. He would want to meet right away after work, so I would inevitably get hungry and have to eat there (I would have preferred to eat at home first). I had to transition him into other forms of entertainment to keep my costs down!

      But when it comes to writing, I feel I should still spend the money on getting my stuff published. I’ve found ways to do it (relatively) cheaply, but it still costs money, you know? But, so it goes.

      • Ah, that age old curse. Money! If only we could work 20 hours a week and have enough money for suds and eating out on Friday afternoons with friends. That would be the life. Maybe it’s time to fake a disability? Is daydreaming about all the words I am not going to write a disability? I feel like it is.

      • Exactly. My new goal is to buy and pay off a house in order to lower living expenses, and to build up enough money that one day I can live off the interest plus a little part-time work. Then my day every day can involve waking up and writing. Who knows, maybe my fiction will bring in that part-time money by then! (Right now, I write non-fiction so I can afford to publish my fiction.)

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