Financing Your Hobby: A Checklist for Writers


Writing a book in of itself doesn’t cost a whole lot, except time. But if you want to be a published author, expenses can quickly add up; and no matter whether you choose to go the traditional- or self-publishing route, you’re going to have to budget for your expenses.

If you choose to self-publish, you absolutely have more freedom when it comes to what you write, your title, your cover and marketing initiatives. But you end up taking on a lot of additional costs yourself. Things you should consider budgeting for include:

  1. Computer – You know, for the writing.
  2. Reading Material – You need to read in the genre you want to write, so buying books is a must (not that this is a problem for me… Writing <–> Reading – can’t beat that!)
  3. Paper, Pens, Ink and Printer – For writing, editing, brainstorming etc.
  4. Professional Edit – This could be a developmental edit following your first draft and/or a line edit. Line edits are essential. No one will read your book if it’s riddled with typos.
  5. Cover Design – Cover artists vary in price. It pays off to search for someone in your price range that offers decent services. My most recent partnership is with an artist who charges half of what the first designer wanted for my book. The first designer wanted $600 for a cover design. I told them that I didn’t expect to make $600 in a decade but I thanked them politely for talking to me. Hopefully that decade thing is just an exaggeration. But, I’m not a publishing house. I don’t have the income to justify spending that much on a cover.
  6. Professional Formatting – Unless you want to format it yourself. Then you’ll need to buy the program (I think it’s only $45 though) and either work it out on your own, or find someone to teach you.
    front-back
    The bookmark I designed using images I already own.
  7. Marketing materials – This can include anything from bookmarks, business cards and professionally designed digital content. Instead of having someone design your digital content, use canva.com. I produced some pretty awesome bookmarks for an event I did in January there and then had them printed by Vistaprint (they always have a deal going on, just FYI). $35.99 total for 100 bookmarks + tax and shipping.
  8. Website Domain (www.writervsworld.com for example) and design. There are tons of free templates out there, so spending money on a designer is a personal preference. I used a free theme on WordPress and am hosted through there. My entire website costs me only $26 per year and I am absolutely IN LOVE with the theme I found.
  9. Social Media Ads – These can be a worthwhile way of getting your book/name/info out there and it can be done for relatively cheap.

Okay, so I’ve never had the privilege of being published by a real publishing house, but unless you’re Stephen King, it seems to me that you still wind up doing a lot of your own promotional work. Here are some costs that you can expect to incur, even if you are planning to be/trying to get published by a legit house.

  1. Computer – Still for the writing and research.
  2. Books – Even if you’re big time, you probably still research.
  3. Paper, Pens, Ink and Printer – For writing, editing, brainstorming, and submitting your manuscript etc.
  4. Professional Edits – Same options as above. No publishing house or agent will want to check out your novel if it has lots of errors. You need to be pretty close to publishing quality when you submit, so you’re still going to have to pony up for an editor (well, unless you’ve been published by a house previously. Then, you may not have this problem so much).
  5. Postage – You’re going to submit your manuscript A LOT. That postage cost can add up. There are a decent number of publishers who take digital submissions now though, so you can alleviate this cost somewhat by submitting in this manner. I’m not familiar with digital slush piles, so you may want to research that. For smaller presses, I’ve heard of this being a thing. I haven’t looked into the bigger houses.
  6. Marketing materials…unless you’re Stephen King.
  7. Website domain – I can’t add this point with too much authority. But I would expect that each author out there, no matter how big of a name they are, supplies their own website. They likely also outsource the design as well (if they’re a big time writer).

While there are many things to consider when you are writing a book, the costs from start to finish aren’t terrible, particularly when you compare the costs of this hobby versus things like scuba diving (expensive, but totally worth it BTW). Even if you self-publish, you can produce a beautiful book without totally breaking the bank.

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2 thoughts on “Financing Your Hobby: A Checklist for Writers

    1. I actually choose to self-publish. I do have friends who have been published by traditional publishing houses though. I also completed a summer program at NYU a number of summers ago when I aspired to be a book editor in NY and learned a lot about the field from that perspective.

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