November 13, 2017
In the midst of my latest book project, my printer died. Without warning, it shut off and would not turn on despite my coaxing, crying, yelling, and begging. I thought about kicking it, but I’ve a low tolerance for pain.
Since I prefer to edit on paper, the malfunction was a big disruption – and frustration. Guess what? A month later, I’m still without a printer!
I really want the same one. When I learned that it is no longer sold, I lost all incentive to buy another quickly. Plus, my printer resurrected itself, working intermittently for two weeks or so. But, it died again. Meanwhile, my work-around is a time waster. So I’ll order a new printer this week!
What an ordeal!
Without a doubt: working equipment is a must-have for every writer. But, for long-term success, we also need promotional items, writing resources, office furniture, and other items.
How to pay for them? Here are ways* to affordably – and wisely – finance these resources.
Start small. While it’s true that you have to spend money to make money, don’t go overboard. Instead, start small and invest as your writing incomes grows. Use your software’s template for designing business cards, brochures, or postcards. To save time and money, print quantities as needed. Other options: consider free or inexpensive options at Vistaprint, or search for a graphic designer at Fiverr. Also, if you know a graphic designer consider bartering services.
Use the library. Libraries rock! They offer a plethora of resources and services that can help us excel in our craft, and market better. Indeed, they are a viable, affordable option for market research, browsing current issues of newspapers and magazines, and for borrowing the latest writing-related books. For research purposes, borrow books (including audiobooks and ebooks), videos, and other content related to works-in-progress. I love that I can request books online through my county’s library retrieval system, and pick them up at my local library once the staff has pulled them from the shelves.
Buy discounted items. Look for discounts on items needed for making effective videos. Also, consider purchasing books from used bookstores, online bookstores, or online discounted bookstores, like Half-Price Books. One way I pay lower out-of-pocket costs for books is by using credit cards points while shopping on Amazon. Book fairs also are worth exploring. My sister and I visited Green Valley Book Fair last month for the first time where I purchased a number of kids’ books at decent prices.
Use online resources. Online resources abound. Use these money- and time-savers as much as possible. Some I regularly surf to include Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Society of Children Book Illustrators & Writers (“SCBWI”), and Publishers Weekly.
Re-invest profits. Use some or all monies received from your writing to pay for what you need or to attend a writer’s conference. Re-investing means that you can’t use the money for other things, but it also ensures you have the money to keep your resources up-to-date.
$eek financial help. Seek opportunities that provide partial or full funding to an event, or for purchasing equipment, etc.. For example, many conferences offer partial or full scholarships. Currently, Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference is sponsoring a contest, a full scholarship opportunity for 10 writers to attend the event in March 2018. Another option: apply for grants from arts organizations in your state.
Make a wish list. Long before crowd funding became popular, we could make a list of our creativity needs, and invite family and friends to invest in us. That low-tech method still works. Add your writing resources/conference registrations to your wish list for holidays, special events, or your birthday. If any is time-sensitive, let family and friends know.
Get freebies. Check with area nonprofits, churches, and corporations to see whether they have any excess supplies or office equipment (bookshelves, file cabinets, computers, desks, etc.). Many will give these upon request, as long as you pick them up. Freecycle is another great source of freebies. Register with your local area – or ones nearby – to find useful items.
Join membership rewards programs. These allow writers to save money on office supplies, travel, and other things we need as we write for publication. By buying ink and paper through HP, I regularly save 10% or more on ink or paper, enabling me to buy a greater number of supplies each time I order. I cashed in a freebie earned through Amtrak Guest Rewards to travel at no cost to the 2016 SCBWI conference in New York City. That freebie yielded another: while at the Conference I won free tuition to this year’s event!
Save funds. When money is tight, saving seems impossible. But, consider ways you can same money from your 9-to-5 wages or bonuses, freelance contract fees, or other sources. Be creative. I save my spare change – I call it my “fun” money. Occasionally, I’ll take it to the bank, deposit it, and later use the funds for buying books, or purchasing meals while traveling to/from conferences.
Be patient. Even though it’s tough working without all needed resources, squelch the temptation to splurge. Remember, you don’t need everything now. And, another writer’s needs may be your wants. So don’t compare yourself to your writing friends and their resources. Rather, use the tips here and be patient as you attain needed resources.
Lisa A. Crayton is an award-winning freelance writer, multi-published author, conference speaker…and more. She loves helping writers, and challenging them to achieve their goals and dreams! Connect with her on Facebook.
*I’ve shared these tips in my column I wrote years ago for an online writing magazine, and they’re still important today. I’ve updated them for relevancy.