Do you need to spend money on your writing?
No. Writing is one of the easiest and least expensive things to do. All you need is a pen and paper, or a computer, and you’re right to go. You can even Google writing tips and devour endless information on how to write a story – all for free.
If you were to rephrase the question to:
‘Do you need to spend money on your writing career?’
…then the answer becomes more of a yes. No, actually, a definite yes.
It comes down to what you want out of a writing career. I’m guessing, that if you are calling it a career, then at some stage you want to see your book in print or at least ebook version. You hope, that one day, you may even earn a little coin from your writing. And maybe, you even dream of giving up your day job, and transitioning into a full-time writer! If that’s the case, then yes, you do absolutely need to invest in your writing.
Unfortunately though, writing is one of the very few hobbies that can turn into a well-paying career. Sure, there are many successful writers, but the majority of authors don’t earn enough to solely live on income from book sales.
Because of this, writers find themselves needing to cross the guilt bridge. Asking themselves if it’s worth spending money on something that may not make any money? They question the decision to invest in their writing.
I know this is something I’ve always struggled with. But, when I made the decision to pursue publication, I knew I had to spend money on my writing. It was a no-brainer.
Investing money on my writing skills and knowledge is one of the best things I’ve done for my writing. Not only has it helped me grow and develop my skill set, but it has also enabled me to make valuable connections with like-minded people in the industry – writers, authors and publishing insiders. Some of which are an integral part of my writing life.
So, how and when should you invest in your writing?
It’s a great question.
It depends on what stage you are at with your writing. What I’ve done below, is break it down into three sections: for those starting out, those somewhere in the middle, and those at the pointy end.
Just starting out
For new writers, the best place to spend money is on learning your craft. Writing’s a tough gig, and it’s not for everyone. Even though you feel you may have a book in you, when it comes to actually sitting down and writing, it’s not always (or at all) that easy. So at this stage, small investments are the best.
This might be a simple as buying a book on writing craft, or maybe signing up for a writing workshop, or course. These type of investments will help you discover how much you enjoy writing and help you decide if you want to knuckle down and persist, or if in fact, you may have a book in you, but you’re happy for it to stay there!
Some low cost investments for beginners:
- Books on writing craft (these can be purchased in print or ebook, or borrowed from your library)
- Writing workshops
- Writing courses – online/in person
- Advanced writing courses or degrees (be sure you want to commit!)
In the midst
For those further along with their writing, this is the time when you need to decide if you are serious about this writing thing. You may have a good chunk of your draft completed, or maybe even completed a draft or two. And if so, now is the time for some more serious commitment, both time and money wise.
Investments for intermediates:
- Consider a writing retreat or applying for a residency which will allow you to the time and space to get your manuscript completed.
- Enter writing competitions. While some are free, many ask a small fee, but it’s worth it. Not only do you have the chance of your work being recognized, but it’s also the first step in being brave enough to put your writing out there.
- Attending conferences, seminars, literary festivals, writers’ week events. Here you will learn from published authors, industry insiders, and make fantastic connections with other writers.
- Invest in your author platform. If you’re serious about this publishing thing, now is the time to begin building your author platform. Invest in a website, put yourself out there on social media, invest in some low-cost marketing (Facebook/Instagram marketing), build your email list.
- Perhaps it may be time to consider a writing coach?
The next step
Once you have a manuscript that you’ve taken through a couple of drafts, it’s time to get some feedback, and look at the steps towards getting that manuscript read for submission/querying, or indie-publishing.
More serious investments:
- A manuscript assessment. Getting feedback on your work is an essential part of the process, and while friends and family can make great beta readers, they won’t be able to provide you with the valuable knowledge an experienced eye can offer. The best place to look for manuscript assessments in through your local writers’ centre, state writers’ centre, or the Australian Society of Authors.
- Engage a freelance editor. If you’re going to self or indie-publish, this is a non-negotiable. To get your book up to scratch, you’ll need to invest in an editor. And even if you’re heading down the traditional publishing route, a freelance editor can be one of the best investments you ever make in your writing.
- Writing retreats, conferences, festivals, events (you can never do too many!)
- And for those indie-publishing this is when you will need to invest seriously in things such as editing (as mentioned above), proofreading, formatting, book cover design, as well as marketing and promotion.
Here are some great resources* – Australian focused
Writing Associations, Centres, & Courses
Providing a range of information, resources, courses, programs, manuscript assessment services, and membership benefits.
Australian Society of Authors
Australian Writers’ Centre
Queensland Writers’ Centre
South Australian Writers’ Centre
Northern Territory Writers’ Centre
ACT Writers’ Centre
Professional Development Programs and Opportunities
Hachette Manuscript Development Program
Varuna – The Writers’ House (residency, events, programs)
Hardcopy – Professional Development Program
Short Story Competitions
List of Short Story Competitions 2018