Writing can be a very cheap hobby, but if you want to improve and protect your work – or move to publish it – a few investments can make a big difference. We aren’t talking about playing the stock market. We’re talking about investing in yourself. These three examples may make the biggest difference for writers of any genre.
Your Name on Your Website
Websites do more than legitimize you in the eyes of potential agents and publishing houses (though they do help). A website is a hub for fans or curious readers looking for more of your work. We’ve written entire articles to help you flesh out a great author site, but before you get that far, you need to purchase your domain name and get a hosting plan.
Having your name attached to the site matters. When readers search your name, you want your website to pop up. What about your social media presence, you ask, isn’t that good for anything? Social media is great for a lot of things, but you have to remember a couple problems. First, until you have a blue check by your name, it will be easy for readers searching your name to confuse you with the dozens of other people who share it. Secondly, social media is about current news, what’s happening now, and what funny thing you typed before falling asleep last night. You get one pinned post, and you can’t tell readers everything they need to know within the max character limit. That post should lead to a website with a full list of your available work, any services you offer, when you’re making appearances, etc.
This is a significant investment. Unless you get it as part of your hosting package, a domain name costs around $50. Hosting costs more, anywhere from $3 to $15 per month.
Lately, I’ve had several friends mourn the loss of lost Google accounts. All their files – safely backed up in the cloud – are now princesses held hostage in a fortress. They’re still perfectly safe, but my friends may never see them again.
Some of the best investments writers can make are thumb drives, SD cards, and external hard drives. Back up with cloud storage as much as you like. There are definite advantages, but you need a back up you control. If you lose your password or your account is hacked, you’ll have weekly or monthly failsafes pretty literally in hand.
Best of all, this is a super cheap investment. Great thumb drives only cost $10-15, and it’s a one-time investment.
No one likes the idea of handing over their baby for a stranger to flay. It isn’t fun. But it is useful. No matter how good your story is, how much your beta readers praised your technique, or how many times you’ve redrafted, you need an editor. If you accept the well-meant flaying, you’ll learn from it, and your work will be even better. Your next work can benefit from the lessons this round teaches you, and the cycle continues. That means you’ll grow into a better writer, too. Think of it as hiring an experienced professor (who has usually worked in the publishing industry) to give you an advanced course in writing that focuses entirely on your project.
Professional editing is expensive. It is very, very expensive depending on who you hire. If you’re an indie writer, though, there are indie editors who specialize in services for people in your budgetary range. They’ll bring down the cost of editing your novel from thousands of dollars to hundreds. Charlie Knight is a great example. Remember, though, that editors are professionals. They need to eat, too.
You don’t need to invest in everything today – maybe not even this year. You need a completed draft before you approach an editor, and there’s no point having a published website if you don’t plan on publishing anything soon. Invest in measures that will help with the next step of your adventure, whatever that may be.