There is an old saying that the way to make a small fortune in publishing is to start with a large fortune. And while the early days of publishing favored independently wealthy authors, things have changed over the years.
While publishing may be cheaper than it once was, it’s not free. Anyone saying otherwise is probably trying to scam you. Like in any business, it takes money to make money. But there are ways savvy authors can save a lot of money.
If you want to learn clever ways to save money as an author, keep reading.
Money Saving Strategy #1: Invest in Education
The number one best way to save money as an author is to spend what money you do have on your education. This helps you in two ways.
Avoid Costly Mistakes
There is an old saying that there is never enough money to do something right but always enough money to do something twice. In life, there are generally two ways to learn something. The easy way and the hard way. The easy way is to learn from someone else before you try your hand at the thing yourself.
The hard way is to learn from your own mistakes. This gets very expensive very quickly. The longest path is often the one filled with the most shortcuts. If you take the time to study first, you will find yourself successful much faster than if you rush in yelling Leeeeeerooooooooy Jeeeeenkiiiiiiins. And yes, I realize that is a reference almost no one will get. If you got that reference, sound off in the comments.
Do Things Yourself
There are a lot of things about publishing that sound difficult and expensive if you don’t know how to do them. Creating an ebook epub file, for instance. There are people who may charge you hundreds of dollars to make an ebook. Hybrid Publishers may charge thousands. Or, with a little training, you can learn to make one yourself in five minutes.
The reason hybrid publishers like Westbow, Exlibris, and Xulon can charge so much for an otherwise minor task is that authors lack the education to know how hard “ebook file creation” really is.
Value Your Time
One thing to keep in mind when doing things yourself is that your time is also valuable. It is actually savvy to pay someone else to do something for you if that thing is expensive for you to do in terms of time. But there is a big difference between hiring someone out of ignorance and hiring someone out of a good understanding of what they are going to do.
One value of a good education is just knowing how much things should cost.
The cheapest way to get a better publishing education is to just listen to the back episode of this here very podcast. I’ve covered just about every aspect of publishing and marketing, and almost all the episodes are free!
You can also buy books, courses, and coaching, but seriously this free podcast is a great place to start. And if you find it valuable, consider becoming a patron and getting access to the patrons-only episodes.
Money Saving Strategy #2: Invest in the Right Tools
One way to save both time and money is to use the right tool for the job.
Buy Time-Saving Software
Sure, you could write a book using Microsoft Word and its default spell checker. This is like mixing bread dough using a hand whisk. Or you could use a tool made for writing books like Scrivener or Atticus and pair it with an AI grammar checker like Grammarly or ProWritingAid (affiliate links). This is like using a KitchenAid mixer.
If you feel exhausted in your writing, it may be because you are using the wrong tools. Remember, your time is valuable! Each day you live is a day closer to death. You will never get those hours back, so spend them wisely.
Buy a Mac
While more expensive initially, Apple laptops last longer and run faster than comparable PCs. This is now particularly true with the new Apple Silicon laptops that are shockingly fast and with no moving parts and should last forever.
Just because something cost less initially, that doesn’t mean it is less expensive overall. A $1000 laptop that lasts six years is less expensive over time than a $600 laptop that only lasts two years before it starts having “issues.”
Since more authors use macs than PCs, some tools, like Vellum, only run on a mac. Other tools like Scrivener run better on the mac than they do on the PC. Mac users often get new features years before the PC users do.
I know we have a lot of listeners who either work at Microsoft or who have family who work at Microsoft and every time I recommend Apple computers, I get hate mail, but I call them as I see them.
Money Saving Strategy #3 Wait for Discounts
There is a concept in business called price discrimination. This is where you charge people with more money a higher price and people with less money a lower price. This is an ancient practice that goes back to vendors haggling in the marketplaces of old.
So how do companies price discriminate today? With sales and coupons. Particularly inconvenient ones. For example, Black Friday tends to have incredible deals, but the best of which are only in the morning. The thinking is people with smaller budgets will go through the hassle of waking up early to get the deal, while people with more money will spend the day with their families or wait till Cyber Monday, where the discounts are not as good.
But it’s not just Black Friday. Any kind of sale is price discrimination. You can buy now and pay full price or wait till a sale and get it at a discount. If only there were a way to know when tools for authors go on sale… oh wait, there is!
AuthorMedia.social Deals Page
I maintain a list of tools currently on sale for authors at AuthorMedia.social. You don’t even need to be logged in to browse the deals for authors. It also shows you all the old expired deals so you can see if the thing you want to buy goes on sale or not. Atticus, for example, has never been on sale, while ProWritingAid (affiliate link) goes on sale often.
So, if you want to save money, check the AuthorMedia.social deals page to see if the thing you are wanting to buy ever goes on sale. Sometimes, a little patience can save you a lot of money.
The mindset to have is that of a hunter, where you are both patient and willing to act quickly when the opportunity presents itself.
Money Saving Strategy #4 Avoid Scams
The biggest cost for many authors is not paying full price for Microsoft Office (which is on sale right now by the way, see AuthorMedia.social deals page for more).
The biggest cost is getting snookered by a scammer.
I have some episodes about this:
- How to Spot a Publishing Scam
- Hybrid Publishing
- What Every Author Needs to Know About Cyber Security
But here are three signs of a scammer:
The biggest tool in the publishing scammers tool kit is flattery. Publishing is an industry full of both rejection and insecure writers. Many authors are so desperate for praise that they rarely question the intentions of the person telling them their book will be the best big thing.
“Beware the flattered, my son.
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub Book Awards, and shun
The frumious Hybrid Publisher!”
Hat tip to Lewis Carroll.
Scammers prey on your fears. They make publishing sound like this intimidating, scary thing. This works because many authors are already afraid, often because they lack a proper publishing education. The more educated you are as an author, the harder you are to con.
Scammers also add artificial urgency and combine this with worry and flattery. Now to be fair, not all urgency is bad. Deadlines help us actually write after all, but scammers tend to add artificial urgency to keep you from having time to make a considered decision.
Money Saving Strategy #5 Develop a Marketable Skill
Time is a scarce resource. The hour you spent on TikTok yesterday can never be relived. But, the $10 you spent on that soy milk cappuccino, you can and will make another $10 in the future.
Interesting money and time are exchangeable. You can trade time for money working a job and trade money for time when you hire someone to help you. So, making money and saving money can have the same effect. In fact, doing something that makes you money can give you money to hire someone to do something for you saving you time.
As you develop your marketing and writing skills, you are developing skills people would be willing to pay you for. To help illustrate this, I want to share a testimonial that came in last week for my course Obscure No More.
When I first considered purchasing this course I balked at the price because I had already spent over $2,000 buying other “Book Marketing” courses. I am am a strong believer in information/education and I buy courses all the time. Some courses have saved me years of trial and error, but most have not been very good.
Something told me the Obscure No More Course was different and I should give it a good look…and boy am I glad I did! I can’t begin to tell you how valuable this course is for authors, but also for other types of businesses. There is literally years worth of information in this course and it is presented in a fast moving, easy to digest style that makes you want to jump in and do what it says. The website building module alone is worth the total price of the course.
How do I know?
Within one week of getting the course I had sold a custom WordPress website build to another business using the tips this course taught me. Selling that one website covered the entire cost of the course! If you never buy any other course for Author marketing in your life, buy this one. This course is a game changer, and by the way, I was asked to say any of this, it’s just the truth.” Signed, ‘Rockin’ Rick Bell – Author and Entertainer, and Lifelong ‘Obscure No More’ fanboy.
Thanks to Rick Bell, for his kind words! You can find him at RickBellWriting.com. And I will say he is not the only person making money using the website skills he learned in the Obscure No More course.
If you are looking for work, don’t forget we have a Job Board over at AuthorMedia.social.
If you want help building your platform, whether it is branding, your website, email, podcasting, blogging, or good old-fashioned public speaking, you should consider my course Obscure No More. In this course you will learn everything you need to know about building a rapid tribe of readers before your book comes out.
Don’t forget! Obscure No More officially comes out of beta at the end of 2022. So, if you want to get the Beta pricing, make sure to sign up before the end of the year and make sure to use the coupon code betatest at checkout.