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Writing By the Numbers (Part 1)

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In December I wrote about an attempt in 2015 to be more transparent in my blogging endeavors and I began with an Annual Review which was fairly extensive and covered the up’s and down’s of my writing adventures in 2014.

An idea that I’ve been batting around for several months now (and hasn’t really been answered in other blogs that I’ve read on writing) is:

Can you put a dollar amount on being a writer?

I thought that this was an interesting question. Outside of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory, or the expenses incurred pursuing an MFA in Writing, can you put a dollar amount on the tools, technology, classes, workshops, professional memberships, etc. that are part of becoming a writer, or managing the business of being a writer once you’ve begun?

I find the behind-the-scenes of artists’ craft fascinating and enjoy reading how writers and artists use their time — but I’ve yet to find anyone talking about the EXPENSE of being an artist/writer/musician. So, I resolved to sit down and crunch some numbers and share the results out there (which I’m sure vary based on background, resources available, etc.).

Curious about my findings? Keep reading to learn more.

Prices when known were listed, otherwise, prices are based on current market value (of August 06th, 2014). Bargain bin prices were estimated as 0.50 for PB, 1.00 for HD.

Breakdown: Books on Writing, Research and Productivity (Dates Unknown)
Date: Title: Author: Price:
 First Draft in 30 Days Karen Wiesner  $15.18
 The Eleventh Draft: Craft and the Writing Life from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop Frank Conroy  $4.95
 Novel Ideas: Contemporary Authors  Margaret Love Denman, Barbara Shoup  $21.06
 Description (The Elements of Fiction Writing, series)  Monica Wood Bargain Bin
 Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World  Michael Hyatt  $24.99
 More Books Lust  Nancy Pearl Bargain Bin
 Bird by Bird  Anne Lamott  $10.09
 No Plot? No Problem!  Chris Baty  $12.46
 The Random House Thesaurus  Random Bargain Bin
 How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy  Orson Scott Card Bargain Bin
 The Writer’s Journey  Chris Vogler  $17.97
 This Year You Write Your Novel  Walter Mosley  $5.30
 Dictionary and Word Origins  Various Bargain Bin
 Eats, Shoots and Leaves  Lynne Truss  $9.98
 The Describer’s Dictionary  Various Bargain Bin
 Writing Fiction Step by Step  Various Bargain Bin
 Scene and Structure  Various Bargain Bin
 How to Write and Sell a Christian Novel  Gilbert Morris  $5.76
 Write Right!  Jan Venolia  $11.60
 2009 Poet’s Market  Various  $21.74
 2009 Writer’s Market  Various  $12.00
 TOTAL: $179.48
Breakdown: Books on Writing, Research, and Productivity (Dates Grouped by Year)
Date: Title: Author: Price:
2009 Micro Fiction: An Anthology of Fifty Really Short Stories Jerome Stern  $10.60
Flash Forward Fiction: 80 Very Short Stories Robert Shapard, James Thoma  $10.61
2010 The Screenwriter’s Bible: A Complete Guide To Writing, Formatting and Selling Your Script, 4th ed. (2005) David Trotter $15.61
 Create a Language Clinic  Holly Lisle  $9.95
 Create a Plot Clinic  —  $9.95
 Create a Culture Clinic  —  $9.95
How To Write Page-Turning Scenes  —  $9.95
2011  Poetry Dictionary  John Drury  $13.97
Writing Bestselling Children’s Books (52 Brilliant Ideas)  Alexander Gordon Smith  FREE
Write That Book Already! The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Sam Barry, Kathi Kamen Goldmark  FREE
Writing a Novel with Scrivener David Hewson  $5.99
WordPress Power Guide: Using WordPress to Blog Your Way to Success Lambert Klein  $3.97
Creating Strong Protagonists (Screenwriting Blue Books, Bk 7) William C. Martell  $2.99
Your Idea Machine (Screenwriting Blue Books, Bk 1)  —  $2.99
1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More  Bryan Cohen  $2.99
Social Media Marketing For Writers: How To Blog, Tweet and Peep Your Way Onto Amazon’s Best Seller’s List  Edie Melson  $0.99
 Get Published  Infinite Ideas  FREE
The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the Story Within  Alan Watt  $9.99
Plotting Simplified: Story Structure Tips for the Break-Out Novelist  Eddie Jones  $0.99
The Story Book: A Writer’s Guide to Story Development, Principles, Problem Resolutions and Marketing David Baboulene  $1.99
Writing Fiction For All You’re Worth: Strategies and Techniques for Taking Your Fiction To the Next Level  James Scott Bell $2.99
 Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure  $1.99
Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence  Roz Morris  $4.99
How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!  John Locke  $4.99
 Writing Fiction for Dummies  Peter Economy, Randy Ingermanson  $8.99
2012 The Productive Writer: Tips & Tools to Help You Write More, Stress Less, and Create Success  Sage Cohen  $6.80
Get Known Before the Book Deal: Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform  Christina Katz  $5.69
 2011 Writers Market  Robert Lee Brewer, ed.  $8.46
 Story Engineering  Larry Brooks  $1.99
The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide: How to Make Revisions, Self-Edit and Receive Feedback Becky Levine $8.99
Creating Space: The Case for Everyday Creativity  Ed Cyzewski  $0.99
2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love  Rachel Aaron  $0.99
How I Overcame Writers’ Block and 100 Reasons Why I Nearly Didn’t  Gillian Rogerson  FREE
Expert Blogging: How To Build a Blog for Readers  Nick Thacker  $4.99
 The Busy Writer’s One Hour Plot  Marg McAlister  $1.99
Getting Things Done: Simple Secrets to Stress-Free Productivity Michelle Evans  FREE
Building an Author Platform that can Launch Anything  Toby Neal  $0.99
 StoryStarters  Clifford Fryman  $2.99
 Professional Plot Outline Mini-Course  Holly Lisle  $0.99
 How to Think Sideways, Lesson 1  $4.99
 How to Think Sideways, Lesson 2  —  $4.99
The Author’s Guide to Publishing Success  Jeff Bennington $2.99
A Writer’s Guide To Harry Potter: How To Improve Your Writing by Studying the Bestselling Series  S.P. Sipal  $4.99
What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast  Laura Vanderkam  $2.99
Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People who are Poking the Box and Making a Difference Seth Godin  FREE
 How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent  Noah Lukeman  FREE
 Write Good or Die  Scott Nicholson, et al.  FREE
What do Best-Selling Kindle Authors Have in Common? Three Characteristics that May Surprise You Letitia Gage  FREE
Inspire Me With Writing Ideas  Carla Acheson  FREE
Instant Inspiration Fiction Writing Guide  Judi Ann Howarth  FREE
The Writer’s Manifesto: Rules for Writing With Class  Ramy Tadros  FREE
 Writing Your Book  Dan Poynter  FREE
 How to Write a Novel in Ten Weeks  Joanne Reid  FREE
You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)  Jeff Goins, Sarah Mae  FREE
The Writer’s Adventure Guide: 12 Stages To Writing Your Book  Beth Barany  FREE
Inspired Creative Writing (52 Brilliant Ideas)  Alexander Gordon Smith  FREE
Break Into Fiction: 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells  Mary Buckham, Dianna Love  FREE
2013 The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing  Jeff Goins $14.88
How To Build a Powerful Writer’s Platform in 90 Days Austin Briggs, Max Candee $4.99
2014 The Writer’s Conference Survival Guide  Unknown  $15.00
Oxygen: Writer’s Journey Edition  Randy Ingermanson  $4.99
Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots  William Wallace Cook $24.11
Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered  Austin Kleon  $7.18
 Turning Pro Steven Pressfield, Shawn Coyne $7.39
 Do the Work  Steven Pressfield  $4.99
 The War of Art  —  $9.99
Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success  K.M. Weiland  $4.99
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story  —  $4.99
Wake Up Successful: How to Increase Your Energy and Achieve Any Goal with a Morning Routine  S.J. Scott  $0.99
The Morning Ritual Blueprint: How to Wake Up Early, Energetic and Ready to Achieve Your Goals James Banner  $2.99
From Procrastinator to Producer: How To Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done – No Matter How Hard Your “Lazy Side” Resists  Chaiwat Theerasong  $0.99
Write Blog Posts Readers Love: A Step-By-Step Guide  Juntilla Henri  $2.99
A Novel Idea: Story Structure Tips for the Break-Out Novelist  Eddie Jones  $0.99
Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less  S.J. Scott  $2.99
Work Smarter, Play Longer: 33 Strategies to Boost Your Productivity Tara Ross  $0.99
How To Find a Profitable Blog Topic Idea  Steve Scott  $0.99
How To Write Great Blog Posts That Engage Readers $0.99
Blog It! The author’s guide to building a successful online brand  Molly Greene  $3.99
31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo  Bryan Allain $4.26
Write Your Novel From the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsters and the Everyone in Between  James Scott Bell  $3.99
The Essential Book Blog: The Complete Bibliophile’s Toolkit for Building and Monetizing Your On-Line Book-Lover’s Community  Ken J. Howe, et al.  $3.99
Writing Habit Mastery: How to Write 2,000 Words a Day and Forever Cure Writer’s Block  S.J. Scott  $3.99
Phoenix Rising: Conquering the Stresses of the Writer’s Life  Cate Russell-Cole  $2.99
The Beggar at the Gate & Other Short Stories: HNS London 12 Short Story Anthology Various  $2.99
 TOTAL: $359.85
Totals for both book categories combined: $539.33

Considering this covers roughly a six-year period, spending a little less than $100.00 a year on writing books/reference/productivity didn’t seem too extravagant.

Maybe I was wrong after all?

At this point, I had considered trying to estimate office supplies, like pens, printer ink, computer paper, journals, planners, calendars, etc. and realized that this would be a completely futile attempt. It’s not something that I’ve ever kept track of with any consistency, and this varies considerably by year, so I elected not to factor it in at all.

But what else could I possibly include when factoring in the cost of becoming a writer and doing business as a writer?

Quite a bit more, actually!  Check this space later this week for Part 2!

This entry was posted in: Writing


Lauren Miller is a Midwestern born writer with a passion for Jesus, the written word, and dogs. She has two decades of experience in the library field and reviews books for the Historical Novels Review (UK). She likes to spend her free time enjoying period films, discovering new reads, and being surrounded by other people’s pets. Lauren, her husband, and their wily Maine Coon (who isn’t quite a dog) live in Missouri. You can learn more about Lauren’s writing at LaurenJoanMiller.com.

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