Writing By the Numbers (Part 2)

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Earlier this week I shared Part 1 of Writing by the Numbers, in which I looked at the types and quantity of books accumulated over the years relevant to pursuing writing. Today I want to share with you Part 2, in which I try to resolve the question, “Can you put a dollar amount on becoming a writer?”


Breakdown: Apps & Writing Software

 Software:  Price:
 OfficeSuite Professional 7  $0.99
 Polaris Office  $0.99
 Name Dice  FREE
 Pocket Writers  FREE
 Writing Challenge – Creative Prompt  $0.99
 Lists for Writers  $1.99
 Story Plot Generator  $0.99
 Writing  FREE
 Fiction Idea Generator  FREE
 A Day in Life: Journal and Visual Diary  $1.99
 Olive Office Premium  $0.99
 Scrivener  $45.00
 Write or Die  $9.99
 Writer’s Dream Kit 4.1  $59.99
 Dramatica Pro 4.1  $129.00
 iWork ’08  $74.00
 Coffitivity  FREE
 Snowflake Pro 1.1.1  $100.00
 WriteRoom  $9.99
 Total:  $436.90

Those of you familiar with Office programs for Kindle might question the quoted prices for Polaris Office (normally runs $12.99) and OfficeSuite Professional 7 (normally runs $14.99). These I got in an insane special on Amazon’s app page where they were a dollar a piece for the full program. Now, you can’t beat that!

Breakdown: Educational Courses on Writing

  Title:   Price:
 Fiction 101 Lecture Series  $80.00
 Fiction 201 Lecture Series  $85.00
 Introduction to Creative Writing: Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction  $303.00
 Fiction Workshop  $303.00
 Fiction Writing  $303.00
 Writing a Short-Short Story  $1860.00
 Introduction to Screenwriting  $1860.00
 Advanced Screenwriting  $1860.00
Total:  $6654.00

Obviously, college courses are going to be one of your biggest expenses if you decide to go that route. Although I elected not to pursue an MFA, these undergraduate courses did introduce me to some new areas of writing that I might not have exposed to outside of an academic setting and I’m grateful for the people and the writing techniques I learned.

Breakdown: Other Writing Expenses You Don’t Think About (Like Conference Fees, Professional Memberships, Running a Website, etc.)

  Item:  Price:
 Web hosting (2 years @ introductory rate) $104.75
 Renew name registration (1 year)  $13.99
 Renew name registration (2 years)  $29.98
 Purchase second domain registration (1 year)  $11.98
 Domain mapping for two domains (1 year)  $26.00
 Wordpress.org Plug-ins  $35.00
 ThemeForest web design (no longer using)  $43.00
 Stock image purchases (so you don’t have to credit the artist)  $55.00
 Web design accents  $28.25
 Business cards and matching address labels (for the thousands of people you’ll meet and all that fan mail to answer)  $59.47
 2012 Weekender Conference Registration  $50.00
 Guild Membership dues (annual x2)  $84.00
 Contributions to Writing Contests and Competitions  $20.00
 Cool writing prompt toys for writing contests and competitions (because it seemed like a good idea at the time)  $29.95
 Post Office Box Registration Fees (1.5 years to date – still waiting on that fan mail to arrive) $118.00
 T-shirt to celebrate “You’re an Author now!”  $10.00
 File cabinet (to store all of my writing/future fan mail in)  $50.00
Total: $769.37

Web design is one of those areas where you can really splurge and although this total may look like a lot (to sum of you), a OOAK web template for your business can easily cost you $400.00 (on the low-end) to a thousand or more.

I feel like I’ve been relatively modest in terms of expenditures in this category and I’ve actually curtailed my spending (as I discussed in my 2014 Year-End Review: Writer’s Edition). But all of this does add up, so, just to tally everything from Part 1 and Part 2, let’s take a look at the grand total.

Breakdown: The Final Tally

 Category:  Total:
 Books on Writing, Research and Productivity  $539.33
 Apps & Writing Software  $436.90
 Educational Courses on Writing  $6654.00
 Other Writing Expenses You Don’t Think About  $769.37
Grand Total: $8399.60

I believe these calculations are accurate to the best of my knowledge and belief. You can certainly argue that the numbers have been inflated by including college courses but to be fair, I can’t remember half of the courses I’ve taken on writing and composition over the years and I’m fairly certain there’s more I could include, and haven’t.

Assuming that your writing eventually is good enough to pitch to an agent and be accepted and shopped around to publishers, you’ll probably want to hire a professional editor to get you to that point and there may be hidden expenses in the publishing business that I haven’t learned about yet.

I can tell you that if you go the indie route (like some of my friends have), you’ll still be looking at hiring a professional editor, maybe an in-line editor too (to make sure the inside of the book is just as pretty as the outside!), a photographer for a professional headshot/action shot for your Media package, a cover artist/illustrator/designer, fees paid directly to the self-publishing company you go with, and probably other miscellaneous costs too.

So, anticipate on crossing the $10,000.00 threshold before you really get your feet wet. Results may vary.

At the beginning of my analysis, I referenced Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule. Like the $10,000., you eat the elephant one bite at a time, and at that rate, $1.00/hr doesn’t sound so bad. Do I recommend that people spend money in the same places/way that I have? Definitely not (as if you couldn’t tell from my asides!).

But I’m curious and I’m throwing down the gauntlet.  Have you ever seriously examined your craft/art/hobby for all those little expenditures that add up?

How much does it cost to become/be a ___________ (musician, potter, artist, dancer, actor, knitter, etc.)?

Share in the comments below, or write your own blog post and leave me a link in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you discover.


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