I’ve spent 20 years working as a loan officer. Since technically I am self-employed, every year I’m bombarded by people wanting to sell me something they claim will increase my earning potential. Whether it’s a book, a seminar, or some type of marketing system, these salespeople are good at the hype. The sales pitch promises the next best thing, getting you excited about laying out money, but in the end, it’s just another disappointment. The truth is there is no magic bullet, you have to do the hard work.
Now that I’ve turned my main focus to writing, I find the same thing is true. There are so many books written about writing, numerous classes, conferences and auxiliary services that reach my inbox every day. People are anxious to offer their services with website design, social media platforms, editing, cover design, and the list goes on. If you want to be published, the array of information is overwhelming—especially when all we want to do is write.
While we all need some or all of these services, we all know there are times when we’ve regretted a purchase. So I asked our Lanterns to tell me what they consider the best money they’ve ever spent on their writing career. And wow, I got a wide variety of answers!
For Ana Brazil, it is money that she hasn’t spent yet.
“I’m going to spend my best money this August, when I hand my WIP over to my editor, a very talented mystery writer, teacher, and editor. She’s going to whip my WIP into shape, and let me know what needs to be added, what needs to be deleted, and what needs more work. Can’t wait!”
Rebecca D’Harligue also sings praises about her editor.
“The best money that I ever spent as a writer was hiring a developmental editor for my first novel. It was the first time anyone had really looked at the manuscript, and as it is a dual timeline novel, I was afraid that she would come back to me and say that I had half of two different novels. She didn’t though. She was very positive about my book, and in fact she said that she liked how I had connected the two timelines. She gave some helpful advice, of course, but I think the best thing was the boost that her positive feedback gave me. When I would doubt what I was doing, I’d go back and read her email, and I’d be able to write on.”
For Linda Ulleseit, it’s about having a supportive community.
“After I self-published my first four books, I was rather stuck as a writer. I didn’t understand marketing, and I had no social media presence at all. I had some idea where I needed to be, but no idea how to get there. For my fifth book, I decided to submit to a hybrid publisher. That would give me some control over the publishing process as well as a greater marketing base. I was thrilled to be offered a contract, and The Aloha Spirit was published last August. This was not a light decision, since the price tag was high (at that time it was $7500). It has, however, been the best money I’ve spent as a writer. Not only do I have a beautiful book, but I have a She Writes Press Facebook group with over 500 supportive ‘sisters’ that has been the nucleus of my growth as a marketer—revamping my website/blog, Instagram, Facebook, and of course, Paper Lantern Writers! The connections with other authors as both writers and readers has given me a great deal of pleasure in writing and, yes, even in marketing.”
Mari Christie’s dollars went to learning what she was born to do.
“Without hesitation, my degree in Writing from the University of Colorado Denver (summa cum laude and With Distinction). I built my career as a professional writer, to some extent successfully, with half a degree for twenty years. When I went back to school at age 35, I expected to “get a piece of paper” to validate what I already knew. Instead two important things happened: I became educated cross-functionally, and I learned that I could (and arguably should) write books. You don’t want to know what ungodly amount of money I paid for my cross-functional education, but it was, by far, the best money I ever spent in my writing journey.”
Kathryn Pritchett’s background as a design writer shines through in her answer.
“For years I worked in the corner of rooms intended for other things—a kitchen or a family room. But when we moved into a larger family home where I could have my own dedicated office, I purchased a nice oriental rug in shades of green, red and blue for the floor. I painted the walls a lively spring green to match. The rug was a splurge, but it was also a symbol that my office was more than an afterthought—it was my own writing space.
Edie Kay has simpler needs, but in my opinion, small things can be just as important to the creative process.
“The best money I ever spent as a writer was the $20 on my tea warmer. I just bought it last month. Writing is hard work, and it’s vital (for me, anyway) to have proper beverages and snacks at the ready. But if I get going on a draft, then my tea goes cold. The tea warmer keeps it tasty and toasty no matter when I get to it.”
For C.V. Lee, the best money spent was about becoming a bit more “high tech.”
“I always thought that a second monitor was something for engineers, computer programmers and other ‘techy’ people. But I have to admit, a second monitor made my writing life so much simpler. I can pop up my research notes without closing out of or minimizing my manuscript. And, as I’m one to print out my pages and move away from my computer to do my edits, it’s made making the revisions so much easier. I just scan the loose pages into a pdf and leave it open on a second screen. No more shuffling papers around and trying to read those tiny notations. I can enlarge them for easier reading. The time it saves me is invaluable.”
C.V. Lee writes historical biographical fiction featuring forgotten heroes and heroines of the past. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Alli, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. You can find her on Facebook @cvlee.histficwriter and on Instagram @cvleewriter.