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View Full Version : How much money have you invested in your writing?



butterfly
02-24-2011, 03:27 AM
Or would you rather not calculate it?

I've spent hundreds on books and the biggest expense being a laptop about six years ago. Now I'm fidgeting over a $700 online class.

I suppose if I average it out over the course of the time I've been writing it would be pennies per year which would make me happier, but I think that what I have invested is worth it.

How do you all feel about it?

Jessianodel
02-24-2011, 03:37 AM
Personally? Nothing as my laptop was a Christmas gift in 09. The only thing I have to pay for is notebooks and pens, which we have all over the house.

Then again I don't pay for internet but I use it so I could add that in for when I move out and have to support myself. But It'd all be worth it when I have to do that. And by that time I would have to buy my own pens and paper instead of foraging my house.

I don't think my parents would ever help pay for any online class so I'm completely on my own for anything out of those basic needs.

scarletpeaches
02-24-2011, 03:38 AM
Thousands, easily. If we're counting computers, peripherals, consumables, stationery, gadgets, books, all that stuff? An insane amount of money over the years.

Medievalist
02-24-2011, 03:40 AM
That's a trick question, for me. I spent a lot on my education, but did not plan, expect, intend or desire to become a full time writer.

But that's what happened.

Ruth2
02-24-2011, 03:40 AM
I bought my first copy of "The Writer's Handbook" when I was 10. That was 45 years ago.

There's no way to calculate how much I've spent. Countless books, magazines, notebooks, pens, several computers... a lifetime invested, really. How can I put a price on experience? It's all fodder...

However I'm doing research for a book now and some of it will take me overseas. For this I will keep very clear records for the hapless soul who receives my IRS forms. :)

veinglory
02-24-2011, 03:42 AM
Actual money? Almost nothing as I would have the laptop even if I didn't write. I am certainly well into a net proft.

Mr Flibble
02-24-2011, 03:42 AM
About 30 - 40 on a few books. Does travelling to a writers' group count? Add a couple of hundred there over the last couple of years. Probably 50 on paper.

Both my PC and laptop technically belong to hubby's company, so didn't/don't cost a bean.

That's it.

brainstorm77
02-24-2011, 03:43 AM
Not much other than a couple of writing books and postage for mailing back contracts. I'd have a computer and Internet regardless if I was writing or not.

amergina
02-24-2011, 03:55 AM
I have two degrees (BA and MFA) in writing, so I've invested quite a bit. More than I might ever see back from a career in writing fiction.

But, it was not at all a waste! My BA is from a school where I also the opportunity to work manning a computer help desk for three years. That and the writing degree landed me a job as a technical writer. And *that* has put a roof over my head, food in my belly, paid for my cars, and paid for my MFA.

So I think I came out ahead, in the grand scheme of things.

I still want to be published in fiction, though! :)

Polenth
02-24-2011, 04:17 AM
In direct spending, very little. I'd have a computer anyway and I minimise things like snail mail submissions. My website shares space with a hobby website I run, so the only thing I'm paying for extra is the domain. The most expensive thing was joining SFWA.

Indirectly, lots of money. I've brought endless books, fiction magazines and so forth. Without reading I wouldn't be writing.

thothguard51
02-24-2011, 04:27 AM
What is my time worth? Figure that out and then multiply by tens of thousands of hours...

For me it is not about the cost, as you just can not put a $$$ on something like writing. Its like asking me to estimate what I have spent on my kids from cradle to now and if it was worth it. You will always question if you did enough, or too much...

Karen Junker
02-24-2011, 04:33 AM
I'm not an accountant, but I attended a class once at a RWA conference where one gave us tips on how to file a tax return (US) to itemize your expenses as a writer. The only problem is you have to show an income from writing or after a while you can't claim the expenses any more because it's considered just a hobby.

But let's see. I buy books, paper, ink cartridges, rubber bands, binder clips, pens, pencils and all manner of Post-its and notebooks.

I go to at least two writing events per year (the Cascade Writers workshop and the Emerald City Writers Conference) if not more. I use my computer mostly for writing or critting other people's work, so that's writing related because it does help my writing skills.

It might be possible to deduct the mileage for driving to writing events, library events with writer instructors or to my critique group.

Adam
02-24-2011, 04:39 AM
Some writing books, couple of whiteboards, some regular books, pens, notebooks... Probably a couple hundred quid at most. :)

I enrolled in a writing course too, but that was a gift from my father.

scarletpeaches
02-24-2011, 04:39 AM
Don't forget the beard trimmer. Ever since your chinfungus got caught in the printer...ooh, nasty...

*shudders*

Adam
02-24-2011, 04:42 AM
Oh! The printer!

I forgot about that. I consigned it to the garage as the blood splatters made me ill, and out of sight, out of mind...

scarletpeaches
02-24-2011, 04:45 AM
It's easier if you just burn the words onto the page with your laser-vision these days, isn't it?

smcc360
02-24-2011, 05:10 AM
About a hundred bucks on how-to books. The laptop was a gift, so that's about it.

KathleenD
02-24-2011, 05:11 AM
Hrm.

I checked my tax return from last year. I claimed:

A copy of Writer's Market
A copy of Strunk & White
Printer ink
Postage (contract return, esubs don't cost anything)
A package of post-it flags
A box of pens

Only the printer ink was dodgy, since I never did get around to subbing my science fiction. Everything I made money on was epub or web journalism.

Can't claim my computers, I have them for my day jobs.

I don't do shows/cons, mainly because the cost for just one of the big ones would be an entire royalty check. Honestly, it's also because I used to run those things and (at least in my industry) they're strictly money makers for the hosts. Any benefit to the attendee is calibrated to be just enough to ensure return custom.

I also don't do classes or workshops unless I can get them free through my publisher.

So, under a hundred bucks a year. Unless you want to amortize the last fifteen years of hustling my ass off learning to string words together in a manner that entertains others ;)

LaurieD
02-24-2011, 05:19 AM
Haven't really thought about it until now, but let's see

Laptop was a gift - hubs wanted his back. But if I hadn't started writing again, I wouldn't have hijacked his.
Bought a couple publishers/agents books a few years ago.
Postage/envelopes/paper/ink when I was sending out picture book subs by snail mail.

Internet connection we'd have regardless, so that's about it.

Oh, and a bag for my laptop - had to have something to pack it in when I fly.

Karen Junker
02-24-2011, 05:47 AM
I don't do shows/cons, mainly because the cost for just one of the big ones would be an entire royalty check. Honestly, it's also because I used to run those things and (at least in my industry) they're strictly money makers for the hosts. Any benefit to the attendee is calibrated to be just enough to ensure return custom.

The one I put on now is a nonprofit organization. We've calculated the costs and split them among the 24 seats available, so we hope to break even. So, if you are looking for a workshop that isn't set up to make the organizers money, check ours out!

Shadow_Ferret
02-24-2011, 06:01 AM
Invested? Nothing.

Spent on stamps and paper and printing? Have no idea.

As far as the computers, they weren't bought solely for writing, I use them for a lot of things, so I don't consider it part of the equation.

Carlene
02-24-2011, 06:58 AM
Over the years, I shudder to think but a LOT. My hubby bless him never says no to me. Of course, he has this little exotic car habit, so it will take me years to catch up to him!

Carlene

KatieT
02-24-2011, 07:12 AM
Great question!

It made me remember how, when I was a kid, I would tell my mom that I needed more notebooks and pens/pencils, and she would be absolutely flabbergasted that I had gone through my previous supply stash so quickly. Sometimes, she didn't believe me, so I would show her the used paper and pens and she'd just shake her head :)

Aside from that, I've spent thousands of dollars between college classes, books, a writing desk, notebooks, pens/pencils, a laptop, countless hours on writing-related websites and forums, software to create my blog, etc.

And it's been worth every single penny!

DamaNegra
02-24-2011, 07:16 AM
About $30 in software and $20 in a critique group. Oh, and Jenna's book. That's about it. I'm not too big a spender, and would possess lots of stationery, post-its, and my laptop even if I didn't write. I'm weird that way.

AlwaysJuly
02-24-2011, 07:28 AM
I'd have a laptop whether I was writing or not, so that doesn't count. And I'm spoiled, and get to take writing classes for free at our amazing local writer's center. But...

$600 to attend a writer's conference in NYC

$150 on books about writing, rough estimate

$70-ish to join SCBWI

$50-ish on postage, manila envelopes and whatnot.

I'm debating whether to go to the SCBWI conference in LA this summer, take (and pay for) a class on revision, and/or join some other professional organizations.

thothguard51
02-24-2011, 07:51 AM
I am not a tax accountant, but I have been told that even though I use my equipment for other functions, I can still deduct a percentage of the equipments value as writing expense related. I also have a room in my house that is my office and I could deduct a percentage of the rooms use, my internet connection, etc as writing related. Long distance calls for example, if done on my land line.

Of course, all of this is only deductable if you own your house and itemize.

My X wife was a licensed home day care provider at one time and we got to deduct portions of the house where she did the day care; kitchen to fix meals and snacks, the dinning room, TV room, and back yard. It was a bitch because we had to figure out the average time used per day. There is a formula for this, and it helped so that she always broke even and didn't have to pay taxes on her earned income. Which also reduced the taxes we paid by filing jontly...

Shadow_Ferret
02-24-2011, 07:55 AM
Of course, all of this is only deductable if you own your house and itemize.


Wouldn't you actually need to be selling your writings? I'm not, so deducting things that a writer would use seems fraudulent to me.

Collectonian
02-24-2011, 08:03 AM
"invested"? Don't think any of it would really count as an investment at this point. For just plain spent....less than $100. $24 on a membership to a local writing group that was more a charity donation than investing in something I think will be useful. $40-50 printing one of my novels to edit and having it bound (second I printed at no cost). I'd have a laptop and a desktop whether I write or not, I'm a web geek and a software application developer :-P

Now, if I included the spending last year as NaNo ML, up it to around $300. :-P

Karen Junker
02-24-2011, 08:05 AM
Wouldn't you actually need to be selling your writings? I'm not, so deducting things that a writer would use seems fraudulent to me.

I'm pretty sure that you can deduct your expenses if you are working towards selling your work for (I think) three years (and after that, the IRS considers it a hobby if you haven't made any income yet) -- I am not a lawyer or a tax accountant, so I'm not advising you -- but that's what I remember being told in the class I took. It's like any other small business -- there is a startup period.

Libbie
02-24-2011, 08:07 AM
Well, my old laptop (which I got as a hand-me-down from my sis) died last year so I spent $700 on a new one. And I haven't ever spent more than $10 on books about writing (haven't found too many I really liked, and I buy most of my books second-hand). So unless you count my monthly internet bill for access to AW...then I've spent about $700 for a functional computer.

Shadow_Ferret
02-24-2011, 09:06 AM
I'm pretty sure that you can deduct your expenses if you are working towards selling your work for (I think) three years (and after that, the IRS considers it a hobby if you haven't made any income yet) -- I am not a lawyer or a tax accountant, so I'm not advising you -- but that's what I remember being told in the class I took. It's like any other small business -- there is a startup period.

Well, I've been writing unsuccessfully for 38 years.

willietheshakes
02-24-2011, 11:06 AM
Tens of thousands of dollars (starting with $9k annually for my writing studio for the last couple of years). Computers, books, pens, notebooks, flights, hotels, meals.

If we count booze, the tab soars.

(And for the record? I don't regret a penny of it.)

seun
02-24-2011, 02:20 PM
I could work it out but the figure would scare me...two computers, God knows how much paper, computery stuff like printers and discs, postage, a critique from a reputable company...

If it turned out to be less than several grand, I'd be surprised.

shaldna
02-24-2011, 02:32 PM
I've paid for a couple of notebooks over the years, and pens. My computer was a cheap model bought for playing games, so I don't think I can even count that, and my laptop was bought by my folks for me.

I've spent a lot on my education, but I started in science and did a science degree and masters, and then went back and did a literature degree and masters, most of which I only had to partially fund as I got grants and work paid for half of my masters.

jilly61
02-24-2011, 02:47 PM
I'd have the computer anyway so that doesn't count. My main expenses are postage and printing and I dread to think how they've added up over the years. I've also taken several writing courses. They bring the total up but they were helpful.

artemis31386
02-24-2011, 04:36 PM
Not much. I've spent money on my domain name and website, a couple of books, and notepads and pens.

KTC
02-24-2011, 04:45 PM
I spend money on laptops, workshops, books, whatever I feel I need. I am always having money coming in from my writing, so I don't feel 'wrong' putting money out for it. I always have more coming in than I have going out.

scarletpeaches
02-24-2011, 04:47 PM
I look upon it as an investment too. I've spent an insane amount of money on something that pays me back a thousandfold in joy.

Rhoda Nightingale
02-24-2011, 06:03 PM
Let's see...

I spent about $300 on my computer, but I don't really count that because I do things other than write on it.

I haven't spent money on notebooks in years, because people give me them every birthday and Christmas, without fail--pens, though, I probably spend between $15 and $20 per year.

Every trip I take to Kinko's (because I haven't invested in my own printer yet) costs me around $30, give or take, and that happens around.....three or four times a year? It'll wind up being more once I get deeper into this submission process, I'm sure, but as of now that's all I've "spent."

$40 a year on the new edition of Writer's Market, plus countless other magazines and How-To books and novels that I read for "research."

$40 on MarsCon, plus $50 a night for the hotel, a couple years ago.

If we're counting education, then $30,000 a year for my four years of college, the loan for which I dutifully pay off in increments every month, although of course my mom pays even more each month for that loan, plus whatever it cost us to go to a private high school.

$35 a year for my out-of-towner library card.

My flash drive cost about $30, I think, but it was a gift.

$10-$20 on envelopes, both to self-address and stamp and the bigger manila ones to send partials in, from Office Max.

I forget how much stamps cost, but I get a new book of those two or three times a year.

thothguard51
02-24-2011, 06:09 PM
I'm pretty sure that you can deduct your expenses if you are working towards selling your work for (I think) three years (and after that, the IRS considers it a hobby if you haven't made any income yet) -- I am not a lawyer or a tax accountant, so I'm not advising you -- but that's what I remember being told in the class I took. It's like any other small business -- there is a startup period.

Yes,

Nick Blaze
02-24-2011, 06:25 PM
I did not buy my books with the intent of becoming a writer, nor my computer, nor my schooling. So, essentially, a hundred dollars perhaps, on notebooks, pencils/pens, and other things.

Phaeal
02-24-2011, 07:33 PM
Lotsa, lotsa books.

Lotsa, lotsa postage.

SFWA dues.

Domain names, websites and other networking what not.

The occasional conference.

Mag subs.

Paper, printer ink, all those lovely Moleskine notebooks and Parker Jotter pens. And binders and folders and files and other yummy bits of office store gear.

Caramel lattes.

Looks like it's adding up, but still cheaper than extensive psychotherapy. :D

cwfgal
02-24-2011, 09:32 PM
Good grief, I hardly know where to begin...

There were at least three typewriters, one word processing unit, and several computers, though I'd have the computer now even if I wasn't writing. There were reams and reams of paper, carbons, ribbons and ink cartridges, years of buying Writer's Market, years of postage and envelopes, and a varied assortment of writing-related books.

I also used all but one of my college electives on writing courses, though they were courses I would have had to take anyway. I did once pay another published novelist who taught one of the above writing classes to "tutor" me through a novel (the best investment I made). I attended writer's conferences, but only after I was published. Then there were trips to visit my agent and editor...and trips to bookstores for promotions and signings (none of which were paid for by my publisher).

Nowadays most of my money goes toward computer related stuff and promotional expenses. I'm sure my total is in the thousands and thousands of dollars range but as Peaches said, it's been worth every penny.

Beth

screamingturnip
02-24-2011, 09:37 PM
Good deal of my earnings overall. 10-25 dollars.

edit: sorry, in all seriousness $350 ish, but that is a chunk for me.

Chris P
02-24-2011, 09:38 PM
Actual outlay for stuff, not much. Just a few books on self-editing, King's On Writing, etc. The computer was given as a gift, and I needed it for my part-time job anyway. Add in some postage here and there, and some of my own copies of my POD novella.

I did spend a weekend in Nashville to get the lay of the land for a book, so add a couple hundred for gas, hotel, meals, etc.

Where it really adds up is in the amount of contract editing work I forewent to write. But it was worth it. I'd rather write my own stuff than correct other people's any time.

muravyets
02-24-2011, 09:42 PM
The low overhead of writing is one of the things that drew me to it as a potential income source. The computer is all-purpose, and I would have bought the books anyway, so I discount those. I haven't yet done any writing-related travel so that doesn't count. I avoid a lot of printing out because, you know, the environment 'n stuff. Printing full manuscripts is a job for Kinko's - much cheaper than doing it at home.

So ballpark, I think my writing expenses average maybe $200/year on pens, fountain pen ink, notebooks and loose paper.

The time involved? My creative process is so chaotic, I don't bother to track my hours, beyond an estimated average -- 4 hours/day at $20/hour times how many days from start to finish... but all my experience in that is in pricing artworks, which is a whole different game.

SJAB
02-24-2011, 10:00 PM
I look upon it as an investment too. I've spent an insane amount of money on something that pays me back a thousandfold in joy.

This sums it up for me, besides I know folk that have paid out more over the years in fags and booze and got nothing to show for it.

Jamesaritchie
02-24-2011, 10:40 PM
This really is a trick question. Does a college degree count?

Even if not, I've bought at least 20,000 books, probably double that number, several typewriters, three standalone word processors, five computers, endless amounts of paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, etc. Hundreds of magazine subscriptions. Several desks, office chairs, filing cabinets, lamps, and all sorts of this and thats for an office, ranging from carbon paper to file folders to paper clips to stick pins, on and on and on.

If I really wanted to, I could sit down and itemize pretty much every penny I've spent in the last thirty years because every last thing I've purchased comes off my taxes, and I count it all. If I buy a nice office chair, I'm not giving that money to the IRS again. If I buy a pencil, same deal. A magazine subscription or a novel, more deductions.

So in a real sense, I haven't spent anything on writing. The money I make either goes for things I can use for my writing life, or it goes to the IRS. Either way, it's no longer in my bank account. Where it goes is a very easy choice.

adarkfox
02-25-2011, 03:47 AM
I've taken to look at writing as a smaller-scale version of my equine hobby.
Money goes in, a pathetic dollar amount comes back with a load of happiness. Can't put a price on happiness-if there was I'd never be able to afford it.

Elijah Sydney
02-25-2011, 08:35 AM
As far as ventures go, writing is cheap. People invest millions into movies, stage productions, etc, and sometimes lose a good proportion of it. We’ve got it easy. The only real expense is time. But if I wasn’t trying to be a writer, I’d probably whittle my time away on gaming or vegetating in front of a TV. I’d still read, so I can’t really say buying books is chewing up anything extra.

I’m not the only person in my house using the Oxford Dictionaries.
And I need my computer for work, so I can’t include that.

Sum total over x number of years:
Half a dozen or so how to write books and a couple reams of paper… $200.00.

If I were to work things out on an hourly basis, however, the results would be dismal. So far I’ve probably been working for .05 cents an hour. In lost wages that works out kind of astronomical.

The real cost depends on whether I consider it a hobby or a profession, I suppose.

Kitty27
02-25-2011, 08:46 AM
18.99 for a fifth of Tanqueray.

3.99 for a jug of grapefruit juice.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTH2fDzyqOM


There are times when a writer must have a stiff drink or else start crying.

The Grump
02-25-2011, 09:11 PM
Too much. I should have known that setting up a writer's site would be expensive -- even if I subtract out the original artwork. [expensive = more than $5.00]

Smaddux
02-25-2011, 09:40 PM
I already have a laptop and internet, so I would say about 500 for books, supplies and memberships.

JRVogt
02-25-2011, 09:50 PM
Hoo boy. Let's see. I won't calculate firm numbers, but it has certainly racked up over the years. At least a half-dozen writing conferences and fan conventions. Couple dozen books (though some were gifts from friends/family). New laptop at one point. Tons of paper and ink and stamps for postal queries and submissions over at least five years. A couple memberships with Colorado writing organizations.

And are we counting the many unpaid hours of writing labor?

Sheesh.

But worth it!

BlackBriar
02-25-2011, 10:12 PM
About $100 for a copy of Scrivener, Elements of Style and Self Editing for Fiction Writers, and some journals.

Christine N.
02-26-2011, 04:41 AM
Wouldn't you actually need to be selling your writings? I'm not, so deducting things that a writer would use seems fraudulent to me.

Not necessarily. If you can prove you've been submitting to publishers and agents, it's considered a business, even if you're not making anything. If you attend conferences and pay membership fees to professional organizations, take writing classes, etc.. you can write them off, including mileage and tolls. You can also write of stuff like Scrivener, books you buy in your genre (market research), and even that ebook reader IF you can prove you're using it in pursuit of a writing career.

You'll take a loss if you don't sell anything, and there are rules about how many years you can do that before it becomes a hobby, and if you're not making money it may be a bigger PITA than seems worth it.

But you can do it. It's like how you can sometimes write off job-seeking expenses if you can prove you've been looking for a job. Especially if you're looking for a job in a new locale, some of that can be written off.

Crayonz
02-26-2011, 05:41 AM
About ten bucks, which was used to buy On Writing by Stephen King. All the paper, pens and my computer would've been bought regardless.

leighh
02-26-2011, 07:04 AM
There are times when a writer must have a stiff drink or else start crying.

Well, if we're going to start factoring drinking expenses, then I'm not nearly so close to coming out ahead.;)

For real, though, I haven't spent much. I shelled out for a license for Scrivener, and for a domain name. (I already had paid hosting for another site.) Hmm. And then there's all the novels and other books I've purchased in the name of "research" or "inspiration," but who am I kidding? I was going to buy those anyway. Same goes for all that coffee I've drunk.

If we're going to talk about how much I've spent on my blog...well, let's not. :tongue It started as a beauty product review blog (I've since expanded the focus), and that adds up when you're not a big enough name to get samples!

Sharpshooter
02-26-2011, 08:12 PM
Hi,

Hundreds of $ I suppose over the years; just started keeping track of research & other expenses. Current project so far: $312.11. How specific is that?