What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I will have to split my answer to this week’s prompt into two categories: 1)writer and 2) author. It may seem like an exercise in semantics, but the distinction is important. In addition to my short stories and books, I do a TON of writing in different spheres that have required me to spend money in varying amounts and capacities.
You guys know how I get. Bear with me.
Remember the writing a TON I mentioned? I was not exaggerating. I regularly contribute to at least three online platforms. I write for the newsdesk at the online publication About Islam and the human interest blog for the Muslim design company Haute Hijab.
Then there is my baby, NbA Muslims on Patheos’s Muslim Channel. I started the blog as a cultural platform highlighting the productions of native-born American (NbA) Muslims, a social group often ignored. It has become a means for me to make connections and establish a name in academic and social conversations about American Muslim experiences.
Funding the launch and promotion of NbA Muslims continues to be the best money I spend.
It is not a king’s ransom and comparatively far less than the expenses that come with publishing a book. Before transferring the blog to Patheos, I paid for the WordPress hosting and domain. I no longer have that expense. I also pay for the business email account and social media promotion. Both are critical to making and keeping NbA Muslims a point of reference in American Muslim culture, which has opened doors and established my academic brand. So, it remains money well spent.
I am excited to see the rest of the blog hop authors’ responses. I often question the wiseness of some of the buying decisions I have made as an author. I spent a lot of time researching where indie authors need to put their precious and limited budget. Despite my best efforts, I got some things wrong, and cringe at the things that I poured my money into thinking it was the “author thing to do.”
Some of the bad decisions resulted from budgeting for essentials but selecting professionals who did not perform well. For example, for my first novel, My Way to You, I made sure to hire a content, line and copy editor as well as a proofreader. I anticipated that the bulk of my self-publishing budget would go to editing, which is ideally the “best money” an author can spend. Imagine my chagrin when I received a number of critiques about the need for my story to be edited.
I just cried, mourning the money that I basically poured down the drain and a shaky premier novel because of issues with execution that almost completely exhausted my budget. It left me scared to put my next novel in anybody’s hands. No joke, I trust none of you!
I would love to write that editing was the best money I spent as an author, but, alas!
I was fortunate to find a fantastic cover designer for my books. I raked through artists and images trying to find someone who could encapsulate the novel’s main characters, Simon and Regina. After figuratively kissing a lot of frogs, someone recommended Taria Reed. She had the perfect interracial couple pose and created an incredible cover depicting Simon and Regina’s love and wanting to shut themselves away from the world.
Readers mentioned being drawn to the book because of the cover. Any author flaking on theirs is making a big mistake.
That’s it! Amazing. Taria’s creation was not the least expensive quoted, but hiring her was the best use of my publishing budget as well as a major stress relief. I was able to stop obsessing over the cover and concentrate on promotion. When it came to the cover for book 2, Sweet Love, Bitter Fruit, Taria was emailed immediately. I still wonder at how creates such stunning work from my basic concept descriptions.
Writers spend money to share their words. How much varies but on what remains pretty constant – editing, graphics, promotion. Find the optimal professionals and platforms in all three.