This Writer’s FY09 Budget Report

This weekend, I’ll be heading down to Atlanta for the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference, sponsored by the Georgia Romance Writers.  I hear it’s a good conference to go to and it’s not that big.  I guess so.  This will be my first time there.  Also, I’ll be signing a few copies of Unstable Environment.  I’m looking forward to the booksigning event on Saturday and hanging out with fellow writers.  That’s the main reason why I’m going. 

This will most likely be my last conference for a long time.  I have other things going on in my life right now that will keep me busy for a while.  Not to mention my 3% raise won’t cover the 10% raise in conference fees that are happening across the board.  The only math that makes sense to me is to stay home.  So, that’s what I’m going to do in 2009. 

Writing loops are on the chopping block, too.  There’s only one loop I’m certain I’ll hang onto at this point.  I joined most of them to get the discount with the online classes, but I’ve stopped taking those because I learn best by doing.  While it didn’t cost a lot to join, it would be nice to get something out of them.   Besides, I’d prefer to allocate that money towards writers groups that are more along the lines of what I write. 

Subscriptions?  Gone.  I’ve already eliminated two and I’m on the fence with a third.  The only thing that subscription has going for it is the renewel date.  Unless something interesting happens between now and June, I’m not holding my breath. 

And I don’t recall if I mentioned this before, but I’m in a book-buying fast.  No more new books.  Period.  The only exceptions are those authors who are on my auto-buy list.  I have more than enough books in my TBR mountain range to sate my reading appetite.  When my fast will let up, I have no idea.  To be honest with you, I’ve been fasting for about a month now.  So far, so good.

So are there any adjustments you’ve made to your writing budget for next year?


30 thoughts on “This Writer’s FY09 Budget Report

  1. Marcia, this was my next topic for my personal blog that I was thinking of writing tomorrow. I’ve been on a self-imposed budget for a long time. I still buy books, but I mostly use the library. I heart my library!

    Right now, the one adjustment is I probably won’t enter the GH this year.

  2. Marcia, I didn’t realize that conference fees had increased that much. Yikes! How do they justify it?

    I have already cut back on membership fees. Once I let the RWA membership lapse, the chapter memberships went along with it by default. As far as book spending – I’m like Edie. I heart my library, too, but if a book comes out by a favorite author, I’ll buy it. But all the others are just going to get borrowed.

    As far as online classes, WritersU has really good ones and you don’t have to be an RWA member in order to sign up.

  3. Hey Marcia! Since the financial crisis many lives will change. I just heard on the news for the first time they actually compared it to a Financial Pearl Harbor. I kid you not. I won’t be going to conferences, buying much in the line of new clothes, and I’m cutting back on books…a lot. I”m worried about Christmas now, cause I really, really enjoy it and we have five grandkids that I love to spoil. We’ll see, but I might have to drop my usual budget and do a less expensive one this year. It breaks my heart, but we’ll see how it goes. I already renewed RWA so I’m good for a year, after that it’s anyone’s guess.

  4. Cynthia Eden will be at the con you’re going to, can’t remember if you know her or not, but she’s a sweetie, you guys should meet.

    I’ve never been to a con. Can’t justify the expense. Someday maybe. I think it would be fun. And I could focus all my time on hanging with other writers, maybe doing a few craft related and promo workshops, but staying out of the query frenzy or mad agent dash. (I know I make big tradeoffs here, but there is this huge freedom now in knowing I NEVER have to court an agent or publisher. Just…dont’ have to do it. I relish this in the same way I relish waking up at noon, while most other people get up at 6 am or earlier to go sit in a cubicle. Yes, I know, I’m evil.)

    I don’t really do writing loops. They tend to be focused around jealousy and bickering and I dont’ have time for that. In fact I once got into a long stupid argument with a writer who I actually really like as a person, but I always wonder if our interactions have been influenced by that big argument. I think loops often bring out the worst in writers and people in general. And while I do have to promote my work, I don’t think writing loops are the best place to do it. In fact, though it would seem logical, I don’t think writers are the best people to market books to period. We’re so book savvy our TBR piles are mountains. Too competitive, no one has time.

    I think it’s better to figure out demographics for more occasional readers who might buy a book on a whim and enjoy it, but who isn’t such a bibliophile they’ve got three hundred books to read before yours. I don’t think this idea is obvious to everyone, but it is to me. I don’t want to be three hundred and one on someone’s to do list. Good intentions aren’t sales.

    I don’t do subscriptions either, because it’s all the same recycled BS every single time. And half the time I get frustrated with things that dont’ apply to me but are written as if they MUST apply to me OMG or I’m not a real whatever…run! 😛

    Also, blogs provide most of that information for free if you know where to go.

    I am on a book buying fast, but that’s largely because I have 20 completely new unread novels on my shelf. I can’t justify buying more until I get through these first. And I’ll never get through them if I keep buying more.

  5. Edie makes a very good point about libraries. In my initial marketing plan, Libraries weren’t a large focus for my sales plan, but now I’m researching on how to get into the library market. With this economy library sales will still be tough to get, but, if you can get them, I think it helps overall. Plus library sales are non-returnable. Unlike bookstores.

  6. Edie, I FINALLY found my local library without having to go across town for the other one. I’m soooooo happy. Heck, I just might donate a few bucks (and books) to them, if it saves me money over the long run.

    And go ahead with your blog. We can tag-team or something. 😉 With the way things are going financially, it bares repeating.

  7. That’s what I don’t get, Kathy. HOW in the world do they justify it?? People are in an economic crisis and that’s a good reason to up the prices? Soon, it’s going to be like the airlines where few people will fly because the amenities suck and you have to shovel out more money for something that should automatically be included in the costs.

    My RWA membership is in question right now. The one group that I really want to hang on to, requires I keep my RWA membership. That’s the part that just sucks eggrolls.

    I see what you mean by WritersU. Even though they might charge a little more, the lineup they have is worth is.

  8. Guess what I’m doing, Zoe? I’m “staying out of the query frenzy and mad agent dash” this go around. Like an author said on another blog, a dman good query letter and manuscript can have the same effects.

    As for writer’s loops, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the butt-ugly. The only loop I want to stay on is one that rarely has any of the bad and the butt-ugly. Not to mention, I get something out of it and it’s more along the lines of what I write. It’s not perfect, but it is very acceptiong of urban fantasy whether romance is involved or not. Is it worth the $75 and another $25 to be a part of it? That’s where I’m torn.

    I love going to cons. I especially like Dragon Con, although it’s not entirely geared toward writing. I LOVE Romantic Times because they’re very accepting regardless of what you write or how you got published. Self-published, included. In fact, I’ve bought some of the those self-published books that I didn’t know existed until I went to RT and met the authors behind them. But regardless of the conference or the convention, if they’re charging you an arm, leg, and spinal cord to be there, then it’s not worth it. Why spend hundreds of dollars to sell five books, if you’re lucky? Granted you get a LOT of freebie books in the process, but you have to make sure it’s stuff that you actually read or it’s a waste of time. It just doesn’t make economical sense anymore.

  9. LaDonna, Christmas is going to be VERY interesting this year for a lot of people. Everyone likes to spend money on their families. It’s the one time of year where you justify your spending because it’s fun to see the smile on someone’s face when they get something that hadn’t expected.

    Because of that, my belt has tightened considerably. I would’ve backed out of M&M had it not been so late. Unfortunately, this is one expense I’ll have to suck up. Will ti destroy my Christmas? I don’t think it’ll destroy, but it’ll be pretty slim this year. Financial Pearl Harbor, indeed.

  10. Zoe, I didn’t know how much our books impact libraries until I met two lovely women who belong to Quincey Public Library somewhere up in Illinois. I was shocked to learn that after our 3 hour conversation about books that they remembered mine (it wasn’t out at the time) and put it on their shelf. So, go for the libraries, girl. Those librarians LOVE books!!!

  11. Hi Marcia! I’m actually posting this from downstairs in the lobby at Moonlight and Magnolias! This will also probably be my last conference until late next year. Conference fees have indeed risen and in this economy I’ve got to start saving more and only spending money on the things I need vs the things I want!
    Anyway, I hope to see you around the conference…

  12. Yeah I’m definitely re-figuring the library market into my marketing plan. I realize others will be doing the same thing, But I hope to woo. And librarians talk. It’s not like librarians don’t know any other librarians. If you have an excellent book a few sales can start to trickle through the library system because this librarian talks to two other neighboring librarian friends, who talk to some of their friends, etc.

    I used to work for a small publisher who sold almost exclusively to the library market. I never thought that that was going to be relevant to me, but now I wish I’d taken better notes.

    And I would LOVE to go to an RT con.

  13. Abi!! Oh, I am so looking for you here at the conference. You won’t miss me. I’m the one who will be hobbling through the halls on a sprained ankle. But that’s another story. 🙄

    I’ve been listening a LOT to my needs versus my wants and it’s made my financial decisions easier and with less regrets. With the way the economy is going, I’m crossing my fingers that the conference organizers have it on their minds, too. Let’s face it. If more than half of us can’t go to conferences, then that’s going to put a huge dent in their budgets, too. It’s a sad, vicious circle, but one everybody needs to keep it in mind.

  14. Zoe, if you want to RT, I’d probably rethink my budget and desperately try to fit it in. I LOVE meeting my friends at cons and I have yet to meet you. 😉

    Very true about the librians. They talk and they talk a lot. Heck, I think they even have their own book convention. I wish I had my nose more into their market, too, because I think it’s one that needs to be tapped more.

  15. I’ve decided not to join a local writing group but, to continue taking online writing classes. I work weekend baylor twelve hour shifts. So, attending the meetings that are held on the weekends, is not an option. I ‘ve also gone on a book buying fast. My TBR pile is huge. I have enough books in my TBR to get me through 2009. The only exception, will be my three favorite authors.

    Melissa NC

  16. I’m with you about conferences, online loops, etc. I am about to donate boxes of books to the local library because I’m moving to Wilmington in January. With the internet, it’s easy to purchase books in bulks for cheap, but then you get all those free books at conferences so everything just piles up. I keep buying and I never have a chance to read them because of deadlines. I know you’ll have a great time at M&M. I hear it’s closest to the RWA in terms of conferences. I was going to go this year but life prevented me from participating. I will be there next year though.

    I need to save $$$$ too. Most people don’t realize how much you have to spend to promote your books and there’s a lot more where that goes. I figured by the time I write my 20th book, that’s probably when my royalties will keep me from taking a full-time job! You gotta love being a writer! 🙂

  17. I’m with you, Melissa. I’ve got plenty of books and then some, to keep me pretty busy through 2009. In fact, I’ll end up having to give some of them away because they’ve completely taken over my office. If I read everything in there, it might take me until 2012.

    I’ve been skipping a couple of my local chapter’s meetings these last few months because my weekends are precious to me. I’ll be attending next month because I heard that Miriam Kriss will be there. *hint hint* If you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area, you won’t want to miss this one. I know I’ll be there. She’s one of my DREAM agents. 😉

  18. Jax, my BEAUTIFUL cover goddess! :mrgreen:

    Unfortunately, that’s how I managed to have my books eat me out of house and home. All of the conferences and conventions. While they’re great, this is a such thing as a glutton when it comes t books. That’s why I can’t get into my office today. I have a nursing home down the street from me that I’m thinking about donating books to. The only thing is I’m doing it under the cover of night. There’s no way I want those sweet little ladies thinking I’m out to give them a heart attack or something. I’m telling you, the viagra prescriptions are going to increase by tenfold.

    And a very good point with the promo stuff. I know for a fact that I spent twice as much more than I had planned to for promoting my book. While I had a great time doing it, there comes a point when my wallet has to the final say and it spoke loud and clear. I’m guessing it’ll take my 25th book before I’ll be able to write full time. By then, I’ll be retired and tapping into my 401K…assuming there’s anything left. 😦

  19. Hey Marcia, at this point I dont see myself going to the next one. Though I could see myself going in 2010 maybe. Though I’d really love to meet and hang out with you too! I think we’d have a blast!

  20. Miriam Kriss represents two of the authors in my TBR pile, Rachel Vincent and Vicki Pettersson. She has a good eye for talent. I read an interview where she calls herself a hungry agent always looking for new and upcoming talent. I visit Rachel’s site often. She gives good inside information for writer’s about writing and agent hunting.

    Yes, Terry is awesome! I am planning on taking all of her classes.

    Melissa NC

  21. Sigh…. I know what you mean. I let my RWA membership go last year for financial and other reasons, though I do miss it. I was reconsidering, but can’t justify the expense right now when my car needs more work. 😦

    Hope your last-for-a-while convention is at least worth every penny! 🙂

  22. Melissa, I wish you could’ve been at M&M. Miriam Kriss was on the Cold Read panel and her personality was infectious. She’s the queen of urban fantasy and definitely one of my dream agents.

    Gosh, I can’t wait until November. They haven’t updated our website ( yet, but I keep checking back to see if it’s official. If so, I need to get my drooling under control. 😉

  23. Hey Kate!!!

    I have a feeling your membership won’t be the only one to laspe this year. Even if people keep their RWA memberships, you bet they’re going to be cutting back on their chapter loops. I know I certainly am.

  24. Things on my Chopping Block list:

    1. Subscription to Romantic Times.
    2. RWA membership
    3. Subscription to Writer’s Digest
    4. Attendance to RWA starting 2010 (still going to 2009 since it’s in my backyard)

    I was planning on buying an Alphasmart Neo but that’s on hold now too. 😦 Stupid bad economy.

  25. Karm, I’m barely hanging onto my RT subscription. It’s only saving grace is that my renewal isn’t up until June. That gives me some time to reevaluate.

    I seriously thought about my RWA subscription, too. The only reason why I’m holding onto that is, again, my renewal hasn’t come up yet. We’ll see next year.

    Writer’s Digest became a casualty. 😦 I’m already missing it, too. The renewal came in the mail last month, so the timing really sucked in the sense.

    Right now, RWA 2009 is up in the air. With the “special” project I’m working on, there’s a chance I’ll finish that around the same time as the conference. If so, not gonna happen. Moonlight and Magnolias might happen for two reasons. First, it’s half the price of Nationals. Second, I might be able to skim by with my “special” project.

  26. Hey Marcia, it was a blast seeing you again this past weekend at Moonlight & Magnolias. I forgot you were going to be there until I saw you-LOL.

    And I am with you on the restrictions to my writing budget. And being a newbie (I just started seriously persuing a writing career this January), it is very difficult for me to get the resources I need. but thankfully, I took quite a few foundational workshops earlier this year, so I believe I have all the tools I need to write the best works I can.

    But with that said, I need a new computer, I have been contemplating getting an Alphasmart Neo, and I really want to take Margie Lawson’s workshop, but all 3 of these are on hold for now….

  27. Same here, La-Tessa. I only wished we had more time to hang out at M&M. 🙂

    Right now, workshops are about the only thing I can afford. Which is fine because you’re never too old or too new of a writer to have a refresher course. Since I can’t do Margie’s workshop right now, I purchased her packet from her website at $20. I can’t wait to dive into the information.

    There was a time when I couldn’t afford a computer, so I got the cheapest one the stores had to offer. When it comes down to it, the only thing you really need is a word processing program. Whatever you’re using now, I say stick with it. An Alphasmart would’ve been a neat thing to have, but right now it’s a luxury I’m unwilling to afford.

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