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How to Hang on to Your Writing Dollars
by Beth Fowler

The 15 bucks I hope to earn if this article is accepted will stretch far because I’ve learned how to hang on to my writing dollars. While I’m tight with money, I’m generous with money-saving tips.

Search and Save — Subscriptions to Literary Marketplace cost $399.00 annually or $19.95 weekly. To get info about publishers listed at LMP (without a subscription) register at www.literarymarketplace.com. Search for publishers. When you find a publisher that you want to know more about, enter the publisher’s name in your search engine. If the publisher has a website, it will probably be among the links your search engine retrieves.

Join the Club — Compare prices for office supplies. Sam’s Club, for example, (http://www.samsclub.com) has good deals. Plus, Sam’s Club Business Member cards are cheaper than other categories of Sam’s memberships.

Be Thrifty — Buy notebooks and other supplies at thrift stores. Thrift shops and second-hand goods stores supply only what’s donated, so when you see something you might need, buy it.

Read Already Read Books ­— Search online at http://www.allbookstores.com and www.alibris.com and in bricks ‘n’ mortar secondhand stores for books costing a fraction of new ones.

Deduct — "Every year the IRS discovers millions of mistakes on tax forms," writes Leslie Haggin Geary, of CNN. In some cases taxpayers fail to claim all the deductions to which they’re entitled. My accountant advises recording writing-related expenses as well as income. Expenses for me include miles traveled to teach Writing for Children and household utility bills reflecting the area of my "used-for-writing-only office" in relation to our home’s total square feet.

Donate — Donate books and other stuff you don’t need to recognized charities. Ask for receipts. Visit http://www.irs.gov and find answers to FAQs donors have in Publication 526, Charitable Contributions and Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.

Ban Vanity — Avoid vanity publishers. Visit http://www.sfwa.org and click on "Writers Beware" for more info on vanity publishers and their ilk. Read Johnathon Clifford’s advice at www.vanitypublishing.info.

Pay Zilch to Get Agents — "If you follow this, you automatically eliminate the frauds," writes Chuck Rothman at www.sff.net. "A few years ago, scam agents charged ‘reading fees.’ Lately, as word has slowly gotten out that this is the sure sign of a rip off, the same agents are charging for ‘expenses.’" Literary agent and head of ethanellenberg.com, feels the same: "I would avoid agents that request payment. They'll get paid, when they sell your book."

Click "Everyday" — Documents are legible when printed with less ink density." For Microsoft, click "Print" then "Print Quality" then "Everyday" to extend the life of printer ink.

Squeeze Ink — After the low ink warning appears on screen, continue printing. Squeeze as much ink out of that cartridge as possible. I’ve actually printed nearly 100 pages after my cartridge was low and the light was blinking.

Buy Discount — Try http://www.inkjet101.com and similar sites for discounts on ink.

Play with Color — Print documents for your own use in colors to conserve black ink for documents you’ll send to editors.

Bend Over — Swoop down to pluck coins off the sidewalk. Money is money. "I did notice I found pennies every time I was working on my book, or doing any kind of writing, or doing readings with people," writes Carla Houle at www.metaphys.com/.

Bend Over Again — Ditto for paperclips, pencils and pens and even books set out for the garbage collector.

Stamp out Waste — Most editors prefer snail-mailed over emailed queries and manuscripts. Rather than driving to the post office for stamps, cut gas consumption and traveling time by ordering stamps online http://www.usps.com or through the (surprise!) mail.

Ship it Media Mail — According to the U. S. Postal Service, special postal rates are, "Generally used for books (at least eight pages), film, printed music, printed test materials, sound recordings, play scripts, printed educational charts, loose-leaf pages and binders consisting of medical information, and computer-readable media." My friendly postmaster tells me that manuscripts shouldn’t be sent via "Media Mail" because they haven’t been published.

Mail Direct — Julie Wilson, owner of A+ Mailing Solutions (www.aplusmailingsolutions.com) says, "You have your mail piece… you have your list… now how should you send it? The first thought might be to place a 37-cent stamp on it. If you do, you might be wasting money!" Before you mail 200 or more press releases or invitations to your book signing and other mass mailings, read "USPS Service Guide Publication 95" to find out how to qualify for discount postage rates.

Let others call you a cheapskate, a penny pincher, a tightfisted miser. Simply smile and say "Thank you for the compliment," as you hang on to your writing dollars.

© Copyright 2004, Beth Fowler

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