Here's a Franklinism to start us off:
Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.
Now that might appear negative, but I think Ben was referring to the human tendency to want more... In Isaiah 56 the prophet laments how the lack of satisfaction prevails, and that's such a good lesson for us to grasp. I think it came through to me in that quote from Charles Ingalls: "Enough is as good as a feast!" I can't read or hear that quote and not smile! And having a competitive nature, I've learned to run roughshod over ambition. As long as I control ambition, we're okay... but when I let it control me, well... trouble starts!
|"1776" is one of my all-time favorite movies... I love it THIS MUCH!!!!|
As a business owner/professional/manager, we get bombarded with decisions that affect our annual bottom line. Dozens of little decisions can add up to costly business expenses, so January is a good time to examine costs vs. effectiveness. We've got the "books" out, doing taxes and we've got clear vision of the balance sheets.
When I was first offered contracts, another author laughed when I estimated my projected earnings. I wasn't offended, I was puzzled.... and then she told me my financial outline was impossible, that writing little books would barely break even. Even when I showed her my estimated figures of sales x royalties x #of books she scoffed.
Real numbers don't lie. (Darlings, this truism is not to be confused with statistics which can be twisted, shaped, referenced in multiple ways to build a case for or against just about anything these days!) But math is still math, addition still works and I knew I was right. My goal to make a solid living writing delightfully affordable category romances is blossoming daily.
And yes, you can still get your copy (if you don't win one!!!) of this delightful 4 Star (Romantic Times Review) novel HERE!!!!!
No matter how beautiful your work/your story(ies), publishers need to cover a bottom line or lines fold. (We saw this happen this past year with B&H and Summerside Press). And while I'm crazy sad at seeing two lovely Christian lines fold, I have to say that working with Summerside editors and Anna Schmidt on "Love Finds You in the City at Christmas" (Come on, you knew I'd get a shameless plug in here, didn't you????? Really, it's me, it's to be expected!!!!) was an absolutely wonderful experience. Guideposts and Summerside had/have a great staff and marvelous insight. I was truly blessed to have that chance.
Now here's the thing, chickie-chickie babies!!!! We're all different. God has modeled us from various cloth and life has wielded our sculpture with its own hand, therefore none of this is written in stone. It can't be because our business and our cause-and-effect are individual.
We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. (Ben Franklin)
Certain expenses are a given for most of us:
Computer (and maybe a back-up in case one is down for repairs?)
Internet service (minimize this by working in a library/coffee shop/mall, etc. As long as you don't spend money there, which may or may not be considered downright rude in the coffee shop!)
Internet Back-up (Mozy, Norton, etc. in case a worm/bug/virus wipes your files clean)
Website (Hosting and domain name can go from minimal cost right up to hiring professionals to build/maintain your website, this can be a several thousand dollar differential)
Blog (Hosting, possibly free i.e. "Blogger")
Internet presence FREE... (You can find this by "Googling" your name... if other things come up on that first page, you should heighten your internet presence by writing more books, blogging, guesting on blogs, did I mention writing more books???? Oh, yes! I see that I did! ) BIG GRIN HERE, and a reminder to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!!!
Paper (Most of us catch more repetitiveness and issues on hard copy, but that might be my age talking)
Ink (To use with aforementioned paper)
Postage (For contests/editors/agents who request hard copy)
Envelopes (I use free ones from Post Office and send via Priority Mail)
Food/Drink of choice: (For me it's coffee and broccoli slaw!!! But you're fooling yourself if you think you can work effectively and be longing for a Diet Coke and none is in the house... or that you're hungry and decide you need Oreos and must go to the store. Those are stall methods, and you're better than that!!!!)
Ongoing courses, either online or via craft books, to stretch your knowledge and application. This can be a small price (we're offering Night Classes here for great prices, HERE'S THE BIG LINK TO OUR NIGHT CLASSES!!!!) Please note how easy I made that to see! You're welcome! (BIG GRIN!!!)
Janet Dean reminded me that business cards are a good thing.... Which means I should order new ones because mine are ancient.
Books to read: Mary Connealy wants you to know that this can done through purchasing or library borrowing... and that it is ESSENTIAL that she read so much!!!! To keep up with the market!!!! :)
Also from Mary:
"Fan for summer--Space heater for winter--my office (enclosed porch) seems to have faulty duct work. Grrrrrrrr....... I've proposed selecting a different office, My Cowboy seems to think I'll be messy and turn a tidy guest room into a war zone. He thinks this BASED ON NOTHING."
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. (Ben Franklin)
Specific to unpublished authors:
(non-expense items listed first):
Knowledge of who's publishing what, this is your homework. This helps your focus and drive. There might not be much expense in learning this, if you use an up-to-date library... or it can be the cost of books X number of books. I did the Good Will Hunting library route and incurred very little book expenditure because money was tight. And it worked. I love Will Hunting. And I love "Edward" from Pretty Woman because he taught me that sleep is not as essential as we make out.... and I BELIEVED him, LOL! And of course there's Ben's take on that subject, a real-life man that I love beyond belief: "Plenty of time for rest in the grave!"
I love that Franklinism!!!!
Self-discipline even though unpaid AS YET!!!! (Gotta trust in God, in the future and go for the gold at your pace. It will all come together, but like the Polar Express, ya' gotta "B-E-L-I-E-V-E"!)
Increase that web presence
Items requiring expense for unpublished (as yet!) authors:
Writing contests sponsored by publishers and/or writing groups: (some of these have costs, many are now online with electronic entries, cutting your cost substantially). These provide opinion/critique from numerous sources, an invaluable tool if you truly want to improve your craft AND a chance to final and win a spot on a targeted editorial desk. This is what brought the Seekers together, a mode and method (note the mathematics I'm throwing your way!!!!) proven true.... and we're all grateful for the outcome!
Conferences (National, local, regional, genre specific) (Writing classes, industry information, networking, agent and editor appointments.)
College classes or local classes focusing on writing/publication/website-building, etc.
For the published author:
Contests for published books (fees/cost of books/shipping)
Conferences (National, local, regional, genre specific, these prices can range from a few hundred to an easy $2,000. Choose wisely. Deb Giusti did the best blog I've ever seen on this here in Seekerville: LINK TO DEB'S BLOG ABOUT CONFERENCES!!!!
Promotion of books (Newsletters, Facebook ads, Book launch services, books purchased for give-aways, bookmarks)
Gifts for agents/editors
Amazon Prime Account (this is optional, but I love mine. It gives me perks I use as an author and as a person.... Hey, you know what I mean!!!)
And from the wisdom of Connealy again:
Gas for trips to booksignings/writer gatherings
Lap Desk...second lap desk...third lap desk...My laptop was hot. Now it's winter, plus my hot flashes seem to have eased and I quit using a lap desk and just use my lap. Money wasted, closet full of lightly used lap desks! (Ruthy note: SIGH..... 'Sall I'm sayin'..... SIGH!!!!)
Tetley's Earl Grey Tea with draw string bags. (Hey, it's an indulgence!) Ruthy note: (This is a delicious tea and a worthy indulgence, must go order some because the drawstring bags are that cute, although I'll do Mandarin Orange Spice if they have it. I like Z-I-N-G with my tea.)
Camera bought on a whim because I was going to a cool museum and I forgot my camera. And everybody has a camera on their phone now (except me) so no one wants my camera. Does anyone need a camera? (Ruthy note: I will bet dollars to donuts she has a camera on her phone and has NO CLUE HOW TO FIND IT OR USE IT.... But that's just a guess, of course!!!) :)
Elliptical machine.......it makes a nice luggage rack. (On this topic we totally concur, only mine is a treadmill... Do you know how many cute shirts and unmentionables you can DRY on a treadmill??? Mind-boggling!!!!
Well done is better than well said. (Ben Franklin)
Feel free to add in other basics or necessities I'm overlooked when you comment. And today I'm giving away (SUCH A DEAL!!!!) a "Chat With The Crazy Author" phone call to one very brave person who mentions they want in on that deal..... :) And a download of a Ruthy book to two folks who are longing for a sweet read! Let's stock those e-readers, but let me know in the comments, okay?
Here's your homework: Your task is to be a good money steward. A good money steward doesn't throw money away recklessly and a good business person weighs cost vs. reward for everything they do. Remember, being frugal is not the same as being "Scrooge".
If money is tight, look at the must-haves and deal with those. (I did that for many years and I have no regrets, zero, zilch, nada, nil).
And even if money isn't tight, examine the reasons behind your choices. If a $1500-$2000 conference isn't affordable, why do it? What is in it for you? If there is no professional advantage to it, is there a better way to use those funds? Depending on which stage of writing you're at right now, your internal response to that should vary.
I view published author contests very carefully as well. My nature prefers to give away books to lots of readers than to worry about winning/placing in contests. Remember my unpublished contest goal wasn't to win, it was to get a spot on an editor's desk. That mission has been accomplished multiple times, and I could not be happier. Here's an amazing story that helps keep things in perspective for me:
Check out this cool video from "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" helps the Phillipines!!
If you need your laptop upgraded, do you buy the $400 HP or the $1250 Mac because you heard it's better? And then when a kid spills soda on it (happened here, I can testify to the fact that DIET SIERRA MIST and laptops are not a good mix!!!) you might let them live.
Note: MIGHT. :)
Choices surround us. Being frugal becomes easier every teeny, tiny step we take. Wisdom and courage should be part of the prayerful process of setting/keeping/polishing a budget. Wisdom to recognize the necessary and the courage to take charge of our business and personal lives.
Hey, stop inside, tell me what I forgot and then grab some of these amazing Snickerdoodles!!!! I had a hankering for them and couldn't resist!!!! The coffee is on!
Ruth Logan Herne lives in upstate New York where lake effect snow likes to bury her and a house full of munchkins on a regular basis. Every now and again she pokes her head up to check the weather, then retreats to her writing hole where she writes sweet, evocative books that make folks smile and sometimes cry... and she's okay with both! Visit her at http://ruthloganherne.com, here in Seekerville or on Facebook at Ruth Logan Herne.