All the talking head morning shows are doing segments on saving money. In the interest of helping writers save money, here are 10 ways to reduce writing expenses.
1. Recycle your hard copy paper. If you've got an inkjet printer, as most do, this is easy. Just flip the paper over and print on the clean side. For the sake of clarity, you might mark a big X on the printed side so you won't get confused as to which side you're supposed to be reading. If you (or someone close to you) works in an office, bring home printed paper that's been tossed out because many offices still do not recycle paper.
2. Try to go paperless as much as is practical. I don't advocate editing completely on the monitor unless you're doing short copy. I think there are some errors in book manuscripts that you just don't see unless you're reading hard copy. Don't print every email you want to save or every picture you get or every piece of research you read online. Save emails electronically in "folders" in your email software. Bookmark links to research articles. Set up a pictures folder on filmstrip and view the photos on your computer or store to a CD or DVD and view in your DVD player.
3. Set your printer settings to draft in order to use less ink. Some software allows you to select draft and a low number DPI (dots per inch) which saves even more ink.
4. Use your ink until it's completely gone. Many new printers start giving you a low ink warning to change cartridges before the ink is completely gone. Ignore that. Change ink cartridges only when you can't read the writing or the printer refuses to print unless you insert a new cartridge. If you have to print something for a good presentation, put in a new cartridge, print, then remove the new cartridge, and stick the low ink one back in. Always recycle your ink cartridges. Office Depot offers a $3.00 coupon for each cartridge. Office Max sometimes offers up to $6.00. Check around.
5. Keep a mileage book in your car and record mileage when you make a run to the post office, bookstore, or office supply store. A mileage deduction on your Schedule C is a very big item, but a lot of writers don't take this because they think it isn't worthwhile. Trust me, it is, and it isn't difficult to keep track of.
6. Sometimes ordering books online is a lot cheaper than browsing your local store. With gasoline at an all-time high, the cost of a trip to the bookstore must be added to the cost of a book when considering whether to order online or hit the store.
7. Join with other writers in paid promotion projects. The cost of advertising in reader publications is prohibitive for most writers as is the cost of producing a print brochure or newsletter. But if you join forces with other writers, possibly those who have the same publisher or pub date, the cost is then within reach.
8. Take advantage of any free publicity you can create. Guest blog or start a campaign for others to blog about your release with a donation to charity as the prize for all who participate. The more who blog, the bigger the donation. Explore other free online venues for promotion.
9. If you need a certain software, check and see if there is a shareware or freeware version that does the same thing. For instance, if you need Microsoft Word or Excel, then download FREE the Open Office Suite.
10. Absolutely set up a simple set of accounting books which list expenses and, hopefully, revenue. Do it with a 3-ring binder and write it by hand or use Quicken or some other software if you have it. If you don't, see #9 above. File a Schedule C each year with your tax return. The publication explaining the rules for Schedule C and the form are online.
All these suggestions have the goal of decreasing expenses. That's part of the business side of being a writer. The other part is increasing income. Just as in a corporate job, your goal is always to reduce expenses and increase income. Otherwise, you might be forced to have an employee lay off. Which, of course, is you.