by Nancy Kay Clark, editor/publisher of CommuterLit.
Copyright is held by the author.
It will have not escaped your notice that CommuterLit offers for purchase editorial critiques and occasionally sells an ad via our PREVIEW FRIDAY program. This is done to supplement our annual February donation drive, which keeps us afloat.
It will also have not escaped your notice the amount of players in the “Learn how to write a best seller” racket—not to mention all those “experts” selling you their scheme of how to make a fortune self-publishing.
I, with the Man Booker Prize clearly in my sights, have occasionally succumbed to these offers, with varying results. Some have been well worth it; some have not.
But each one of us must assess just how much money we are willing to invest up front for the rather slim chance that we will one day become the next Stephen King or Margaret Atwood—or even just make a living from fiction writing.
Before I invest, I ask myself these questions:
1. What is my budget and what are my goals?
2. What is my skill level in terms of writing, editing, proofing, promotion, marketing, design, editorial packaging, public reading? In other words, what do I really need professional help with?
3. Do I want to take this course for other reasons other than professional development, such as networking, emotional support, and to impose firm deadlines on myself? And if so, are there other ways of achieving these goals that do not involve shelling out money?
Being a member of a writers group can help with emotional support and encouragement; and establish a writing schedule and deadlines. Volunteering for literary associations, publications, reading series and events can offer ample opportunity to network with fellow writers, as well as editors, publishers and literary agents.
One last thing I ask myself when contemplating spending the money on one of those weekend or week-long writing retreats: Do I want to spend my vacation money sitting on a beach or buying tacky souvenirs, or ensconced in a delightful scholarly or picturesque setting talking to people who love talking about writing as much as I do? Which will bring me more joy? I’ll go for the literary vacation every time—knowing I’m spending the money not to get ahead professionally but for pure enjoyment.