Five ways writers squander money

If we’re diligent in our work habits and research, we can discern what is a wise investment and what is a money-waster.


Most of us would not knowingly squander money on anything related to our personal or professional writing life. We write because we have something to say, and a goal is for readers to find value—and for us to earn a little money.


We need to make an ongoing investment in our careers for items that improve our craft and our platform. That’s true for every writer who wants to better themselves in the publishing world. From craft to marketing and promotion, we do our best to spend wisely. But some expenses are a waste. Usually, these money-stealers are disguised as critical and necessary. Some sources promise publication with huge monetary returns and perks. I don’t want you to get stuck in one of those pitfalls.



These are five ways a writer can squander money.


1. Paying an agent to read their work.

A writer ensures a book project is edited and marketable before approaching an agent. If the agent believes in the project and chooses to represent it, the agent and writer become a team. The agent believes the book is excellent and can sell it. Industry standards typically have the agent receiving a 15 percent commission of royalties when a publisher issues any contracted amounts due.


An agent who requires an upfront payment to read the manuscript is misrepresenting the definition of a literary agent. There’s no guarantee the agent can sell the project, but a reputable agent who is respected in the industry will understand the publishing business and do the best job of representing your project.


2. Paying a publicist who has no track record.

A publicist is an expert who specializes in promoting a writer’s work or brand to raise visibility and public awareness. They always read the book and search for selling points. A good publicist is knowledgeable about the industry, knows the appropriate contacts, and creates a plan for the writer that is unique and includes how the publicist will regularly communicate with the writer.


Although a publicist can’t guarantee sales or media placement, taking a chance on a publicist who has no comparable industry history can be a gamble.


3. Paying a reader to endorse a book.

The practice of a writer paying for an endorsement is not wise. Instead, consider these guidelines: a writer approaches a potential endorser and asks if the person would consider reading the book for possible endorsement when it’s in the galley stage. Word your request graciously and respectfully.


4. Paying for social media followers.

True followers are interested in a relationship with the writer—their knowledge, personality, publications, special interests, etc. Purchased followers can be fake, never share quality information, and may choose to disconnect with the writer at any time.


Professional writers grow their followers through organic means, a natural process in which the writer and the follower are linked by choice.


5. Paying for a service that promises bestselling status.

Many of us receive emails daily from those companies or persons who promise bestselling status and/or six-figure income by investing in a class or service. Really?


Writers and their books typically become bestsellers by creating an outstanding project that entertains, inspires, encourages, or instructs a reader.


All writers can fall prey to these five mistakes. If we’re diligent in our work habits and research, we can discern what is a wise investment and what is a money-waster.


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers.


DiAnn is passionate about helping other writers be successful and speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston. DiAnn is very active online and loves to connect with readers on social media and at