Print Friendly, PDF & Email

There’s an old saying that the way to make a small fortune in publishing is to start with a large fortune. While the early days of publishing favored independently wealthy authors, things have changed.

Publishing may be cheaper than it once was, but it’s not free. Anyone who says otherwise is probably trying to scam you. As in any business, it takes money to make money. But savvy authors can find ways to save a lot of money. 

If you want to learn clever ways to save money as an author, keep reading. 

Money Saving Strategy #1: Invest in Education

The best way to save money as an author is to spend what money you do have on educating yourself. Investing in your own publishing education helps you in two ways.

Avoid Costly Mistakes

Investing in your education helps you avoid costly publishing mistakes. Someone has said, “There’s never enough money to do it right but always enough money to do it twice.”

In life, there are generally two ways to learn something. The easy way and the hard way. The easy way is to learn from someone else before you try the thing yourself. 

The hard way is to learn from your own mistakes, which gets expensive quickly. The longest path is often the one filled with the most shortcuts. If you take time to study first,  you will find success faster than if you rush in yelling “Leeeeeerooooooooy Jeeeeenkiiiiiiins.” And yes, I realize that is a reference almost no one will get. If you got that reference, sound off in the comments.  

Do Things Yourself

Many facets of publishing sound difficult and expensive if you don’t know how to do them. For example, creating an epub file to publish your ebook sounds complicated if you don’t know what tools are available. A virtual publishing assistant may charge you hundreds of dollars to create an ebook. Hybrid publishers will charge thousands. But with a little training, you can learn to make one yourself for far less money in about five minutes. 

Hybrid publishers like Westbow, Exlibris, and Xulon can charge thousands of dollars for a minor task because authors who lack education don’t realize how easy “ebook file creation” really is.   

Value Your Time

If you want to DIY your publishing tasks, remember that your time is also valuable. You may be better off hiring someone for tasks that will cost you a lot of time. But it’s far better to hire someone because you understand what needs to be done than to hire someone out of ignorance.

Simply knowing the typical costs of editing, design, and layout will keep you from wasting time and money.

The cheapest way to get a better publishing education is to listen to past episode of Novel Marketing. I’ve covered nearly every aspect of publishing and marketing, and almost all the episodes are free!

Books, coaching, and courses abound, but this free podcast is a great place to start. If you find Novel Marketing valuable, consider becoming a patron and getting access to the patrons-only episodes.  

Money Saving Strategy #2: Invest in the Right Tools

One way to save time and money is by using the right tool for the job. 

Buy Time-Saving Software

Sure, you could write a book using Microsoft Word and its default spell checker, but that would be like mixing bread dough with a hand whisk. Savvy authors use tools made for writing books like Scrivener or Atticus paired with an AI grammar checker like Grammarly or ProWritingAid (affiliate links). Using tools created for authors is more efficient, just as a KitchenAid mixer is the more efficient way to knead bread dough.

If your writing, exhausts you, you may be using the wrong tools. Remember, your time is valuable! You will never recover your wasted hours, so spend them wisely. 

Buy a Mac

Apple laptops are more expensive up front, but they last longer and run faster than comparable PCs. The new Apple Silicon laptops are shockingly fast and have no moving parts, which means they should last forever.  

Just because something cost less initially doesn’t mean it is less expensive overall. A $1,000 laptop that lasts six years is less expensive over time than a $600 laptop that only lasts two years before it starts having “issues.”

Since more authors use Macs than PCs, some author tools, like Vellum, only run on a Mac. Other tools like Scrivener run better on the Mac than PC. Mac users often get new features years before PC users.

Money Saving Strategy #3: Wait for Discounts

You may not realize that the ancient practice of marketplace haggling still exists. In today’s marketplace, it’s called price discrimination. Businesses who practice price discrimination charge wealthy people more than they charge people with less money.

Companies price discriminate by offering sales and coupons that are particularly inconvenient to use. For example, you’ll see some incredible deals on Black Friday, but the best deals are only available in the morning. Marketers reason that people with smaller budgets will endure the hassle of waking up early to get the deal, while people with more money will spend the day with their families or wait until Cyber Monday, when the discounts are not as good. 

But it’s not just Black Friday. Any kind of sale is price discrimination. You can buy now and pay full price, or wait for a sale and get a discount.

Don’t you wish there was a way to know when author tools go on sale? Good news! There is! Deals Page

At, I maintain a list of author tools that are on sale. You don’t even need to be logged in to browse the deals for authors. You can also browse expired deals to find out if the tool you’re considering ever goes on sale. For example, Atticus has never been on sale, while ProWritingAid (affiliate link) goes on sale often.  

If you want to save money, check the deals page. Sometimes, a little patience can save you a lot of money. Be patient, and then be willing to act quickly when the opportunity presents itself. 

Money Saving Strategy #4: Avoid Scams

Many authors waste money unnecessarily by paying full price for Microsoft Office (which is on sale right now by the way. See the deals page for more).

One of the most expensive mistakes authors make is getting snookered by a scammer. 

Check out the following episodes about how to avoid publishing scams:

Three Signs of a Scammer


The biggest tool in the publishing scammer’s tool kit is flattery. The publishing industry is filled with insecure writers and rejections. Many authors are so desperate for praise that they rarely question the intentions of the person raving about their book, saying it will be the next big thing. 

“Beware the flattered, my son.

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! 

Beware the Jubjub Book Awards, and shun 

The frumious Hybrid Publisher!”

Hat tip to Lewis Carroll.


Scammers prey on your fears. They make publishing sound intimidating and scary. Their strategy works because many authors are already afraid because they lack a proper publishing education. Educating yourself about publishing makes you less vulnerable to predatory scammers.


Money Saving Strategy #5: Develop a Marketable Skill

Scammers pile artificial urgency on top of worry and flattery. To be fair, not all urgency is bad. Deadlines help us finish projects. But scammers add artificial urgency to prevent you from carefully considering your decision or seeking wise counsel.

Time is a scarce resource. The hour you spent on TikTok yesterday can never be relived. On the other hand, you can earn back the $10 you spent on a soy milk cappuccino. You can always make more money, but you can never make more time.

Money and time are exchangeable. You can trade time for money working a job and trade money for time when you hire someone to help you. So, making money and saving money can have the same effect. In fact, earning money can provide the funds to hire someone, which will save you time. 

As you develop your marketing and writing skills, you are cultivating skills people are willing to pay for. To help illustrate this, I want to share a testimonial that came in last week for my course Obscure No More. 

When I first considered purchasing this course, I balked at the price because I had already spent over $2,000 buying other “Book Marketing” courses. I am am a strong believer in information/education, and I buy courses all the time. Some courses have saved me years of trial and error, but most have not been very good.

Something told me the Obscure No More Course was different, and I should give it a good look…and boy am I glad I did! I can’t begin to tell you how valuable this course is for authors, but also for other types of businesses. There is literally years worth of information in this course, and it is presented in a fast moving, easy-to-digest style that makes you want to jump in and do what it says. The website building module alone is worth the total price of the course.

How do I know?

Within one week of getting the course I had sold a custom WordPress website build to another business using the tips this course taught me. Selling that one website covered the entire cost of the course! If you never buy any other course for author marketing in your life, buy this one. This course is a game changer. And by the way, I wasn’t asked to say any of this. It’s just the truth.” Signed, ‘Rockin’ Rick Bell – Author and Entertainer, and Lifelong ‘Obscure No More’ Fanboy

Rick Bell

Thanks to Rick Bell, for his kind words! You can find him at Rick isn’t the only person making money using the website skills he learned in the Obscure No More course. 

If you are looking for work, don’t forget we have a Job Board at  


Obscure No More

If you want help building your platform, whether it is branding, website building, email, podcasting, blogging, or good old-fashioned public speaking, you should consider my course Obscure No More. In this course, you will learn everything you need to know about building a rabid tribe of readers before your book comes out. 

Don’t forget! Obscure No More comes out of beta at the end of 2022. So, if you want the Beta discount pricing, make sure to sign up before the end of the year and use the coupon code betatest at checkout. 

Liked it? Take a second to support Thomas Umstattd Jr. on Patreon!

Want more help?

Get a weekly email with tips on building a platform, selling more books, and changing the world with writing worth talking about. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!