Most first time authors out there will agree that becoming published ends up costing quite a bit more than you ever anticipated. At least if you’re doing it correctly, as in you hired an editor, a cover designer, a website designer and marketing representation. Not to mention all the incidentals, like ISBNs and possibly an email/newsletter system.

But what did you expect, you’re starting a business. And if you didn’t think you were starting a business, then we’ve found the root of the problem. No matter what genre you write in, if you want to be a successful author, you need to treat your craft like a business. And no matter what your background is we should all be able to agree that starting a business requires an investment, yes?

But “investment” is apparently a relative term, and defies categorization, because you can’t even begin to imagine what I’ve been offered instead of actual money.

One gal wanted to pay me in Flanian Pobble Beads. Now, we can assume she’s a fan of cult classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but if she was really a fan she’d know they’re only exchangeable for other Beads. Yeah hunny, not interested, especially after your half-assed attempt at humor.

People that use the term “piecemeal” make me want to scream. You can do piecemeal yourself, you don’t really plan on hiring me if that word is a part of your marketing vocabulary. Same thing with Bitcoin, if my bank won’t take it, I won’t take it. And book sales. Offering a marketing professional a portion of your book sales is like promising me a sunny vacation to Seattle. Sure, it could happen, but can you guarantee it?

I’ve even been offered hugs and good vibes. I kid you not.

And while yes, a genuine hug and some good vibes have their place, come on, I love good vibes, they’re not a replacement for money. I do this for a living, and I’m pretty good at it I’m told. So while you may not take yourself seriously enough to invest in your own success, keep in mind that I can’t eat hugs. And all the good vibes in the world won’t pay my mortgage.

This isn’t grade school, I won’t trade for your marbles.

At the end of the day you need to be honest with yourself, that’s the first step. Are you willing to invest in your success? It doesn’t mean you have to have $50,000. Or even $10,000, but do your research, get some bids and proposals, and remember to respect people’s time and knowledge. If you want a good book you want a good editor. Don’t offer to pay them in eggs from your backyard. If you want a good website you want a good web designer. Don’t offer to pay them in Bitcoin, even though some might be tempted. And if you want your title to reach your target market you need a good marketing strategy. So don’t offer to pay your team in chocolate, again, even though we’ll be tempted…