The Business of #Writing: Mailing Costs, Stock Photos, and Office Supplies

Day three of my week-long series where I discuss my 2013 writing expenses. My goal with this “business of writing mini-series” is to share some helpful information with new writers, while also giving readers a behind-the-scenes peek at what many writers do to support their work. Experienced writers, please feel free to share links and thoughts in the comments. Because today’s topics are even blander than some of the others, I’m including some EXCITING STOCK PHOTOS in this post! 😀


Almost all of my mailing costs were associated with mailing giveaway copies of my books to readers. I mentioned already that I enjoy giving away copies of my book. Currently, I only offer print copies, which require mailing. I manage this expense by only mailing to U.S. addresses, but I often wish I didn’t need to limit my reach.

LESSON? I’d love to figure out how to offer digital copies of my books in the future.

Post Office Boxes: Another possible expense.
Post Office Boxes:
Another expense.
This one’s mine:
P.O. Box 381
Shrewsbury, PA 17361-0381
Feel free to use it to send me an old fashioned letter! 😀


I actually worried that this expense would represent a bigger portion of my expenses than it did. I like to include pictures in my blog posts and many times, my pictures just aren’t relevant or good enough. So in 2013, I spent approximately 6% of my overall expenses on stock photos from BigStock and iStock. Most of them were either loaded up as part of a blog post or added to the stationary pages on my website. But I also bought a handful to use as part of the presentation I gave at the Library of Congress SF&F Forum.

LESSONS? I could cut back on this. My posts don’t require photos. If I needed to tighten the belt, this would be an expense to consider cutting. But I like adding a visual component to posts. I think it makes them more attention grabbing and professional looking. Although paying less for photos used for daily posts versus static pages or presentations might be something to consider.


Yikes! Printer ink is a lot more expensive on a yearly basis than I’d like for it to be! And it’s weird how quickly the cost of envelopes, paper writing tablets, copy paper, pens, etc. add up. But there’s no getting around these expenses. Like postage, these costs are associated with nearly every business.

In 2013, I also bought a new laptop. This would have so wildly skewed my expense numbers, that I didn’t even include it for purposes of these posts. But, of course, hardware upgrades are necessary too. (My husband would be kicking up his heels if he heard me say that. He works for one of the world’s biggest PC manufacturers.)

A little bit off topic, but… there’s been a lot of talk over the last year about the death of the PC. And it’s true that lots of people are shifting to tablets. But I think many of those people are consumers of content, not creators. For my part, I’m just hoping there will always be awesome hardware out there for those of us who want to write and create content for others to consume.

LESSONS? Other than bargain hunting, bulk purchasing, and not being wasteful, I don’t know how anyone could cut their office supply expenses.

So that’s my take on mailing costs, stock photos, and office supplies. Sexy and exciting? Probably not. Basic and useful? Hopefully so. 😀 Now I’d love to hear from you…

Writers, do you mail print copies of your books as giveaways or do you offer digital versions? Do you use stock photos? If so, where do you buy them? Do you write on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or something else?

Readers, do you like getting print copies as giveaways or do you prefer digital? Do you think blog posts without pictures are boring? From which device do you access the internet the most — desktop, laptop, tablet, or other?

Tomorrow, books and writer’s groups! Happy Wednesday, all!

Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

6 thoughts on “The Business of #Writing: Mailing Costs, Stock Photos, and Office Supplies

    1. Hi Pat– Great link! Thanks for sharing it. Interestingly, the article raised a question I was thinking about earlier today: Where’s the line between editorial and commercial content online today? Toward the end of the article, the writer mentions a photographer who “questioned whether an ad-supported website counted as a noncommercial venture.”

      A fascinating topic I’ll have to look into further…

  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, Jill!! It’s been a great insight into author expenses as I am about to move from hobby to business in the eyes of the IRS.

    I get my pictures for blogs from flickr’s creative commons. Often you only have to attribute the photo and it’s free. You can even edit them to suit your purposes.

    1. Hi Megan– I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the series. That’s great! I’ve used Creative Commons a few times, I think. My problem is that I’m usually already visualizing a very specific picture — and half the time I can’t even find it on the stock photo sites. But it’s fun looking! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  2. Most of the images on my blog are from my own camera. I avoid non-personal photos as much as I can. And using my own photos means someone else besides me can see them. I do love showing off my cute kitties too.

    As a writer, I’ve both mailed paper books (mine are trade size so the postage is higher) and I’ve given away digital books too (so much easier). Personally, I prefer digital over print because I don’t have anymore space for actual books. With that said, I do treasure my author signed copies and have a whole cubby full of them 🙂

    Internet-wise, I read a lot on my Kindle Fire, iPod and my laptop. It just depends on what I’m doing and how lazy I feel. I don’t plan on trying to write a book on a tablet (super yuck) and I doubt my employer for the day job will ever give up laptops and desktops (at least I hope not!).

    Great series of posts, Jill. They’ve been very informative.

    1. Hi Casey– I love seeing pictures of your cats! And your cats happen to be very photogenic whereas mine… well, he is the apple of my eye and all but he is also old and cranky. A very unwilling subject. He almost always has a sour puss expression even when he’s in a good mood. (Of course, all that just makes me love him more. 🙂 )

      I love my Kindle Fire for reading and watching, but I’m with you — I can NOT imagine writing a novel on a tablet. Ha!

      Happy to hear you like the posts. Thanks for the visit and comment!

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