How to Lose a Third of a Million Dollars Without Really Trying

As a young writer, my naiveté about the publishing process nearly led me to financial ruin. Here’s how to avoid my mistakes.

Heather Demetrios
Forge
Published in
13 min readAug 18, 2019

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The first thing I tell debut authors is this: Assume nothing.

If just one person had sat me down when I signed my first book contract and explained how publishing works, how nothing is guaranteed, and how it often feels like playing Russian Roulette with words, I would have made much sounder financial and creative decisions. I would have set a foundation for a healthy life as an artist, laying the groundwork to thrive in uncertainty, to avoid desperation, panic, and bad decisions that would affect me for years to come.

How would my life be different if a fellow writer or someone in the industry had told me that the money I’d be receiving for my advances was absolutely no indication of what I could make on future book deals? What pain could I have avoided if they had advised me not to spend that money as though there would be more where that came from? I suspect I may have avoided a near nervous breakdown and not come so perilously close to financial ruin and creative burnout. But no one came forward.

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Heather Demetrios
Forge
Writer for

Author, coach, editor, & mindfulness mentor. Newest: LITTLE UNIVERSES and CODE NAME BADASS. www.heatherdemetrios.com