Ways Writers (and Readers) Can Cash in on Back to School

If you’re like me, you haven’t cared much about Back to School since you graduated, but there are actually lots of non-student perks hidden in the hubbub. Writers and readers, especially, can score great deals during the promotional rush – not to mention unexpected side perks. So how can you cash in?

Time to Sell

If you’re an avid reader, chances are you have some money sitting around in your house in the form of excess books. And Back to School is the perfect time to sell them – especially any classics or titles that show up on the school reading curriculum. Used bookstores really can’t have too many copies of 1984, To Kill a Mockingbird, or The Scarlet Letter. So find the old ones, dust ‘em off, and gain a little pocket money to buy new books printer paper.

Which reminds me – now is also a great time to sell other used school gear, like book bags, office supplies, dorm-room-sized furniture and décor, and even used clothes. Parents and college students are stocking up, so if you have anything you aren’t using, now is probably the time to list it for sale.

More (or Structured) Writing Time

Be sure to check if your state is offering a tax-free weekend!

Not everyone is affected by a schedule change during Back to School, but many (most) people are – at least tangentially. If you’re a student, that’s obvious, but there are also teachers, parents, professors, aids and other school workers, university employees, tutors, and all the businesses that pick back up when college kids return to town. Even most people without ties to the school/university system feel the seasonal mood shift that comes with “back to school, back to work, back to productivity.” So why not cash in?

Parents and other caretakers have the most obvious perks here: a sudden influx of kid-free time. Which means the potential for more writing time, which means more things to publish and sell, which means making more money. But what about everyone else who gets busier with Back to School? There’s a productivity secret you can put to excellent use here: the busier we are, the more stuff we can get done, faster. It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true. The more tasks we have, the faster we move through them because in the back of our mind we know how much more there is to do. In other words: when business is on the rise, our productivity skyrockets.

Let’s take advantage of it! Allowing ourselves to feel the Back to School hype can gear us up for our own writing productivity increase – even (or especially) if the rest of our lives are getting busier at the same time. The key to increasing writing despite increasing other tasks? Goals and scheduling. Telling yourself you’ll write more this month isn’t enough; you have to set concrete steps to make it happen. Forty-five minutes during lunch break adds up more than you might think.

Retreat Prices Drop

Another great way to boost output is a writing retreat, and Back to School is probably the cheapest time to schedule one. All the summer destinations are still open and still pleasant, but they’ll also have a drastic decrease in guests. Demand drops, prices drop. Which means you can go for cheap. Win!

Deals and Steals

Last but certainly not least (but certainly most obvious): SALES! Writers and readers have tons of product crossover with Back to School. Lucky for us, retailers don’t care who buys their stuff, so we can snag sales meant for students, teachers, dorm rooms, etc. I’m not going to compile specific deals of office supplies like pens, notebooks, index cards, binders, etc., because they are everywhere. But I have gathered just a few computer/tech finds below. Some key companies and stores to check out this year: Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Best Buy, Target, and Staples. This list is not an endorsement, just a way to point you to  items you might be able to save on during the Back to School season.

Computers & Tablets

MacBook Pro 2017 (coupon + instant savings ranging from $70-$200 plus no tax in 48 states)

iMac 2017

MacBook Pro 2016 (up to $1,200 off late model)

Surface Pro 4 bundle including a type cover for $999 (or $899 if you’re a student with a valid .edu account)

Surface Book

Dell computers (up to $150 off, plus additional $100 with student deals)

Kindle E-reader

Samsung Galaxy Tablet

Tech & Accessories

InkJet printer

Laser printer

Flash drives

External hard drive

Laptop carry case

Multi-device keyboard

Wireless mouse


A couple last notes on deals: be sure to check if your state is offering a tax-free weekend! Saving on taxes alone can be big, especially if you’re springing for a new computer or other large purchases. Also, don't forget to check for deals in the less-obvious writing areas too. Warm, comfortable clothes go on sale, as do office decor meant for dorm rooms (small filing cabinets, chairs, bookshelves), gear for lockers (dry erase boards, magnets, push pins), and even food! Pre-packaged drinks and snacks are perfect for lunchboxes, but also for you to stay at your keyboard longer. Really, there are deals everywhere you look, so it's the perfect time to stock up and save.

Happy writing, reading, retreating, and shopping! Oh, and happy Back to School. :)

Writers and readers, do you have ways you cash in on Back to School? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Annie Neugebauer

Column by Annie Neugebauer

Annie Neugebauer likes to make things as challenging as possible for herself by writing horror, poetry, literary, and speculative fiction—often blended together in ways ye olde publishing gods have strictly forbidden. She has work appearing in over fifty venues, including Black Static, Apex Magazine, and Fireside. She’s the webmaster for the Poetry Society of Texas, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and in addition to LitReactor, a columnist for Writer Unboxed. She’s represented by Alec Shane of Writers House. She needs to make new friends because her current ones are tired of hearing about House of Leaves. You can visit her at www.AnnieNeugebauer.com for discussions, poems, organizational tools for writers, and more.

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