Welcome to Episode 4 of “Indie Writing Life,” my weekly series about my ongoing activities as a writer, i.e. – somebody running a business writing and selling books. My inaugural episode can be found here, if you’d like to start at the beginning. Last week’s episode is here.
Taxes for Writers
As a writer, I earn money by the following activities:
- Royalties: Payments from anthologies or periodicals where my stories have appeared.
- Retail Sales: Sales from online retailers such as Amazon, B&N, IngramSpark, and others.
- Stock Sales: Sales of my books at events and conventions, as well as sales from my online store.
- Editing: Editing services, generally for anthologies.
- Book Formatting: Formatting print and ebook editions for a limited clientele.
- Workshops: Payment for running workshops.
When you make money, you gotta deal with the IRS.
I track and categorize my expenses throughout the year, which makes tax season a LOT easier. I’m also set up as an LLC in Virginia. Currently, this means my revenue is a “pass-through” to my regular taxes, though I’ll probably evolve this in the future as revenue continues to grow (there are various ways to handle this…consult with a tax professional on how to set your business up).
The equation is simple:
Profit = Income – Expenses
My writing profits get added to my overall income (I have a Day Job, too), and then I pay taxes on that total.
I deduct every single expense that I legally can. Like any business, I can deduct expenses such as mileage (related to writing), event costs (table costs, meals, tickets, etc.), payments to assistants, books (both genre and research books), gear, stock costs, etc.
This is part of the business of writing, and not solely for indie writers.
My story possesses five major POV characters. The protagonist will own the POV in slightly over half of the chapters, plus he’ll interact with his fellow POV characters in various other scenes. The remaining POV opportunities will be spread across the other characters.
I’m portraying the story as a popularized dramatization of events leading up to a great disaster, pieced together from the journal of the protagonist and interviews with the other POV characters. As such, the protagonist’s chapters are in the first person, while the other POVs are in the third person.
This is decidedly odd, but seems to be working well. To help distinguish the protagonist’s chapters, I start each one by displaying one of his survival rules. For example:
My Beta Readers will eventually let me know how well this all works. I love my Beta Readers. I don’t know where I’d be without them.
By the way, this is definitely a novel, at this point.
Tip: As a rough rule of thumb, every major POV doubles the length of your story. (Now you know why George R.R. Martin is having issues with The Game of Thrones).
All About Conventions
Balticon: The Programming Survey for participants will probably go out within the next two weeks. This survey allows participants to indicate which panels they’re interested in being on, moderating, etc. For the Workshop Track, which I’ve helped out with, all the Workshop invitations have gone out. I’ve gotten some acceptances back, but not as many as expected. I’ll be dealing with this over the next week. The convention is in May, over the Labor Day weekend.
RavenCon: I’m on Programming for this con. I’ve been told that their Programming Survey should be out within a week or so. This convention is in April.
FarPoint: This media convention is this weekend. I’m not attending, though some of my friends are. I’ll investigate this one in the future. I’m looking for another event to sell books at early in the year (I buy stock and sign up for events (more costs) for the year in the first quarter, so my writing business always starts the year in the red.
Continuing Education and Research
I’m always trying to educate myself on various aspects of both the writing business and the craft of writing. Plus, of course, I get to do research for my stories.
Being a writer is like having homework for the rest of your life.
- The World of the French Revolution: I’m still working my way through this very interesting textbook. This is research for Pivot Point, my alternate-history steampunk story.
- How to Build $1,000 a Month Author Habits: Writing, Marketing, and Mindset Habits to Sell More Books – This is a two-hour presentation from Bryan Cohen, a book marketing guru. It’s roughly one hour of content, followed by a sales pitch for his services. As per usual, he has a bunch of good points. He’s also pretty honest about the writing business. While I haven’t purchased his services, I may well do so one of these days. Note: I’m not including a link because this is a free webinar that you have to sign up for. He does run these seminars frequently, so you can find one pretty easily.
Day Job Insecurity
As a bonus for this week, there’s trouble in paradise for the Large Company that provides my Day Job. One way or another, I’ll be switching companies this year, whether I want to or not. So, I expect that whole fandango will take up some of my time this year.
Just another typical week. I’m pushing hard on Invisible (my WIP), so I got more writing done this week than in previous weeks, which is good. I’ve also been doing marketing activities for my novelette, Jonelle Crosse, which is launching on February 29th.