AKA the part most of us don’t really like to think about.
But we have to.
Because the moment we decide to become indie authors is the moment we become entrepreneurs–aka small business owners. While you (and many of us) probably still work a day job while getting your writing career off the ground, if you plan on making an actual career out of writing and selling books, you have to have a plan and you have to pay attention to the business side of it.
Luckily, there are tools out there that can help make the process less painful. 🙂
Here are some of my favorite tools and tips:
Intuit QuickBooks for Small Business
I mentioned this one on the helpful tools page, but it bears repeating–this is a fantastic program. It’s inexpensive and a tax write-off, but it does a lot of the accounting for you, especially once you’ve set up rules so that certain transactions are always labeled as business or personal (such as your royalty payments). It’s an easy way to keep track of your income and expenses, receipts, etc.–which means it’ll be easier to give your accountant all that junk come tax time.
Taxes are going to vary by income level, marital status, state, and even country. In the U.S. most self-employed folks pay their taxes on a quarterly basis. Others do it semi-annually or annually. Talk to your accountant about the best way to handle your particular tax situation, because everyone’s is different, but a general rule of thumb is to set aside 30% of your self-employed income for tax purposes.
Types of Businesses
As you poke around the various and sundry indie writing communities on the internet, you’ll start seeing debates about whether or not you should file a DBA, LLC, Corporation, or SCorp for publishing purposes. At first, it’s a lot to take in. There’s so much information out there and so many conflicting opinions. Honestly, this is another one where I would advise you to talk to your accountant and possibly an attorney to figure out what’s right for you, but the common thought these days is that until you’re making $100,000 a year in royalties there’s no need to worry about it (obviously there are exceptions to that).
Additional Revenue Streams
I’m a fan of money. I like paying my bills. I like buying new clothes. Books. Chocolate. Wine. Treats for my dogs. Having a roof over my head. Y’know, the important things. As authors it’s really easy to get tunnel vision, and we only see our day job and our writing as viable sources of income.
If you think like this you’re leaving money on the table.
The worst-kept secret among writers is that almost all of us have affiliate accounts with Amazon, iBooks, and Nook. Basically, that means that any time we share a link to our books–or any other product–using a special URL that’s linked to our affiliate code, we get a little money for that sale. Some authors make a decent amount of money off of affiliate links alone. Others? Not so much. But every little bit helps, IMO.
Don’t forget about print and audio, either–you might not sell a lot of either, but again, those are two more revenue streams.
If you find yourself needing additional revenue streams, think about all the things you can do and/or ways you could provide services to others (not like that, you perv!). Are you an excellent editor? Offer your editing services. Are you an author who can design covers and format books? Offer your services. Do you have a website and/or blog that sees a crap ton of traffic? Offer advertising to other authors for a fee. Do you have experience and/or an educational background that could translate into content writing for corporations? Offer your freelance writing services–businesses always need good writers, but they’re not always willing to hire them on full time. Do you like blogging? Find a blog that’s comprised of many different bloggers and that pays per post.
Some of these are active forms of additional income, but others–like affiliate marketing and offering advertising–are pretty passive, meaning you set them up and they kind of do their own thing and don’t need a lot of babysitting. Which frees you up to write more books.