Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.
Good Recordkeeping is as important as writing a good book. Along with recording expenses for editing, cover art, conference and convention fees, etc., every author needs to track her income.
Each retail platform allows authors to view sales and royalty statements. Each payment should be recorded for tax purposes. Remember that income is based on when it was received, not when it was earned. If December 2014’s earnings are paid in January 2015, those royalties are part of 2015 income.
While some authors prefer to track sales and royalties separately for each retail outlet, a detailed breakdown isn’t required when showing income.
A sometimes-overlooked source of income is hand sales, whether casual (to a friend) or organized (at a book signing). The author should record each purchase of print books, along with shipping costs, and calculate her cost per book. The royalties from hand-sold books equals the amount the author paid for the book plus any shipping/handling fees subtracted from the selling price. If the author purchased ten copies of her self-published print book from Createspace at $3.00 each and paid an additional $8.00 for shipping, her total cost would be $38.00. Her cost per book is $3.80. If she hand sells those copies for $5.00, her profit (royalty amount) is $1.20 per book or $12.00 for all ten books. The amount of profits is income. Giveaways are an expense.
Expense posting follows the same rules as income. If cover art was received in December 2014 but not paid for until January 2015, the expense goes in 2015 records. By the same logic, if cover art was paid for in December 2014 but not received until January 2015, the expense is added to 2014.
Microsoft Excel offers templates for recording income and expenses, as well the ability to create customized spreadsheets. QuickBooks or other financial/budgeting software is another option. Even a notebook is sufficient. Save all receipts and income records in digital or physical format, or both.
Tax filing depends on the author’s business status—sole proprietor (DBA), LLC, S-corporation. Consult a tax professional, if necessary.
Enough about the tax aspects of self-publishing. The last item on the To-Do List is up next!
The To-Do List
1) Finish the book.
2) Polish and edit the book.
3) Write taglines and blurbs.
4) Create or purchase cover art.
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book).
6) Create front and back matter.
7) Format for e-book and/or print.
7.a.) Add images.
7.b.) Create audio book.
8) Update website, blog, and social media.
9) Create metadata list.
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy.
11) Publish the book.
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering.
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media.
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies.
15) Write the next book!
Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace. Writing Tip Wednesday: The Self-Publishing Handbook is now available for pre-orders at Amazon and iBooks!. Release date is January 2—with extra formatting and conversion content!
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