Today, we return to Worldcon Treasures, where I pass along the insights agents, editors, and authors shared during Lone Star Con 3 in San Antonio, Texas. So far, we’ve covered How to Obtain an Agent and Self-Promotion. This time we’ll shift to The Business Side of Writing.
My notes come from sitting in on this panel with Janet Harriett, Mark Oshiro, Joshua Bilmes, Genese Davis, and Steven Diamond, who combined hold a wealth of knowledge on the subject.
Getting Things Done:
- “Desperation breeds inspiration.” I wish I could recall which of the panelists said this, perhaps Mark, but it’s a great piece of advice. Part of the business of writing is getting things done swiftly and well. The need for everything to start clicking can break through the mental barriers we erect for ourselves.
The Business Plan:
- Write a business plan before you start making sales. A business plan is essentially how you will go about your business as a writer: making money, marketing, organizing your writing and what you need to do to accomplish your goals, etc.
- Your business plan should include what you need financially for:
- This month
- Next month
- Two years from now
- Keep timelines in mind. For example, Apex Books takes at least nine months to publish a book. Many other publishers take longer. Also, from my own experience, some distributors take months to report sales and get moneys to your publisher and then your publisher to you. For example. Amazon is usually three months behind on this. Just because your book comes out does not mean you immediately start making money. Further, how long does it take you to write a book? How much time do you need to devote to writing, editing, getting critiques and beta reads, etc?
- Your business plan should also include:
- Conventions you want (or think you need) to attend
- ARCs (advanced reading copies): Who will you send your book to in order to get those early, glowing reviews?
- Agents: Who will you query for representation?
- Editors/Publisher: Who can you send your story to? Who might you like working with?
- When marketing, also interacting online or at conventions, make a personal connection. Keep in mind why you are writing.
- Writers are much more likely to be audited.
- As a writer, you’re self-employed, which means you get double taxed. (From my own experience knowing tax paralegals, accountants, and tax attorneys, pay your taxes. The IRS can literally destroy your life, so make sure you set aside enough of your paychecks to handle your taxes. Don’t spend it all on steak dinners and beach vacations.)
- Consider incorporating. This can offer you some protection legally and make taxes a bit easier to bear, but, whatever you choose, do your research first.