Ermahgerd. I’ve been crazy busy over at Women and Words, the other place where I blog and admin and carry on. We’ve started a Women and Words podcast, which is me and my co-admin, author Jove Belle, chatting about the week’s crazy/fun and other things related to writing, editing, publishing of interest to LGBT writers and readers. We hope.
And now, onto the business of this blog. I got to thinking about this because I’ve been working with some new writers, and I thought some quick n’ dirty tips might prove useful to those of you who are on the cusp of publication or have JUST published something If so, GO, YOU! And if that’s the case, then you need to…
Happy Friday n’ all a’ that. Oh, and don’t forget to turn your clocks forward this weekend, if you’re in a place that does that whole Daylight Savings Time thing. If you’re not, well, stay asleep.
ANYWAY. Let us discuss some promotional tips. Please start with this blog by fab spec fic author Delilah Dawson titled “Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work.”
And then, after you get pissed at her, read the follow-up, “Wait, Keep Talking: Author Self-Promotion that Actually Works.”
Okay. The point of Dawson’s first post was to get you thinking about how you go about promoting your work. Everybody knows you have to do some kind of promotion. But there are good ways to do it and not-so-good ways. Dawson lays out the not-so-good ways in the first post. And then she lays out the better ways in the second.
I like to think of self-promotion as “not being a jerk” and I already subscribed to Dawson’s approach before I actually read her blogs. So here’s a list of 10 things I recommend, culled from my own experience and Dawson’s advice, with regard to self-promotion as an author.
I decided — after some comments (some cranky; others not so much) I got regarding my decision to reboot my first mystery, Land of Entrapment — that it might be a good idea to explain what a new edition is and why some authors decide to do it.
There are many reasons authors come to these decisions. We don’t wake up one day and decide, “Oh! I’m going to re-do one of my earlier works and re-issue it! Won’t that be fun?” Because not. It’s not fun. I mean, some of it is. But for the most part, it’s stressful and time-consuming and the longer the book stays off the market, the less opportunity there is for readers to read it. And authors never make this decision to piss people off. Trust me on this.
So let’s chat about some of the reasons authors decide to create a new edition of an earlier work.
It’s been a crazy busy couple of weeks. I’ve started writing again. That is, I started back to work on some novels I’ve had lying around on my hard drive. I did write a short story that got picked up last month for an anthology that’ll be published in the next few months. So my hiatus was kind of spotty. Heh.
ANYWAY. I’m currently getting some things ready for the upcoming GCLS conference in July in New Orleans. That involves a lot of thought about swag and what to bring and what not to bring in terms of my books.
Well, kids, it’s that time of year again. When we start thinking about getting our taxes together for THE MAN. Or WOMAN. Whichever IRS agent has a look at your stuff.
I know. Wow, what an exciting topic. Unfortunately, it’s a reality and it’s one that self-employed folks (and most writers are indeed self-employed) have to deal with all the time. And by now, you’ve probably noticed all the tax commercials showing up on your networks. You know the ones. TurboTax and H&R Block are already at it, as those icky reminders to get your tax on. Or off, which is what deductions are all about.
For those of you living overseas in countries whose governments take care of all of this for you (and they just send you a statement saying how much you paid in taxes), I can only dream of such ease. Here in the States, every citizen is required to put together his or her own tax/income portfolio between January 1 and April 15 of each year. That means you report your income and all kinds of other things to the federal government as well as to the state’s government where you live. Some states do not have what’s called a “state income tax” while others do.
Included in this process are things we here in the States “write off” each year. That is, expenses we incurred with regard to specific situations that relate to businesses or other things (like tax deductible donations, e.g.). In my case, I have to keep track of all my expenses as a writer, since that’s a “self-employed” position and my income is what I earn in royalties. So I keep files of receipts and royalty statements. Lots of receipts, since anything I buy and use in the furtherance/maintenance/development of my work as a writer is something I report to the IRS.
And yes, royalties are taxable. So if you write, you need to keep track of those. If you’re working with a traditional house, those houses will send you a form with your total earnings for the year so you can report that. If you’re self-published, you need to make sure you keep track of your earnings because that’s reportable and taxable.
Some of the things I report as deductions are:
writing conferences (registration, travel to and from, hotels, meals if applicable)
promotional materials/advertising for my books and blogs
internet (because without that, I definitely would not be able to work as a writer in today’s world)
mobile phone, which I use quite a bit for business
office space (you may be able to deduct your home office)
shipping costs for books and promotional materials
writing association fees
computer equipment (last year I deducted my new printer)
editing, typesetting, and covers for my books
expenses I incur as an editor (yes, money I make from that is also taxable), like my subscription to Chicago Manual of Style
So I keep track of all of this during the year. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass. But if you keep things organized during the year, it’s not that big a deal to get it all put together to send off to either the IRS (with the proper forms) or your accountant. I have one of those, so I put my stuff together for the accountant which for me is a lot less stressful than having to do my taxes myself. Yes, it costs. But it’s worth it for my peace of mind.
So readers, in case you wondered, everything a writer makes in terms of sales is taxable, which means the government can take a chunk of it. So no, writing does not give anybody “free money.” It’s income. And therefore taxable. For writers who are just starting out, keep this in mind and start getting organized with regard to your expenses and earnings. Regardless of whether you’re publishing through a traditional house or doing it indie (or both), your royalties are taxable, depending on how much you make from them.
To help you get a handle on what you can deduct as a writer, try these links:
Today, I thought I’d give you an overview of my self-publishing journey. For those not in the know, I am a hybrid author, meaning I publish some of my stuff through traditional houses and I self-publish some of my other stuff. This model works well for me, because I have a full-time day job and I just don’t have the time to really devote to self-publishing all of my work.
Now, before I go any further, I am not at all saying that any one approach is better than another, though you will find people in all camps who wave that banner pretty high. That’s fine. The important thing for you if you’re an author is that there are pros and cons to all approaches. Do your homework and choose the model that best works for you. Some people may be best served through a traditional house. Others may be better off completely self-publishing. And others may choose a hybrid model. The point is, pick the one that best fits you (author, know thyself!) and the time and resources you have.
If you’d like an overview of self-publishing in general, see this post from Writer Beware, posted at the Science Fiction Writers of America.
And here’s hybrid author Chuck Wendig on some pros and cons to traditional publishing versus self-publishing.
So here’s an overview of steps that are involved in self-publishing. That is, the steps I go through. Please add your tips and links to the comments! Share your knowledge and experiences! Share the luv!
A colleague of mine and I were talking recently about things like contracts (woo. We’re wild, I know) and it occurred to me that maybe I’d do some tips for you regarding those.
Before I do a brief checklist, Women and Words has a post from a few years back on contracts, done by writer Fran Walker. Check that out HERE. A lot of that still stands, if you’re an author who is considering working with a traditional house. To be clear, I’m not weighting trad over indie here. Not at all. I myself am a hybrid (I do both trad and indie). I’m just offering some tips if you’re considering working with a traditional house.
Also, see my previous link HERE regarding things to watch out for in contracts. This post here is geared more toward the first-time author, but hey. It’s always a good thing to revisit stuff like this.
Okay, so let’s say you approached a trad house and they read your submission and they dug it, so they’re going to offer you a contract. You get that contract via email and you’re all stoked. What should you do?
I’ve been running around trying to get a print version of From the Hat Down up and operational.
It’s not working. It’s making me frustrated. REALLY frustrated.
The main issue is that the print people claim that the file I and my typesetter supplied is causing the print to be too light. You see, I ordered an ol’ skool paper proof, which means I ordered a preliminary version of the book, bound with the cover so I could see how it looks. The exterior looks fine. But the interior typeface is just too light. So I brought it up with the printer people who allegedly did some “tracking” to determine what the cause may be. Meanwhile, my typesetter checked, too. The settings in my typesetter’s file are fine. They’re where they need to be. The printer people insist they’re not (bless their hearts).
In the meantime, the book doesn’t get printed because I refuse to release a book whose type looks like it’s the 20th Xeroxed copy off another Xeroxed copy.
I spent around 15 years in publishing. My typesetter spent about 20. And my designer is still working in publishing. I met her 20 years ago at the press where we worked and at that point, she had a good 10-15 years of design experience under her belt. Ergo, we kind of know what we’re doing.
But the printer people are just not on the boat with us.
And this makes me Writer McCrankypants.
So, dear readers, at some point, I will have a print version available. For reals. But I want to make sure it’s a quality product that you will be able to read without thinking: “Damn. This typeface is so light.” Because that will make you Reader McCrankypants, and that is so totally not cool.
And yes, at some point, I will have some other e-formats available. Those issues are also contributing to my McCrankypants self. Send me some good ju-ju. Maybe the printer needs a ju-ju infusion, too. And all the e-platforms. Just massive good ju-ju everywhere. I think that will decidedly help. In the meantime, howsabout we listen to the playlist to From the Hat Down to make us feel better? Music always makes me feel a bit better.