Friday, January 12, 2007

Low Budget ...

The first goal of the quarter is to set up a financial budget for writing expenses. This puts the cart before the horse a little bit since there is no projected writing income. However, this is a business and I need to be prepared. Besides, I have to admit:
[WARNING: Ubergeek statement to follow! Please escort small children from the room!]

Playing with spreadsheets is fun.

The amount was a little tricky, again as there is no income. Since the night job is interfering with the writing, it seemed a good idea to divert a little of that towards the preferred career. After consulting with my better half, I decided to set aside three paychecks/six weeks of part-time income towards writing expenses. Not a huge sum, but then it's not like I'm going on a book tour this year.

That left setting up some categories and estimating expenses for them. I won't go into detail since a lot of it is mundane office supply stuff. There are a few things I was on the fence about and for which I would be interested to hear thoughts, experiences, and opinions.

Business cards: This is a convenience more than a need. Right now, in the rare instance I'm asked about my writing, I mention my website. But I don't expect people to remember URLs. It would be nice to have a card to give out. It would be nice when I go to Boskone to have something to hand out if anyone expresses an interest. The downside is maybe it looks a little silly since it's so early in this career. But I think I'm going to go for convenience over what others may or may not think.

Web Hosting: I'm getting by with the free site hosted by Microsoft. The site is stuck in beta even though new users get the enhanced tools. Even so, it is very limited and my inner tech geek wants to play with php, er, that is enhance the end user experience of those visiting the site. The trick will be transferring the domain. Again, not a must have but more control will allow me to make the site look a tad more professional.

Peer Support: Most of us writers are in the same boat and we all gotta bail. Others have said this better but the bottom line for me is it's the right thing to do. Aside from buying books written by new authors there will also be some cash to help out Duotrope, Forward Motion, and the occasional struggling publication as necessary.

I was tempted to add liquor to the budget, but in life there are a lot of other reasons to have that beer at the end of the day.


Blogger Camille Alexa said...

Playing w/ spreadsheets is fun, huh?

Have you ever checked out Anna Louise Genoese's (Tor editor) demystifying publishing index? She likes that stuff, too.

"P&Ls and how books make (or don't) money"

I didn't understand a bit of it, but it might be fun if I did.

January 15, 2007 at 2:50 AM  
Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

Good luck with the budget. Myself, I personally go with the guilt budget plan. Can I live with the guilt I'd feel for doing this or buying that? Works like a charm, most times.

January 15, 2007 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

Between Anna Louise Genoese and J.A. Konrath's blog (which has a new index) I've gotten a great understanding of how publishing works.

I also know how laws are made.

If I could find a good tutorial on sausage production, then the horror would be complete.

January 15, 2007 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger Southern Writer said...

I'm thinking about having to file the taxes soon. I've saved all the receipts for manuscript printing and postage, and it totals several hundred dollars. My income - not so much. Do I remember correctly that we can only deduct as much in expenses as we made in income?

January 16, 2007 at 1:41 AM  
Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

Todd, the making of sausage is easy, stuffing ground meat and spices into casings (natural or otherwise). It's how and what they make the ground meat from that you don't want to know. And if you're squeemish, don't find out what natural casings are.

Southern Writer, IANAL or a tax consultant, but I believe you can report more outgoing than incoming as a business loss. You'll want to ask a local CPA, though, as the IRS gets finicky around things like that and some states allow things others don't. There are limits to everything and you may have to take that loss over several years, etc., etc. A tax accountant will be able to help you with that.

January 16, 2007 at 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Schoolhouse Rock Rocks! I have an old VHS of the whole shebang.

Southern Writer, if you treat writing as a hobby, then yes, you can only deduct expenses up to the amount of income. However, if you treat it as a business, then you may deduct all expenses. The IRS has definitions to determine whether you qualify as a business, and one of them is a minimum of 500 hours spent on The Business. I keep a log.

Do you do your own taxes? Take a look at Schedule C; that's what you'll use to deduct your business expenses.

January 16, 2007 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

Interesting, and very helpful.

When you track your time, what do you include, if anything, beyond writing/editing? Blogging? E-mail's? Trips to the post office?

January 16, 2007 at 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trips to the Post Office, the library (so long as it's to 'study'), to Office Max...

I hadn't thought about including blogging! I just write down an estimate...I print out a calendar and every day I'll note what I did (submitted something somewhere, wrote 1200 words, edited #pages) and a time, like 1 hour, 3 hours, etc.

January 18, 2007 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Southern Writer said...

Let's see 20 hours a day, six days a week (at least), 350 days a year ...

January 19, 2007 at 12:09 AM  

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