Today’s post certainly won’t grab fiction readers, but I know there are plenty of authors who tune into my blog. I’m slipping this one is in specifically for them, because it’s the best resource I’ve read on the subject yet.
Becoming a self-published author is frightening. Not only are you opening your creativity to significant criticism, you also have to navigate the entire world of Authorship alone. That means finding editors, formatters, and design artists; learning how to use new software and navigate unfamiliar publishing websites; and learning the ins and outs of marketing and promotions. It also means keeping accurate records for tax purposes.
This was by far the most terrifying aspect of authorship for me. I have zero experience with anything business, nor can I wrap my head around such concepts easily. Words and grammar, spacial art and design, historical research–yes! Numbers, accounting, IRS, legaleese–NO!
In all honesty, I’ve been winging it for years. I keep track of expenses and income, but beyond that, I just do a lot of finger crossing. How does one actually set oneself up as a legal business? What tax filing is required? What other records should I be keeping? Christina Mercer, self-published author and former CPA, answers all those questions and many more that I didn’t know enough to ask in her book Bean Counting for Authors. It was something of a relief to find out that I’d actually been operating as a Sole Proprietorship for four years and my feeble attempts to be on the up-and-up are sufficient from a legal standpoint. But Bean Counting does more than that. It describes other business models available for authors along with the pros and cons of each. It also breaks down legal terms, defines applicable taxes and an author’s legal responsiblities, and is filled with tips for more efficient management.
I’m actually still working my way through some of the meatier sections that require a little extra chewing. Most of the difficult stuff doesn’t really apply to me at the moment, and might never, but I want to understand it anyway. Fortunately, Ms. Mercer lays out her content clearly, concisely, and with a gentle humor. She gets that we’re not all going to grasp this stuff quickly, so she leads us through it gently, with lots of illustrations as to how, say, COGS (Cost of Goods Sold), NEXUS, or Sales and Use Tax might be relevant to an author. It’s tough stuff, but it’s need-to-know stuff, and it’s helping me gain confidence in my…yes, my author business.
Very well done and very helpful. I highly recommend it for those like me who really don’t have a clue what they’re doing from a business and financial standpoint. Grab a copy here!