Saturday, March 2, 2019

Author Connections: Can't I Write Off My Expenses?

Are you writing a book? Do you have one or more books that you self-published on your own? Are you hopeful that you will sell a LOT of books and make a LOT of money as an author? I really thought this would happen for me back in 2010. But it didn't. At first, I felt discouraged. Then...

I listened to a number of book marketing webinars, courses, read articles, and more. While I still felt discouraged, I also realized I had unrealistic expectations. Yes, my books are available on Amazon, but so are millions of other books.

I found out that very few authors earn more than $100 a year in book sales... unless one or more of the following exists:

1. You have a coaching or other business/profession, and your book relates to your coaching or business/profession.
2. You are often invited to speak at events and sell books at these speaking events.
3. You create a course based on your book (and have buyers).
4. You have a network of people who have a huge mailing list (email) and support you by (emailing) everyone on their list about your book.
5. You are already famous.
6. You meet someone who is famous and loves your book.
7. You are good at marketing or you have the budget to hire a publicist.
8. A movie producer wants to invest in turning your book into a movie or TV show.

Even if you have one of the above, the costs involved in getting your book into print may far exceed what you will ever get in sales. Think going to concerts, ballets, out to eat, decorating your home, and shopping for clothes you will only wear once. It is best to invest in your book as an experience without getting caught up in the money aspect of it all.

Since I started out on my author journey, here's what I have learned.

1. Don't make your books about money. Make them an AVENUE TO REWARDING EXPERIENCES AND CONNECTIONS. 

I have met many wonderful people at local author events, some of who have become friends. If I felt up to traveling, I could participate in many more. I talk to other authors, and we share information among each other that can be of benefit to either us or someone else. I've learned about all the different publishing companies who took thousands of their dollars to get their book into print. I have met writers who are thirsty to get their book published but don't know how or where to begin. It feels good to pass information onto them.

2. Unless you make a profit within five years of publishing (after all your expenses), the IRS determines this as a hobby. 

Tax Guidelines for Book Authors

You can't just buy a new computer, software, and printer with the hope you can write it off on your taxes. The same applies to paying for editing and other services. By all means, save all your receipts just in case you DO sell a lot of books. If you have a regular accountant or tax preparer, you can get more information from them.

Think of someone who loves to knit or crochet and buys yarn, totes, hooks, books, and more. Think about the artist who invests in canvases, paints, brushes, and other supplies. Maybe the artist loves digital, so they invest in a computer, software, and a drawing pad. Think of someone who loves photography and buys a new camera, lenses, tripod, computer, software, and more. Same with quilting (think buying an expensive loom, quilting machine, and many different pieces of fabric) and wood-working (buying all the tools), etc. In the meantime, you make gifts for family and friends. Maybe you sell some of it on Etsy or at local markets. You meet other people with similar interests and make new friends.

I found an art gallery and framing business in the next city that holds an event on the first Friday of every month. At each event, an artist or two is featured. On the same night, there may be a photographer, author, and musician. I look forward to mingling with all the talented, inspirational people. I make new rewarding connections and enjoy being around a lot of creative people. And yes, if I felt up to traveling, I'd participate in many more events.

There are many writers conferences being offered -- some that also have agents. You will pay to go to these, and travel is often required. Think vacation. If you were to go to Hawaii, you'd pay for airfare, hotel, restaurants, a rental car, taxi service, etc. You go for the education and experience.

A note on agents: publishing companies want what is popular. Agents may like your book but expect you to rewrite it according to what publishing companies want. I listened to a local author speak about her experience with agents. After rewriting numerous books according to agents' instructions, she finally found a publishing company who accepted her book the way she wrote it.

Write because it is fulfilling like an artist paints for fulfillment. Yes, there are some artists just like authors who made it to fame.

Keep creating. Keep dreaming. Keep networking.

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