Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WIP Wednesday: It's a Business

This year, I'm going to pay income tax on my writing earnings for the first time in my life. Taxes are scary.

This means several things:
  1. I've made enough income from a single source that the IRS will come find me if I don't.
  2. I can legitimately "write off" the home office as a business expense. 
  3. I need to start running my affairs as a business.
So what, exactly, does #3 entail?

When I started writing, I wasn't sure what, exactly, I was doing. My prose lacked and my business skills were none-existent. I've improved (a little) on the writing front. The only sure way to write better is to write more.

But this business thing?

Discussing money is a rather taboo subject, but money is at the core of a business. Last month, between formatting jobs, e-book sales, short story payments, and royalties from my publishers, I added over $500 to the family coffer. I'd be thrilled if I could do this on a consistent basis, but most of these "revenue sources" are variable.

And variable is scary.

I want my wife to be able to work part-time (she wants it, too). She can bring home about half of her current salary working part-time as a therapist (counselor). If I can crank my earnings from the writing/formatting "business" to about a grand a month, we can make it work. I'm heading that direction. But her counseling business is variable, and so is the writing.

And variable is scary.

I've been writing longer than I have treated it as a business. Businesses have plans. I need a plan.

My heart wants to write another book right now. My business manager tells me to get to work revising and editing In the Memory House so I can make a release date in December. Heart and business manager need to compromise.

Or maybe I need a new business manager, because I'm keeping my heart.


Anonymous said...

So, is that the amount the IRS starts to find interesting? $500+? If so, I'm safe for now. =]

Barry Napier said...

Very nice to hear that you're closing in on becoming a full-time writer. And just let me say...I am SO looking forward to In the Memory House!

Anthony Rapino said...

Congrats on the take! Yeah, variable is definitely scary, but it sounds like you're on your way.

Daniel Powell said...

Hi Aaron,

Great post! Tell that business manager to mind the numbers while the writer gives him more product!

It's a nice problem to have, of course. I had a student in here just today asking about covers. I wrote your address down, so here's hoping you get an e-mail when the text is finished!

Aaron Polson said...

Milo - I'm not sure the exact figure, but I do know it matters where it comes from ($20 from 100 sources reads a lot differently than $2000 from one...especially if those 100 sources don't the payment to the IRS).

Barry - I guess that's what I'm doing. Baby steps. Best of luck with The Bleeding Room.

Tony - I like my day job (at least the regular paychecks).

Daniel - Thanks for the reference. I suppose there's room in the "house" for the heart and mind.

Cate Gardner said...

I keep waiting for the Inland Revenue to knock at my door and ask if I'm lying when I say I spend more than I earn. :(

Katey said...

I just hit that business point, as in this month, myself. It's scary enough when I'm NOT trying to do what you and your wife are -- I can only imagine.

But you're good. And you don't quit. Thank god for us.

Katey said...

Oh that should've read "thank god (for us)." As in we are lucky.

But thank god for US is good too, now I think of it.