Monday, January 27, 2020

Taxes and Writers

For American Writers Only

Did you know that you don't have to make a profit to write off your writing expenses?  You don't even have to be published or contracted to publish.  

All you have to do is prove that you are a working writer.  This can be as simple as having copies of your rejection letters.  

I'm not an accountant or tax attorney so here are some experts to give you even more information on writers and taxes.

Writers and taxes, General Information:


Monday, January 20, 2020


Do you need a prologue?

Used correctly, a prologue can add to a novel and grab the reader’s attention immediately. 

Used incorrectly, prologues are nothing but back story or an info dump which adds only a boring beginning.  They can also give too much information which takes away from the reader’s desire to learn more and make guesses.  

Most inexperienced writers believe that the reader has to be told everything up front, or she won't understand.  Readers understand, though, when various bits of important information are layered through the story.

So, do you need that prologue?  If it grabs the reader’s attention, and the first chapter can't, then the prologue works. If it doesn’t, don’t use it.  

Monday, January 13, 2020

Advice on Your Publishing Career

Publishing is a profession. Always act in a professional manner. This includes any situation where you are in public as a writer. 

Spelling, grammar, and clarity are part of that professional manner. Don't send out social media messages filled with errors because it reflects back on your craft.

Your editor/publisher/agent may be your friend, but she is first and foremost a businessperson. If it is a choice between making money and being your friend, she will choose the money almost every time. 

Learn the business so you will understand what is happening in your career. No one cares as much about it as you do.

Some publishers use the same kind of controlling behavior as abusive spouses. They convince you that you write crap and no one but them will want it, and they pay you accordingly. If you don't escape this abusive cycle, you will either self-destruct as a writer, or other publishers in the know will not touch you because victims in this situation usually lose their confidence to push their writing to the next level.

Publishing is a small world. If you p*ss off one editor, every editor in the business will know about it. Editors also move from publisher to publisher. The editor you annoy today may be your new editor tomorrow. 

Promote yourself, not your publisher or the type of books you write. 

If you create bookmarks or any other expensive promotion, use them to promote yourself, not your current title because it won't be your current title forever. 

Brand yourself as a certain type of writer and produce all your books to reflect that brand. Make certain that the same readers will be as happy with your next book. 

Strive to improve with each book. Strive to surprise with each book. Don't write yourself into a rut.

If you don't enjoy the writing, find another profession. The publishing business is brutal and, often, the only joy is in the writing. 

No amount of promotion will make up for a lack of distribution. 

It's easy to be seduced away from the hard aspects of writing by other creative things. Working on your website and book trailers is much more fun because they aren't part of that bottom line.

There is no such thing as privacy on the internet. Be discrete. The comment you make today will come back to haunt you later. 

If an agent or publisher lies about one thing, you shouldn't believe anything they say.

The advantage of a small press/epublisher is personal attention. The disadvantage is the owner's life crisis will shut down operations.

If the publisher believes that the contract terms only bind you, not him, run for your life.

If an agent or publisher says they are in the business to help writers, run for you life. They are almost always crooks.

Don't be ditzy and proud of it. No publisher wants a business partner who is an idiot.

Writing is physically taxing. Take care of yourself by exercising and eating wisely. You may have an extra hour to write by avoiding the gym or that walk, but you'll pay for it long term by having your body fail when you need it most.

Take care of your computer. Keep your virus software up to date and run repair utilities once a week. 

Back up your hard drive! Back up on a regular schedule. 

Back up your books and keep a copy or copies elsewhere. Most banks offer a free safety deposit box to regular customers. Keep a digital copy of your books there. A flash drive is perfect for this.

Keep a paper copy of your book. If your computer crashes taking everything with it, the paper copy is the very best back up. Paper copies never become an outdated format.

Keep adequate business records. Save receipts for business supplies, etc., so you can use them as business expenses on your taxes.

Keep all your promotion information in one spot. 

Read as much as you can about the business. If you don't understand something, ask questions. 

The writing craft is like athletic skill. Even a natural talent needs practice to improve, and you should always be learning something new about yourself and the craft.

A good teacher and a good critique partner are worth their weight in gold.

A writing career is a marathon, not a sprint. A winner keeps going for the long haul.

Writing is a hobby, an avocation, or a career, but it is not a life. Real life is what matters most. You will regret it if you look up from your keyboard one day to discover life has passed you by, and the writing wasn't worth the cost.

"I'm just starting [a new book] and the battle has already begun. I don't think they ever go smoothly. It's work. It should be work. It should be hard work. I think if you sort of sit around and wait to be inspired, you're probably going to be sitting there a long time. My process is more about crafting, working an idea through my head to see if it's a good concept." Nora Roberts in an interview with the "Hagerstown Herald-Mail."

“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life.There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure. Never forget your Personal Legend. Never forget your dreams. Your silent heart will guide you. Be silent now. It is the possibility of a dream that makes life interesting. You can choose between being a victim of destiny or an adventurer who is fighting for something important.” THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho

Monday, January 6, 2020

Why a Pen Name

One of the dreams most writers share is seeing a book with their name on the cover, but more and more writers are choosing a pseudonym (pen name).


Years ago, finding someone by just knowing their name would have required lots of effort or the use of a private detective.

These days, any search engine can give a person's address and even print out a map to their house in just a few minutes. We can find out if they are married, their kids' names, and about anything else we want to know.  

Years ago, authors didn't worry about the dangers involved with using their real name, but today, professional writers talk about stalker fans, scary letters from prison inmates, and identity theft they and their friends have experienced. 

I have never had any problems, but, if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't use my real name. 

Other reasons to use a pen name aren't so scary. 

If your books' sales stink, your traditional publisher or your agent may insist you change your name so that you have a clean slate with book distributors and bookstores who look at your last book's sales numbers before they buy or don't buy your book. 

If your next book has a different audience than usual, a new pen name will allow you to attract the right readers and not disappoint your regular readers. For example, if your books are sweet romances, and you decide to write erotica, you don't want to disappoint your fans or lose readers of erotica who think Jane Smith only writes romance with no blatant sex.

Some authors are so prolific that they write under two or more names because publishers don't want to publish more than X number of titles per author a year.

How can you keep your real name secret?

Just choosing a pen name isn't enough. Your real name will appear on the copyright information page.

To avoid this, you'll need to incorporate your pen name so that name will appear on the copyright notice instead of your real name.

You also need to tell friends and colleagues that you wish to keep your real identity secret. More than one author has been "outed" by careless friends.