Making time, and having the financial means, to fuel your passions

Let’s be honest, publishing a book can be expensive.

Writing that first draft takes time away from other income-generating projects. There are also the months, or even years, of countless revisions, edits (structural, and detailed copy-editing) as well as other investments in things like editing, design, marketing, PR, and promotion.

Even if you are able to land a contract with a traditional publishing house, the out of pocket expenses and time spent on promoting and marketing your book will still add up!

Therefore, it pays to have a game plan that will keep your finances stable to ensure you have the income needed to afford to actually work on, and publish, your first book.

Are you taking yourself seriously as a writer?

The question you need to answer is, “Are you choosing to invest in yourself?”

Do some soul searching and decide if you want to plan to make writing your hobby or business. Some questions to ask:

  • Do you want to make writing your full-time income, part-time income, side gig?
  • Are you ready to give it the time and attention it deserves?
  • Are you passionate about making a living writing or are you happy with writing being “just a hobby”?

Before you tackle that book inside you, it’s important to decide if you want to make a substantial income from your writing. If not, it’s totally okay if you’re only using your income from writing to support your Kindle reading habit.

Generating income before you publish

Before you start working on your book it’s a great idea to plan ahead financially. You may decide you want to cut back your hours at work or complete some side projects to help pay for your book production and promotion expenses.

This is a great time to consider other freelance writing projects as well. There are hundreds of publications and websites that pay for your articles! Creating a pitching and production schedule in advance can help you earn a bit of extra income while writing your book: money you can save aside for your book editing and publishing efforts.

Some of the expenses you can expect to encounter as part of your publishing journey include beta readers, professional editors, book formatting, cover design, and PR strategists to help you craft a book marketing and promotion plan. You will also want to save for incidental costs like shipping hard copies of your book to carefully vetted reviewers and influencers.

Most first time authors are completely unaware of how much self-publishing done right can cost. I’m not trying to scare you off writing and publishing your book. However, my goal is to make you aware of the expenses you may encounter so you won’t get sticker shock further along in your journey.

Taxes and deductions

Once you decide to take the leap into pursuing your writing career professionally, it’s time to understand the law as far as self-employment is concerned. In addition to various means of earning money as a writer (part-time/full-time/freelance/independent contractor), each type of gig will affect your income tax situation. The self-employment tax in the U.S is currently at 20%, however, depending on your income level and expenses your actual tax bill could range from 7% upwards of 30%!

In the United States, tax laws and allowed deductions are ridiculously complicated! When calculating your business or self-employment taxes, you can claim everything from the depreciation on your laptop, to writing courses and conferences, to your travel expenses to meet with clients.

If you are living and working abroad from your home country it’s also important to consult an international tax attorney or tax preparer for advice. This way you can make sure you stay legal and in the clear with all the taxes you owe.

In addition to filing as an individual, some writers register as a corporation or “LLC” in an effort to save tax dollars.

Best financial advice for new writers.

In a nutshell, the best financial advice I can give blossoming writers is to treat their art as a profession.

How do you do that?

  1. Show up! Schedule writing time and be punctual. Just because you are working for yourself doesn’t mean you can slack off.
  2. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Learn how I use S.M.A.R.T. goals to manage my time and projects year-round.
  3. Invest in self-development. There are plenty of free writing courses online. In addition, you might want to register for a writing course at the local university or purchase some writing craft books.
  4. Network. Build your writing community. Attend conferences, join writing groups (online or off). Join NaNoWriMo.
  5. Be organized. Open a credit card or bank account for writing expenses. Save every receipt, invoice, and payment slip!
  6. Know your worth. As a hungry new writer, unpaid writing work is common place. Pad your portfolio with different types of writing first. After your portfolio is stacked, you are ready to be more selective about where you place your writing. Eventually, you might even need to turn down paid work because of time constraints! Just remember to value yourself and your craft and everything will fall into place.

Are you planning to transition from hobby writer to professional? Share your excitement and fears in the comments below!