A new year begins and it offers authors an opportunity to set calendar goals and prepare a budget for the coming year.
Here are 10 things to help you in your business of being an author in 2016.
1) Prepare a list of business expenses you anticipate. Look over last year’s expenditures. Postage, webhosting, submission fees. Consider what new expenses you may require to achieve your publishing goals. Editors, website designers, photocopying, library fees, ink cartridges, professional memberships, book purchases, subscriptions.
2) Create a planning calendar. Conferences or registrations for writing workshops? Put them into your calendar and your budget. Grant or writing competition deadlines?
3) Prepare a budget for doing business as an author in 2016. Based on your previous year, project your monthly expenses and add new items to your annual agenda. Project your income from earnings during the coming year.
4) Set realistic goals for generating monthly revenue from your writing. Make a list of venues where writing is paid per article or per word. Create a submissions strategy and calendar. Budget your time over the next 12 months to achieve more paid work. Brainstorm on what services you could be paid for based on your expertise and authority as a writer. Speaking fees, docent or tour guide, workshop registrations, lessons, or grants and awards are additional revenue streams from authors.
5) Record the mileage of your vehicle on January 1, 2016. Keep a mileage log for business trips in your vehicle. If you itemize travel and mileage for the business of being an author, then you need to keep accurate records. You need to document your mileage on business separate from the vehicle’s mileage used for personal purposes.
6) Identify major expenses for the coming year. If your book will be released, you will need additional funds for your book launch, publicist, and travel. You are responsible for the costs of indexing and copyright permissions fees. Your publisher does not have a budget for these author expenses. You need to plan ahead and create a savings plan. This is your investment in your book’s future.
7) Identify major events and milestones for your book in the coming year. Consider keynote speaking engagements, launch events, book clubs, public libraries, lecture series, TED-x talks, conferences, book fairs, literary festivals, writing workshops, etc. Begin now to budget and schedule to make them happen this year.
8) Review your mailing lists. Contact Relations Management is an ongoing process, but an annual review can leverage your lists’ effectiveness. You might have a “broken” signup button on your blog site and not know it. Your MailChimp list continues to dwindle and you haven’t downloaded backups of your private email lists in a year. Check your electronic mail identity. Does your system work for you as an author? Do some beta-testing of systems and update all your account information. And change your password.
9) Review all your password accounts online related to your electronic identity. Update your avatar. Are you using the same author headshot consistently across platforms? Has your address changed? An annual review of your accounts and updating your information is smart business for an author.
10) Create an organized filing system for your business records in 2016. It is highly recommended you seek qualified professional advice from a certified tax accountant. Your primary obligation is to document your professional efforts to publish your writing. Unfortunately, it is quite rare to make a living wage as an author. Accountants have a hard time understanding how hard you work and how little you are paid. I recommend the Author’s Guild as an organization which advocates for authors with their Fair Contract Initiative and provides good data on income surveys.