So the last couple of weeks I have been talking about the other side of preparing to publish, the setting everything up and getting all your social media, website and Amazon looking professional. Today I want to talk about another part finances!
Now the first thing I have to point out is not only am I not an accountant but I am not really expecting to make millions from my writing, though of course it would be nice. What I do want to do is eventually make enough money to not have to do the day job, and if I want that to be a realistic aim I have to be realistic and that means taking stock and learning to keep track of the pennies. Everyone says if you want to make a living from writing you have to treat it in many ways like any other business and that means keeping track of the money going out and the money coming in, though at the minute in my case it is all still one way.
I am going to share with you my spreadsheet or to be truthful the one I found online and changed the name on…
I started it in April which is of course start of the tax year here in the UK and at the end of June I stand at £88 and change in the red in terms of what I class as writing expenses. I thought it would be interesting to discuss a couple of them here.
Duotrope – I pay a monthly subscription of £3.39 each month, roughly $5, this gives me access to a market that lists journals and magazines actively seeking material as well as details for a whole range of others, it gives me details of their rates of acceptance, turn around, speed of initial response, as well as rates of pay. It also has a really good online submission tracker where you can enter details of each story and submission you make, which is very reassuring when you are waiting to hear back and it feels like you have been waiting months and in fact it has only been a fortnight. I think this is a really good resource for anyone wanting to get short stories or poetry out there.
Office 365 – I have had a nightmare with this, I decided to go with the 5 machine option at £7.99 per month, mainly as I thought it would be good to put my daughters laptop on the same account for when she was having a read though for me but also I hope in the near future to invest in a desktop set up as well as the laptop and I even considered putting it on the tablet. First they have messed me about a couple of times over the subscription but I did not want to shell out for 12 months at once even though it would have worked out a couple of pounds cheaper, then I discovered I cannot put it on the tablet because the tablet does not have windows. I think I may purchase a windows tablet for writing but to be honest that is not in the near future. The plus side of having the Office 365 is all the bonus features for online storage, templates and other things you don’t know you need until you do. As a writer Word is a must this ensures you have all possible versions available according to submission guidelines.
Skype – As part of my Office package I also get 60 minutes of international calls, I took out a yearly number rental which worked out a lot cheaper than doing it monthly and I also decided to add on a UK calls subscription for £1.55 a month which to be fair I don’t really need unless I am doing interviews online but as I hope to start doing those soon then it is worth it plus the combination of that with the number gives me a purely business number rather than using my personal ones.
Phone – now this one is probably wrongly labelled as maybe internet should be a better label, I used the amount as a round up figure taking both my broadband and mobile internet expenditure into account, however this is where things start to get more technical as I will explain in a minute.
Obviously there are other things I have paid for that are not in there, ink and paper for the printer, pens, journals, these are things I can actually put in but hadn’t thought to add in but will in future. The larger purchases such as domain names and websites, editing software for videos to make vlogs and also things like the camera and laptop. These are all things I had already paid out for, I cannot now add them into this year however things like my wordpress domain name and website domain name will be added in when I renew them and an new software or hardware will be also added which will take me further and further into the red. Several articles have mentioned if you write at home you can claim back for your office space but you need to work out exactly what proportion of your home in terms of square feet vs rent you can actually claim for. Likewise to fully claim for internet I would have to work out the exact amount of time spent on writing related online time vs leisure time for a percentage of the bill. You could also claim back for clothes to wear for book signings likewise possibly beauty treatments such as a trip to the hairdresser to do a public appearance.
The thing with all these things are you have to be making money before any of them become an issue but I have had it pointed out to me that getting into the habit of tracking these expenses now before they start building is a good practise to get into.
It would be nice if this time next year I could be starting the year in the black rather than the red.