Monday, December 13, 2010

Why are you a publisher? - writing tip

My e-mail this morning brought a note from a frustrated author, asking:

If so much work is involved, and you make the same as me (which is practically nothing), why do you stay in this business?

Answer: Your question reminded me of a story my doctor told of going to attend a patient at the local “hospital for the mentally ill” which is situated on the banks of a lovely river. When he came out, he discovered he had a flat tire. While he was changing the tire, a patient wandered by and threw all his lug nuts into the river, while another patient, who was raking leaves nearby, watched.
“What am I going to do now?” the doctor wailed.
The second patient leaned on his rake a moment, then said, “Just take one lug nug off each of the other wheels, put the spare on, and drive to a parts store so you can buy some more lug nuts.”
“Wow, that’s great!” the doctor said. “How did you ever think of that?”
“I’m in here because I’m crazy, not because I’m stupid,” the patient replied.

And that's my answer. It's been said, often, that "None but a crazy person would work except for money." Yet this business gives me something beyond a monetary profit. It gives me hours of enjoyment, a bunch of friends (many of whom I've never met), and satisfaction.

Yes, I'm working on the year-end bookkeeping--summing up and counting my blessings.

We are coming up on the quarter again and sales reports will go out in January, along with W2s for all those who made more than $600. in 2010. Most e-publishers or POD-publishers don't need to send out W2s. There's a rumor going around on the writers' and publishers' groups that we MUST send them to all authors this year. Not true. Only to those who make MORE than $600. Those who did, will receive W2s from us as the law requires.

That doesn't mean the rest of you can't or shouldn't report your writing earnings as income. Trust me, the IRS isn't going to come back and say, "Oh you didn't make that money, because you have no W2." Only if you report earnings is it wise to deduct writing expenses from your income tax.

Another myth is that you have to make a profit if you claim expenses. No business is required by law to make a profit. Trust me, I know. But it will look mighty funny to the IRS if you stay in business ten years and never report any earnings. If you have sales, even copies you sell yourself at shows and signings, you have earnings. Save your quarterly letters, too, and report your total yearly writing earnings in the calendar year in which you receive them.

We report ALL sales, from all our outlets, both e-book sales and paper, even the new print-on-demand stations in the larger cities' B&N stores, where customers can order the book, go have a cappucino while it is printing, and pick it up and take it home the same day. We report quarterly and we pay every cent quarterly in the quarter after it is received (some outlets hold funds for three months or more before sending us a check), even if it's only $0.69 Only authors who have sales are notified, however.

Sales usually depend on the amount of promotion the author does as we are a small company and cannot afford to do national advertising.

Authors who social-network and who join and participate in online authors' and writers' groups, who list their books and where to buy them in the signatures of every e-mail they send, who set up a free author's page at sites like, who have their own domains and home pages, who send out press releases about coming signings and events, in short those who do the most promotion, do best.

A few authors sell very well. Many sell one or two books a quarter. Some sell none. All our authors are chosen because we admire their writing skills and believe in the worth of their work. In the past ten years, we have published more than 500 original titles and we have been proud of every one of them.

So the second, and perhaps the most honest, answer to the question that started all this is: we do this because we like to do it.


No comments:

Post a Comment