You're a writer, and without a doubt, you keep a copy of every story you've written. I'm sure you've plenty of files filled with fantastic story ideas, outlines, and descriptions. More than likely you also maintain a collection of great punch lines and unique character names scribbled on sticky notes, along with folders overflowing with printed versions of stories in numerous stages of editing.
Once you publish your work and even beforehand, you should focus your meticulousness that you pour into your writing and also apply it to your business records. That means you shouldn't toss receipts but keep track of them via balance sheets and income statements - in most cases a simple spreadsheet will do nicely.
I realize that this sounds horribly boring, but there are several reasons why keeping business records is imperative:
- In case you didn't know, writing is more than just a hobby - it's a business, and as with every business, it's prudent to keep track of your income and expenditures. Records will allow you to see at a glance if you’re making a profit or loss, identify which of your books or services are selling, and how to make your business more profitable.
- Come income tax return season or should you decide to apply for a business loan it's good to be able to provide financial statements such as balance sheets which clearly show your profit as well as losses.
- Identify the source of your expenditure. This information is vital in order to separate business from nonbusiness expenses and taxable from nontaxable income.
- Keep track of deductible expenses such as printer paper, ink cartridges, book contest entry fees, etc. You might just be able to save some money at tax time.
Just a few minutes a day should suffice to maintain your business records. I find that recording my income and expenses as they occur is much easier than trying to remember them months down the road or attempt to locate receipts during tax season. Granted this might cut a bit into your daily writing time, but not taking care of such matters promptly more than likely means that you'll have to forego writing for several days come tax time. If you should have any doubts about what's important, please consult a tax professional.
Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added her debut historical fiction novel In the Shadow of Her Majesty to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. When she isn't busy typing away on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Goodreads and Google+.