Tax Help for the Self-Published Author

Tax help for the Self-Published or Soon to be Self-Published Author

taxespicBefore I begin, let me state that I am not a tax pro, CPA, etc etc. These are just tips I’ve accumulated over the years.

By Daniel Ottalini

Are you a writer? Got a brand new novel out and selling tons of copies! Wonderful! Uncle Sam would like some of your money!

Bummer. Here’s some things to do to ensure you get the most out of your self-publishing career.

1.) Keep records of all your expenditures. Did you have someone edit your book? Format it? Design a cover? A webpage? Did you pay for web hosting services? Great! You can write all that off against the income you made from your book! For example, this year I had Copper Centurion edited, formatted, had a cover made for it and Antioch Burns, along with Roma Aeronautica. All the money I spent on those I can write off against the income I made from the books. Be wary, depending on how much you spent, you may need to send some additional tax forms, but I have yet to have that happen to me.

2.) Don’t file until you have all your information. Make sure you have all your 1098-MISC forms before submitting your taxes, and if you use something like TurboTax, that keeps track from year to year, make sure you check the names on the MISC forms, as some have changed, such as Amazon, which has changed the name of Createspace and some other platforms a few times.

3.) Remember Home Office, Travel, and Professional Dues credits/deductions – This year I traveled to Portland, Oregon as part of the EPIC Convention. I could deduct a lot of the expenses I had there. Some people would say you could deduct everything, and that may be true, but you really need very good receipt tracking and book keeping for that. As far as home office goes, remember that you’re supposed to use the home office only for your ‘official’ work. So your generic home computer really doesn’t fly. BUT postage for kickstarter items, car rental for the convention, that does work! (And when I get a fancy new laptop, hint hint birthday genie, I may be able to write that off as well (provided I purchase it)).

4.) Realize you should have done a much better job of book keeping this year and resolve to do it better next year.

5.) Create a checking account you use just for book-related purchases and such, that way you can keep personal and ‘self-published’ things separate. Then stick to it!

6.) When all else fails, hire a professional.

❤ Ciao!

What is your novel worth?

For my self-published friends: What exactly is your book worth?

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the lack of postings/tweets/facebook messages, I’ve been stuck without my main computer! It died about two weeks ago and I’m still in limbo with it. I could replace the hard drive, but at this point, It may make more sense to simply get a new computer. Not sure yet.

Anywho, onto my main post.

As self-published authors, we are always facing the latest push to devalue our work. The average pricing for an ebook dropped roughly 50% this last year, according to a recent study. (I’ll find the source, but heard it on the radio!) So even the main stream publishers are facing pressure to reduce the price of their work. Understandably, there is pressure on self-published authors to get our work in ‘under the wire’ so to speak, at a reduced price, because hey, everyone likes a deal, right?

Consider what goes into making a book: Time + Money + Effort = Finished Product. You spend hours writing, revising, fixing a novel. Then you probably spend money sending it to someone else to be edited, revised, tweaked. You spend money on getting good cover art because, hey, people DO judge a book by it’s cover. You put in effort to promote, to network, to do all the legwork yourself or with only a few volunteers.

Face it: You, the self-published (or small-published) author works incredibly hard for your money. Why should you not ask people to pay for your work? And not just a pittance either. $0.99? for a full length novel?

If you spent $1,000 crafting your novel, and you sell it for 99 cents, using Amazon’s algorithm (i.e – 35% of each sale is yours), you would have to sell 2800 copies of your novel just to break even. Before any advertising & such. I once heard a quote somewhere that said the vast majority of self-published authors never sell more than 50 books.

Sell your novel for 1.99, you make 66 cents each book – you’ve cut the number of books needed to break even down to 1500. Already you’re doing a lot better. Up it to $2.99, and now you’re making 70% of each sale, 2.09 – now you only need to sell 478 novels sold.

If you truly think your work is only worth 99 cents, then sell it for that amount. Sometimes people ask me why my novella isn’t 99 cents. Because I don’t think it is worth that. Will I reduce the price in the future? Maybe. It is a short novella. But true fans will buy your work, regardless of whether it is 99 cents or 1.99 or 2.99. A true fan will not ignore your work because it costs a dollar more. Then it is simply someone who is out looking for 99 cent books, not someone looking for you.

So what is the point of this? Readers believe that everything should be cheap or free. But quality has a price. If you want readers to come to you because of the quality of your work, price it accordingly.

Thanks for letting me rant 🙂

Here’s what some other people have said…


Exciting moments and an announcement!

Copper Centurion reaches high up on the Kindle Steampunk Charts, plus an announcement about a new novella!

Carpe Diem to new and old readers alike! Thanks so much for your continued support! Today’s post will be brief, I just wanted to let people know that Copper Centurion already has two five-star rankings! Woot woot! Both of my novels reached up into the low 40s on the Amazon steampunk rankings chart the other day, but I want them up into the first tier!

In announcements, I will reveal that I am going to be working with a small publisher to publish Antioch Burns, the next novella in the Steam Empire Chronicles. Working with a small publisher will help me defray editing and formatting costs, which are becoming a bigger expense now that I’ve bought a house. This is was originally a bonus reward for kickstarter backers, who will get it a week to two weeks ahead of time, but it is also going to be available for sale, hopefully by November or December – long term planning and all, but I still have Roma Aeronautica to publish, which will be coming sometime in July or August, methinks.

So lots to do! But Centurion Julius Caesar has a message for you.

Go forth, Roman Citizen, and claim your book. Read it, love it, and leave a review so we may share our ideas with others. For the Empire!

Copper Centurion is available for download on Kindle, Barnes & Noble, as well as Smashwords.

Boo-yah 🙂 Ciao!

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