Happy tax day yesterday! (Or at least to everyone in the states. Or was it tax day in other countries? I have no clue.) Anyway, speaking of doing your taxes, I have a little advice I'd like to share that falls into the "Don't do what I did" category.
Do you aspire to one day get paid for your book(s)? Then listen up.
Start saving your receipts NOW.
There are a ton of things that you may be able to write off as a business expense once you start to earn money for your books. AND HERE'S THE THING: You can go back to expenses for previous years. So let's say your eventual book deal is three years down the road. Then three years down the road, when you figure your taxes, you can claim expenses you incurred right now. (Here's the fine print. I am NOT a tax professional, and you should definitely consult your tax professional on all of this.)
Me-- I knew this! I just figured that I'd remember which conferences I went to, and I'd go through Amazon's history for the rest. Yeah. That isn't working out for me so well. I wish I had kept a manilla folder at my desk, and stuck every single writing-related receipt in it over the past four years. I have a LOT of work ahead of me this year because I didn't. DON'T TO WHAT I DID. Whatever point you are at right now, start over-keeping your receipts.
Here's some things to keep:
(Again, consult your tax professional.)
- Conference Tuition (along with any extras, like pitch sessions, manuscript critiques, intensives, boot camps, etc.)
- Mileage to conferences (or plane tickets, car rental, etc.)
- Food purchased while at conferences
- Books (not just books on craft; any that give you ideas / inspire your writing)
- Computer / laptop
- Internet (because of such an importance placed on social media, and also for research purposes)
- Subscriptions (to writing magazines, Publisher's Marketplace, etc.)
- Printing supplies (if you have to print out pages for revising, or for critiquing the work of others)
- Mileage to meet as a writing group
- Software used for writing
- If you hire an editor / consultant
- If you pay someone to design your blog
- If you pay someone to design your book cover
- Home office expenses (including a portion of utilities)
Seriously, stick all this stuff in an envelope and keep it. And stick all email receipts in their own folder in your email. You might save a few receipts you won't be able to use. But that's better than finding out there were things you could've used that you didn't save receipts for. The point is-- it is so much better to OVERKEEP your receipts than to underkeep them! Trust me.
If you think of any items I missed, please mention them in the comments, and I'll add them to this list. And if you're already earning money for your writing, tell us what has worked (or hasn't worked ;)) for you!