As soon as you sell your first piece, you're a business. In fact it's a good idea to start up ahead of that first sale so you can claim expenses for anything you buy and use towards your writing endeavours when it comes to preparing your tax return later on.
So you're at that point where you can now give writing your full attention and maybe you thought all you had to do was write (rewind two and a half years and that's what I thought too!) but it's actually more complicated than that. You're now self employed. Scary stuff! And there's a lot to think about and a lot of hats to wear - remember my post The 10 jobs of a modern day writer?
The good news is, it's never been a better time to be a writer because the online world of self publishing is brimming with possibility. However, the bad news is, you've got to work your ass off. But you knew that.
Here are some links to give you an insight into my own tax(ing) journey:
For help with setting yourself up as a registered writing business, check out my blog post here.
For guidance on the tax return itself, what you can claim and how it's calculated, check out this post.
Why I'd rather eat a doughnut than file a tax return - check out this post when I eventually had to file my first return and how it went.
A few more thoughts and considerations on becoming a pukker writing business:
- Open a business bank account.
- Keep track of EVERY expense - trust me, it's so easy to forget! Business cards / any production and promotional costs you may pay out to freelancers for book cover design, editing, printing and marketing / paperclips / postage and shipping receipts / paper for your printer / envelopes / stamps / pens.
- Free book promo websites are great but be prepared to shell out for some advertising with Book Buzzr, Kindle Nation and Goodreads.
- It's ok to show a loss at the end of the tax year. Depending on any other income you might be earning (ie. from a part time job), you may even get a tax rebate as I did in my first year. Don't forget, tax is always paid in advance, so if you quit your day job halfway through the tax year, you've already paid tax for that year so you'll be due some of it back.
- Plan a budget for the year which includes the marketing and production for any works you plan to publish within the year. That way you're ahead of the game.
- Think about a business plan. Actually, don't just think about it, WRITE ONE. How many books would you like to publish in the year? Where do you want to take your author platform? What ideas for marketing do you want to experiment with? Put the vision to paper. I've started doing it finally and it's really helping me to focus. Write down the steps needed to accomplish each task. Breaking it down in this way will stop you feeling overwhelmed.
For a great article on collecting all the vital data to help you stay in control of your new business, check out Simon Whaley's Data Collator article here.
For more information on self employment, visit the HMRC website.