Writing, Self-Publishing, and Making Money

I want to make money with my writing. There. I said it.

Not only do I want to make money, I want to make enough money to where I can make a living at my writing. Now, why am I saying this? Isn’t this something that most writers want to do? Isn’t this something that most writers dream about? There is a romanticized view of the writing life that we can make all this money writing on a beach in Maui and living the dream. That can happen…but not likely. In order to make money at writing—especially as a self-publisher—then you have to be smart about money from day one. Because I’m starting over, my approach this time around is much different than before. I’ve done months of research and I’ve learned a ton so I want to pass on a small tidbit which I believe is huge in the long run.

One of the problems in the United States is its idea about money and how to use it. Most people think of money in a way of how they want to spend it. This is why there are so many people who don’t invest their money as much as spend it. This is why there are so many people who are slaves to their money. I’m here to tell you that it makes a horrible god.

Is it possible to make money as a self-published author? Of course. There are far too many people doing it and doing it successfully. Mark Dawson, Chis Fox, and Nick Stephenson just to name a couple. There are many that we haven’t even heard of that are flying under the radar doing rather well. One that you may want to check out is a guy who is legally blind but still cranking out the books in fantasy and paranormal whose name is T.J. Garrett. It’s a pretty inspiring story and should light a fire underneath you to get out there and write.

So, if you’ve established that you want to make money with your writing (no, it is not an evil thing), what’s the best way at going about it? Well, I believe it’s having a plan before you start writing.

There are some ways to make money at writing that have nothing to do with selling books. You read that correctly. Let me give you one: taxes.

I was watching a video with Chris Fox and his earnings for 2016. I appreciate the guy and his candor about how much money he was making that year though it was motivated by another author saying something about his book Write to Market. In that video, he broke down his expenses and his expenses were about $52,000 while his taxes were $48,000. Yeah. He paid almost as much in taxes as he did in expenses. Now, when I saw that, I instantly went into calculator mode and saw two things:

  1. He was paying too much for the services he was using. However, that may have been deliberate.
  2. He was paying WAY too much on taxes. I know that wasn’t deliberate.

The way around this is to plan your business beforehand. That means making some kind of business entity. Whether that be an LLC, C-Corp or S-Corp but any is better than a straight sole-proprietorship tax-wise if you start making some substantial money. It also says to people you are downright serious about your writing because it is no longer a hobby but a full fledged business. This is also good for your mindset as well because you’re less likely to look at this as some kind of side gig and more in a professional light.

Now, I’m no lawyer so you have to do your due diligence and figure out what is best for you with the money that you’re making from your writing. Either talk with an attorney or do the research. Preferably both.

One thing is for sure. Making $170,000 and paying $48,000 in taxes is NOT the way to go. That hurt me and I didn’t even earn the money. So, Chris, if you are reading this and if you haven’t already, fire your accountant if they didn’t tell you that from the beginning, speak to an attorney and form a business entity.

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