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To help the author develop and create the best book possible. Material that has both commercial appeal and long-term value.


To help the author determine the next best step in their writing career. Giving counsel regarding the subtleties of the marketplace as well as the realities of the publishing community.


To help the author secure the best possible contract. One that partners with the best strategic publisher and one that is mutually beneficial for all parties involved.

Recent Posts

Deadlines and Taxes

by Steve Laube


Two certainties in the life of a writer. Deadlines and Taxes.

You know what a deadlines is. It has the word “dead” in it for a reason. And intrinsic to the reality of taxes is that April 15th filing deadline.

But what about those taxes?

Many articles appear in early April about taxes when approaching the filing date. But I thought we should explore a couple items now so there won’t be any surprises come April.

First, the obligatory disclaimer. I am not a tax attorney or a tax accountant. I am merely discussing concepts and ideas which you may or may not use in your situation. And, as always, when it comes to your taxes, make sure to consult a professional.

Some of you may roll your eyes and say, “I already know this.” But remember there was a time when you did not. I get many “beginner” questions each year from debut authors who are discovering much of the business side of this industry for the first time.

Keep Good Records

One advantage of the self-employed writer is the ability to deduct certain expenses as they relate to the writing profession. Writers conference fees, writing magazine subscriptions, web site hosting fees, promotional items used to market your book, etc. These are possible deductions, but you must have a record of each expense.

And I mean keep everything. Receipts, ticket stubs, bank statements, check registers, ATM receipts, mileage (when and where and how far). Nowadays a good scanner and smart use of Evernote can put it all in one place.

Now is the time to start trying to recreate your 2011 expenses if you haven’t already done so. Trying to find that receipt on April 14th might be a challenge.

Hobby-Loss Rules

If you are writing as a hobby or for something that only occasionally earns money, then you can only deduct expenses equal to the amount of your revenue. In other words you can’t buy a submarine and claim it was for research for that underwater thriller you’ve been trying to write for years.

But if you have the “intent” to derive a living from your writing you can show a loss (and maybe deduct that submarine!?) Proving intent is something judged case by case. Put it this way, if you show a loss in your writing business for five consecutive years, expect a red flag to appear in the IRS inbox. It is commonly understood that the IRS will accept that you are running a business if your writing work shows a profit in at least three of the last five tax years. But in an audit the IRS can go back many years and determine if your deductions were valid. If disapproved you will end up with a very expensive new tax liability and additional penalties. Here is the official page on the IRS site for their Hobby-Loss Rules.

Separate Your Home from Your Business

As much as possible keep your household income and expenses separate from your income and expenses for writing. It can be as simple as keeping a separate bank account. (This is one way to prove “intent,” see above.) And then keep records separately for the business using Quicken,, or a spreadsheet.

If you work out of your home, consider exploring the “home office deduction.” But be careful. If you write occasionally from the home computer and that computer is used by other family members for things other than your writing business, it is likely you will not qualify.

I know of some authors who have a separate phone line (or cell phone) just for their business. That way interviews and publicity inquiries from the Today Show don’t come to the house where your teenager answers the phone and shouts, “Mom! Some dude is on the phone for you!”


I can recommend the book New Tax Guide for Writers, Artists, Performers and Other Creative People by Peter Jason Riley. This is one of the few annually updated tax guides that helps those in the arts. This 2012 edition is supposed to be available soon.

The other is Carol Topp’s Business Tips and Taxes for Writers. (Amazon link; Kindle link; Direct) It is simple, clear, and specifically intended for the writer.

And last, an excellent book The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: The Only Personal Finance System for People with Not-So-Regular Jobs by Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan. It is one of the few books out there that is specifically designed to help those in the arts.

For many of you, numbers are either a toxic topic or the equivalent of hieroglyphics. But take this issue seriously. The writing profession is ultimately a business. Granted a business based in the Creative Arts, but it is still a business. Talk to a qualified tax accountant if you have questions. Never rely on the hearsay of another writers who gives anecdotal information at a writers conference. The IRS won’t accept the excuse that “Sally told me it was okay to write-off my Australian Cruise because I was researching an article about Sydney!”

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How Many Critiques Spoil the Broth?

Today I’ll give my opinion on a question sent to our blog:

When an author is trying to find the right Genre to write in for a particular subject, is it profitable to listen to only one critique? 


The author who posed this question is in the discovery phase. Writers who read lots of books and have developed a love for many types of stories often have trouble deciding what to write. Often I receive proposals from new authors who tell me they have written, for example, romance, women’s fiction, and romantic suspense and want me to market all three. From a statistical perspective, that makes sense. Isn’t it more likely that three proposals going to thirty places will be more likely for at least one to find success than one proposal going to six places? Well, no. This is because authors are better off finding their writing passion and pursuing that with the best book they can write rather than researching and writing across the board. For instance, romantic suspense and contemporary romance have in common the fact that the story’s main plot point is the relationship between a modern hero and heroine. However, a romantic suspense writer must be willing to learn about police procedure and the law, but contemporary romance authors usually don’t because their books focus on different types of conflicts.

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Let Creativity Flow (Part One)


There are days when it flows as free as the Rogue River (and anyone who’s ever been to Oregon knows that’s free indeed!) When ideas come so hard and fast you can scarcely keep up. When the words fly from your fingers, through the keyboard, and onto the page. When creativity happens, it’s electric, exciting, energizing.

And then there are other days.

Days when you sit at the keyboard, staring at a blank screen. When you type…delete…type…delete…and on and on. Every word is a struggle, every character wooden, every plot point contrived. And you ask yourself, for the 110th time, “Why?”

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Did You Miss Today’s “News You Can Use”?

For quite some time we have been providing various links on Tuesdays under the title “News You Can Use.” This post takes considerable time to compile. But since it doesn’t create discussion or comments we have little idea if anyone is reading this weekly post. Therefore we are asking if …

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