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Posts Tagged ‘web site’

Death and taxes, the two unavoidables in life. Thankfully there are people and web sites out there to help us slot all those numbers in the correct places on the correct forms and keep us from having to visit with a friendly IRS agent because we’ve gotten “creative” with the numbers. Here are 7 links to help you understand how to do your taxes:

  1. The IRS — this one seems rather obvious. It’s their forms, their rules, so it makes sense to check out their site for answers to our questions.

  2. Tax Advice for Writers by Bonnie Lee — simple to read and easy to understand with a great section on hobby-loss information

  3. A Fool And Her Money — depending on when you’ve started getting your tax-related material together, The Money Book may be more helpful for next year’s tax season, but it’s a resource worth investing in

  4. Tax Tips for Writers a guest post by Jessica Monday — more information on what can be used as a deduction including what can happen when you sell your house

  5. Tax Tips for Writers Freelance Income Reporting by Rachel Campbell — includes information on deductions and what forms writers need to fill out

  6. Tax Tips for Freelancers by Julian Block — a short, but excellent article on bad-debts that can’t be deducted

  7. Taxes and The Writer by Daniel Steven — information on accounting methods, types of income and forms, as well as another list of deductions

Doing taxes can be frightening and overwhelming, not to mention disappointing if you have to pay instead of getting a nice refund, but it’s unavoidable on The Road to Writing.

I’d love to hear from all of you. Besides checking with a good tax accountant, what other tips do you have for doing taxes?

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I’ve been thinking about moving into a full-time freelance/independent author career a lot recently. The question that keeps coming up, though, is, “am I willing to give my all?” Being self-employed means independence — at a price. That price can be financial security. Being your own boss can be great, but unless you’re ready to face what it takes to be independently employed, you might be better off sticking with your day job for a while.

So what does it take? Planning. You don’t necessarily need to be debt free, according to Michelle Goodman, author of My So Called Freelance Life, but you do need a plan or you’ll spend your time hopping from one unsatisfying gig to another rather than living your dream. Michelle’s common sense, down-to-earth advice is to forget writing down lofty ideas and “think tangible, realistic, bite-size pieces.” Having a goal to write the next bestseller is a great ambition, but how are you going to get there? That’s your plan.

For instance, my goal is to become fully self-employed by a certain date. To get to that goal I’ve written down three steps: 1) finish my WsIP, 2) submit articles to Constant Content and other freelance web sites, and 3) monetize my blog once I move it to its new domain. I will break down each of those steps into monthly, weekly and daily steps. After writing those down, its only a matter of working my plan… and perhaps rewarding myself for a job well-done. Although accomplishing a goal should be its own reward, it never hurts to dangle a carrot in front of yourself. (I plan on going out for a nice lobster dinner. 🙂 )

Beyond setting down a series of steps on how you will reach your ultimate writing goal, you’ll need to assess your financial status. One of the best resources I’ve found in helping you figure out just what your financial state looks like is The Money Book. It’s a no-nonsense approach to looking at past financial blunders and realizing there is a better way to handle your money — a way that includes saving for those inevitable emergencies on a fluctuating income.

If you’re over your head in debt, you may need to keep your day job while working on becoming a full-time independent author. J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly took his steps into the world of self-employment in stages, cutting back the time he spent at the box factory a little at a time after all his debt, except his mortgage, was paid off. At the moment, that’s my plan as well: pay off everything except the largest debts before leaping into being a full-time freelance/independent author.

Living your dream is possible, but having a solid plan before you drop the safety net can mean the difference between succes and failure on The Road to Writing.

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We have the flu at our house, so this will be just a short post (and probably a bit scattered in its organization, so I apologize).  I hope to write more on the subject at a later date.  Perhaps by then I’ll have tried all the techniques suggested in the following links and will be able to give you a heads up on what’s worked best for me.

To begin, a lot of first time Independent Authors may think using a print ad will help sell their book.  Not so, says Morris Rosenthal.  Think about when you last purchased a book.  Did you buy it because you saw a great print ad that convinced you to buy it?  Not too likely.  You probably bought it either because you got a peek at what was inside or you heard a great review either by someone you know or another online customer (assuming you bought it somewhere like Amazon).

Going along with that is an article by Sam Henrie that gives tips on how to best market your book.  He says that authors shouldn’t focus on brick-and-mortar stores, but rather on online stores like Amazon and on online marketing.  At the very end of his article he states that every author should have a web site, which will help sell the books.  Some suggest publishing completely online.

On that, Morris Rosenthal says in his article “Book Marketing — Reasearch Competing Title Sales And How To Market Books Online”, “You can’t give the whole book away for free and not expect it to affect sales.”  I’ve been considering putting a chapter or two for potential readers on my web site (which I have yet to build :P).   We’ll see how that works for me.  According to Rosenthal, his sales jumped 200% when he put only the first three chapters of his book Start Your Own Computer Business: The Unembellished Guide on his site.

As for actual strategies on how to market a book online, I’ve discovered a wonderful free eBook called Plug Your Book by Steve Weber.  Weber says, “A single strategy won’t work, but a combined effort will produce results, and the effect will be cumulative.”  I plan on doing as he suggests and reading through the book entirely, then attacking each strategy in turn.  I’ll be keeping track of my progress on a calendar, as he also suggests, and plan on updating all of you as well.

Well, my “short post” wasn’t as short as I had planned, but sometimes that’s the way it goes on The (long) Road to Writing.

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It is my experience that web site design should be left to those who know what they’re doing.  It’s all too easy to buy a user-friendly program such as Front Page and whip together a site with all manner of bells and whistles (much to the annoyance of the visitor).  Or, somewhat better but no less unprofessional, is to buy a package deal from your web host that includes some kind of basic web design program.

Why am I being hard on writers who try to cobble together a site?  Because I am one of those writers who used to design web sites and I am by no means a professional.  Unless you’re a natural who understands both html and css (and whatever other web standards that crop up) putting together an eye-catching, user-friendly site can be difficult at best.  At worst it can be a complete disaster.  If you don’t believe me, check out Web Pages That Suck 2.0.

So what’s an Independent Author to do?  We all know it’s almost career suicide not to have a web site.  My suggestion is to make friends in the web design industry.  Find a starving student willing to design your site for a big discount (or free for the practice 😉 ).  Or, if you can afford it, spend the money on a professional who will design and maintain your site.  (Maintenance is crucial for sales.)

Barring all that, go ahead and design your own site, but keep it simple.  A clean look says professional more than all the “really cool” stuff combined.  When in doubt, check out Web Pages That Suck 2.0 to make sure you don’t fall into any traps.

With a little money and some effort you can have a great web site that stands like a clear road sign pointing to your work on The Road to Writing.

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