Wednesday, May 7, 2014

After The Book Deal Blog Tour Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier





So we have all read about an author’s struggles to get their books published, the numerous rejection letters, or in some cases 9 novels rejected and the tenth finally being THE ONE. We’ve heard of writer’s signing contracts while they are still in college. But what happens after that? Yeah they’re writing, especially if it’s a series, but what is really happening. Their lives are different now. Or maybe not.  What really happens after that first book is published. What does a writer do?

When Jonathan Auxier’s literary agency approached me about being on this blog tour it was very timely. I had recently come back from a book signing where the question was asked “What was the most unexpected thing about being an author?” And each author answered that there was no manual, no path to follow for how their career was supposed to go. They said they had to learn to go with the ups and downs because three calls out of five from their agents could be great, but the next one could make their heart stop beating. So it’s with great pleasure I give my blog over to Jonathan Auxier, author of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes  and the upcoming The Night Gardener.


AFTER THE BOOK DEAL – Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier

The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!

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The Root of All Evil: Financial Planning for Authors
Today I thought we’d spend a little time talking about something NOBODY talks about in publishing ... money!

Money is a tricky subject. Many authors are afraid to ask basic questions for fear of somehow seeming unprofessional (I know I was). While my own experience is not universal, I have learned a few things over the years. Below are a few general pieces of advice that new authors might keep in mind ...

Don’t Quit Your Day Job ... yet!
This is very common advice that many new authors (including me) fail to follow. The fact is, publishing money is very slow to arrive—sometimes taking years between sale and receipt of check. For that reason, I would advise authors—even those with contracts in hand—to stay at their current jobs for as long as humanly possible. In the lean years between books, you may need that cushion to stay afloat. So when do you quit? That depends on your personal situation, but I would say that the moment when your responsibilities as an author are such that your day-job is actually holding back your career. 

Save Every Receipt
Now that you’re an author, you’re likely filing taxes in a completely different way. Writers are actually allowed to claim itemized deductions on a lot of things: movies, books, stage shows all fall under “research.” Dinners with friends in your same industry count as “business meetings.” Learning what expenses can and can’t be deducted is a tricky thing. For now, make sure that you save EVERY receipt—just stuff them in a drawer in your office. Come tax season, you’ll need to take them out and organize them for your tax preparer. Don’t settle for HR Block—make sure you’re working with someone who actually knows how to file taxes for artists. For those wanting to know more about this subject, I might recommend you get a copy of Scott Rubenstein’s DVD lecture about filing taxes as a writer.

Get a Good “Business Partner”
File this under “reasons Jonathan is lucky.” The fact of the matter is that I married a wonderful woman whose many qualities include money management. She is a saver, a careful spender, and a thoughtful planner. In a career that involves getting lump sums every few years, this skill is essential. If you don’t have someone in your life who can help you in this way, then you need to make sure you have that skill yourself.

Live Someplace Cheap
I spent several years working as a screenwriter in Los Angeles before I became an author. By the time I sold Peter Nimble, I had already decided that I didn’t really want to write screenplays in Los Angeles (for a variety of reasons, most of which could be summed up as “I hate the sun”). So, once I had a book out, my wife and I decided it was time to set up shop in a cheaper part of the world. We settled on Pittsburgh, which is arguably the most livable city in America. Real estate is dirt-cheap, which means our expenses stay low, which means I can keep writing full time. Moving to Pittsburgh is what allowed me to take three full years between my first and second book—time that proved absolutely essential for my creative process.  

In Summary
As I said before, every person’s financial situation is different. Hopefully you have an agent you can come to with money questions (if you’re afraid to ask your agent about such things ... you might want to re-examine that relationship). Two great resources on this topic are posts by John August and John Scalzi, which I definitely recommend you read. Remember: the main goal is to ensure the time and space to write your next book. If you truly believe in the stories you are telling, then everything else should come second!

That’s it for AFTER THE BOOK DEALTomorrow we’ll be talking about the perils of professional jealousy. You can catch up on previous posts (listed below), and please-oh-please spread the word!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL – Stops So Far
WEEK THREE: The Business of Being an Author5/5 – Handling Reviews … the Good and the Bad!
5/6 – Back to the Grindstone: writing your next book
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JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores on May 20—why not come to his book launch party? You can visit him on line at  www.TheScop.com where he blogs about children's books old and new.

You can also find him online below
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Be sure to spread the word!

Thanks Jonathan!

14 comments:

  1. It's always nice when someone finally steps up and talks about something no one else talks about even though everyone is probably dying to ask:) This sounds like great advice and applies far beyond just those who want to be writers. Thanks for sharing Jonathan and Heather!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Jenny I am sure, as a freelancer already, you know how to navigate the finances, but since you've changed your focus I bet it's a little different. You should check out the whole tour.

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  2. Thanks for reading, Jenny! Really, these principles apply to any person working freelance. But, as you mentioned, people are somehow reluctant to discuss this stuff. I would definitely recommend the posts I liked to by Scalzi and August ... well worth a read!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent post. I would add a few detail points.

    1. Before you shove a receipt in the drawer, see if it has enough info on it that when you file your taxes months later, you'll be able to tell what it was for. For most expenses the IRS needs to know place, date, amount, and business purpose (see http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Deducting-Business-Expenses and http://www.irs.gov/publications/p463/ch05.html). You can also go paperless using an app like Expensify, which will reduce the data-entry burden at tax time.

    2. Know your "burn rate!" The first and perhaps most important thing you need to know, in order to plan your finances, is how much you spend per month on average.

    3. Guess conservatively about income. I have a spreadsheet which pits my burn rate against my expected earnings for about 3 years out. This tells me if I'm likely to run into trouble. Every time a check comes in, I compare it against the amount (and date) I was expecting. The goal is to get a little more than I guessed, so the guesses should be deliberately low. If making the spreadsheet look okay requires more optimistic guessing, then that is a problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gareth -- you're totally right! Usually between pocket and box, I jot a note down on the receipt to remind myself about its purpose. Good call!

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  4. If I was an author I would definitely be reading this. A lot of helpful material and good advice for wannabe authors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really. The whole tour has some very interesting posts, like about the first signing, your head shot, what if no one shows up to an event.... very good advice. Things I've wondered about.

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  5. Love the post. Now if I could only write. I couldn't write my way out of a paper bag. Wait a minute, I could just stab my way out... but then again that is like my writing. LOL

    Seriously, I need to direct some potential writers this way...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe you could write about stabbing yourself out of the paper bag, lol!! You are so creative I just don't believe you can't write!

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  6. Oh I know this author! I haven't read his books, but I saw him at a convention and he was very good and definitely memorable! Very good presentation for the kiddos.

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    1. Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes would be a great read out loud for your kids. It is so creative! It's MG but I think your daughter would really love it. I donated it to the elementary school and the librarian just loved it. I'm pretty sure she ordered a copy for the school. I am just now starting The Night Gardener.

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  7. I love how informative this is! It's my ultimate goal to be an author, but I have to tell my husband daily that I can't just quit my job if I succeed haha ;)

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    Replies
    1. Well, maybe one day you can, but until then it seems like Jonathan has some really sound advice to follow. Check out the whole tour. It has some great information!

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