Taxes and the business of a writing career

It’s early in the year, but the financial squeeze exerted by holiday gift buying and spring travel planning is enough to make anybody cry. February is when I start to avoid finalizing the previous year’s cash flow statement, because it might be a confidence killer. The numbers tended to look better when I was a freelance writer and editor, but I get more joy out of my job as an agent. It’s a reasonable trade-off. Representing writers is work I feel I can master. My author clients have much more complex challenges.


I’m always looking for reliable sources of career advice to share with my clients. Late last year, I noticed the new blog of Gary A. Hensley, whose expert advice on accounting practices, auditing, and income taxation is tailored for freelance writers. Taxsolutionsforwriters—the name of Hensley’s blog says it all. I’m glad that I’ll be able to link to his posts to help answer some of my clients’ basic questions about U.S. income taxes.

But… let me say that there’s nothing comparable to the ecstasy of sorting out international tax treaties.

Years ago, I hired my accountant to prepare my income tax returns. Eliminating those excruciating annual headaches was one of the smartest business decisions I ever made. However, I still need to know precisely which forms and data to give my accountant. I’m still insanely disciplined about maintaining records and receipts. A freelance writer needs the same self-discipline when it comes to the business of a successful writing career. It’s a mark of professionalism.

On a tangent

Wikipedia cites several ways in which businesses can beef up their cash flow. Among them: “Wait for the product to be proven by a start-up lab; then buy the lab.” Sounds like established trade book publishers waiting for self-published titles to start selling exceptionally well before acquiring the rights in them.

Point me to Tycoonsolutionsforagents when you find it, OK?

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