When Self Publishing Becomes Self Employment

You know, I’m always looking for ways to improve my social media presence and free up my time. It’s easy for me to concentrate on that element of my writing, because I don’t have a published product out there. I don’t have to think about how to market my book – yet – but I will at some point. In the back of my mind, while I’m writing and editing and posting and tweeting, I have to remember the end goal: to publish my first novel and to sell copies of that novel.

I found an article from Jeff Bennington from the Writing Bomb, who breaks down what writers need to be thinking about besides writing and editing and posting and tweeting. That’s only part of it. Yes, its incredibly important to build a presence on social media. After all, that’s where we plan to promote/market our books. But what happens after we’ve established ourselves on Twitter or Facebook or Google Plus? Does the work stop there? No.


When I began my submission process in 2010, one thing I started doing was keeping receipts for everything related to my book. Even though I’m not making any money from it, my writing is a private business and I should be able to claim tax back on legitimate business expenses. I don’t know what those expenses might be yet but, I knew I had to start doing it.

I’m talking about receipts for submissions I sent in the post, paper I bought to print off those submissions, pens I’ve used to write postal addresses on the envelopes, the envelopes themselves, editing work I had done etc. I could also include electricity and heating as a legitimate expense if thats what I’m using in the evening to write my book. I could also claim my laptop as a legitimate expense.


Another thing I wanted to develop was a business/marketing plan. I haven’t done anything on that yet, but I know its crazy of me to expect any future work I produce to promote itself. While writing a plan can be time consuming at the start, I expect my plan to give me a focus and designate my precious time to the areas where I have the best chance of selling my work.

To do that, I’ll need to work out where I’m most influential. There are great websites out there to help you measure your effectiveness. For Twitter I have been using Klout to measure my reach.

You might find it hard to motivate yourself to think about marketing and finances, but if you’re passionate about writing, this should be a natural extension of your work. After all, you are marketing your own work and what’s more exciting than that? I’ve seen many writers on twitter marketing their latest work and guess what? There’s a direct correlation between book sales and their marketing efforts.

So what do we writers need to think about? While some of Jeff’s specific financial advice might be more relevant to a US audience – he talks about the IRS – there is plenty in there for the rest of us to think about.

For relevant Irish tax information, you can check out Revenue.ie

There’s also a wonderful section there about  Artists Exemption

  • Keep track of your expenses including everything from shipping receipts, paperclips, marketing expenses, production costs and other costs of doing business. All of these expenses will reduce your taxable income, so try not to miss anything. Be diligent in your records and you’ll know for sure if you’re making money… or not.
  • As a business owner, you have to market your book(s). You might get lucky and start selling as soon as you upload your book, but that’s not likely. Selling anything requires marketing. You have to announce the publication of your work and that will take cash, so expect to spend something even if you are on a low budget. There are several ways to market your book for free but advertising in places like Kindle Nation, Night Owl Reviews, Book Buzzer and Goodreads will cost you money. Being prepared will make the pill go down easier. Expenses are inevitable. If you are new to publishing, and you haven’t made your money back after initial expenses, the good news is you’ll show a loss for 2011 and you’ll get some of that money back.
  • You’ll want to plan a budget for 2012.  Include expenses for the works you plan to publish in 2012 even if you won’t publish until later in the year. This way you can budget your future marketing and production expenses (editing, cover art, etc).

The Writing Bomb: Turning Self-Publishing Into Self-Employed.