Write On 2017! – Money, Money

WARNING: Today’s topic in our Write On 2017! series is NOT sexy. My apologies in advance. But here’s a cute weimaraner puppy for your viewing pleasure.

In this series we’re exploring ways to keep you on course and on fire about your writing, stuff like missions and visions and goals that fuel our writerly souls. Today is all about spreadsheets.

If you’re serious about the craft and business of writing, you need to invest in yourself and your products. And if you’re earning revenue, you must keep track of earnings. Uncle Sam agrees. I am not an accountant or tax professional, and I am not offering any financial or tax advice. My goal is to encourage you to be aware of your expenses and revenue streams, even if you are just starting out. Why? Money motivates. 🙂

Your #1 Assignment: Identify expenses for 2017.

On a spreadsheet or good ol’ yellow legal pad, record anticipated expenses. At year’s end, record actual expenses. Expenses can include: professional associations; education; craft books and comps; office supplies and equipment; book services such as editing, formatting, etc.; postage; bank fees; publicity; travel and lodging; networking functions; self-employment taxes; etc.

The benefits: Setting aside money for craft books or writing workshops will encourage you to work on your craft. Going to conferences will expose you to industry professionals such as agents, editors, cover artists, etc. Your tax adviser can also talk to you about deductions. Finally, putting figures down on paper is a statement of serious intent. Yay, you!

Your #2 Assignment: Identify income for 2017.

On that same spreadsheet, identify potential revenue streams such as royalties, advances, speaking honorariums, freelance work, etc. As money comes in, record it.

The benefits: You might identify some unexpected revenue streams. In addition, it’s cause to celebrate. Millions of people talk about “writing a book”, a tiny percentage of those actually do it, and a minuscule number of that subset make any money off their writing. This is a tough biz, my friends, and I applaud all of you who have earned money from it!

While budgeting isn’t too sexy, finding ways to empower our writing is. In the comment section below, tell us about one great investment you’ve made in your writing career. Might be a craft book, research trip, conference, or whiz-bang website. Write on!

This is Part 6 of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s series, Write On 2017! A Writer’s Guide to Prioritizing, Goal Setting and Time Management. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

Shelley Coriell is an award-winning author of mysteries, romantic thrillers, and novels for teens. Her debut thriller was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the Year, and her other novels have been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Best Paperback Original of the Year from the International Thriller Writers, and a Kirkus Recommended Read. A former magazine editor and restaurant reviewer, Shelley lives in Arizona with her family and the world’s neediest rescue weimaraner. You can find her at and Twittering @ShelleyCoriell.

13 responses to “Write On 2017! – Money, Money”

  1. Ah, spreadsheets. I love them and I love to analysis the data I input. And I do agree, it’s important as a business owner to keep accurate records to back up the deductions you take, and to analysis where you’re making money and where you’re spending it. I do however record as I incur expenses. It makes life much easier at years end.

    My deduction spreadsheet has at least 15 columns including advertising expenses and a comment section recording results from ads.

    I also have a second spreadsheet where I record my royalties broken down by book. I can compare the two sheets to see where and promo efforts had good results. I can also see when my incurred costs for a novel’s production has been covered. As an indie author it is very important to analysis your efforts. You can’t keep throwing dollars at ads that have little or no return.

    As far as where I think I’ve spent my money wisely in order to help my craft, I’ve taken on-line Master Courses, and last year I went to two writers retreats where I learned from, plotted with, and wrote thousands of words alongside some very talented women. I hope to attend a few this year too. I also got to see parts of the country that I had never visited before, so it was a win win deal.

    Great post, Shelly!

  2. Great reminder at the beginning of the year! Thanks!
    Investment – I just invested in a nice new laptop. It’s pretty crucial for the job : )
    I’m also looking for some reader events to try to attend. And I’m planning to do some FB ads with my next book coming out. : )

  3. jbrayweber says:

    I keep a spreadsheet, but I don’t break down income by book. I simply can’t find the time to go that far. However, it really opens my eyes to how much I spent and where I might cut back. I don’t come anywhere near breaking even on my books alone. But I make a profit if I factor in my freelance editing.

    I don’t have any single great investment to share. I just take money earned and put it back into my career. Guess you could say that is my investment.

    Wonderful post, Shelley!


    • I agree that micro-managing finances can be a major time suck. I met with a CPA who once told me many creative types he worked with kept receipts in shoe box and at tax time, handed him the shoe box. I’m not that loosey-goosey, but I do rely on a finance guy to make sure everything is in tip-top shape. 🙂

  4. My best investment was probably the book, SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder. It was the first craft book I read rooted in screenwriting, and everything about it made so much sense to me. More important, it got me deeper into story and made me more excited about my stories. From there I went on to study novel writing through a screenwriting lens with the likes of Michael Hauge. Love THE CAT!

  5. Well, this is certainly timely! 🙂 I was born with the cheap gene and it’s always hard to pull the trigger on expenses, but I need to remind myself that I’m investing in my career. Right now I’m sponsoring a boardroom at the Lori Foster RAGT and getting ready to register for the RWA National Conference in Orlando. And I know I’ll be incredibly excited for both events as soon as the part where I pay is behind me! 😀

    • Yay, you, Viv! I’ve heard from a number of writers that the Lori Foster event is well worth the investment, in part because it’s smaller and more intimate than many author/reader events. Have fun!

  6. Tamara Hogan says:

    Speaking of investments, my hard drive crashed last week, just as I was preparing to click ‘publish’ at Amazon. 🙁 So I’m hard at work, configuring a speedy new laptop. I’m almost up and running again, but my next challenge? Reinstalling Scrivener, then restoring my composed books from backup. {{shudder}} The good news? I have a current backup. The bad news? I have Scrivener files all over my hard drive. Which ones are the latest? I need to do some research before I start.

    Last year’s big career investment was non-financial: to regain publication rights back for my first two books. To achieve that goal, per-book sales had to fall below a certain sales threshold, so to hasten matters along I didn’t promote existing work, nor did I publish new work. Needless to say, the ol’ checkbook took a hit. To help fill the gap, I’m teaching, and I’m also picking up some editing work here and there.

    No conferences for me this year, but I have high hopes for 2018!

  7. Your “non investment” is a fascinating but excellent example of how expenditures, or lack thereof in this case, can significantly impact a writing career. What a great non-use of your funds! And good thoughts as you get that computer whipped into shape!

  8. My best investment was joining RWA over ten years ago. I remember agonizing over the membership fee, wondering if it was worth it, but it led to so many things: education, contests, conferences, supportive like-minded writers and best of all, the Rubies.Best investment ever, back then!

  9. […] This is Part 7 of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s series, Write On 2017! A Writer’s Guide to Prioritizing, Goal Setting and Time Management. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6. […]


Subscribe to the Blog

The Latest Comments

  • Darynda Jones: Love this, April! I could see this for any age. Your protagonist could be a child haunted by a...
  • Darynda Jones: Oooooo, this would make a great opening, Cynthia! Great job!
  • Darynda Jones: YES! Love it, Lydia! Creepy and dark. Two of my favorite things, and if that’s wrong, I...
  • Darynda Jones: BAM! There you go. Fantastic, Diane! Super creepy.
  • Darynda Jones: Nice, Joyce!!! You included scent. It’s something I’m always overlooking. Great job!