Have you ever written a book review?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

HE + RA = S, or, What Most Authors Overlook


We hear exchanges like this often:

SB: "How did the speaking/signing event go?"

AUTHOR: "Horrible. There were only 15 people, there and I sold four books!"

Authors tend to count immediate book sales. That is understandable. It is also short-sighted and often dispiriting.

Take that exchange above and plug in any number of people in attendance, and ZERO for book sales, and the event (if you have a publisher who understands marketing) was a success. Why?

Because the event itself (like most single battles of any long war, for example) are irrelevant to the long-term outcome. The goal is sell books, and brand the author.

HE + RA = S. (Stay with me here.)

A speaking engagement, battlefield tour, book signing, etc. is but the pebble you throw into a pond. I don't care about the pebble. I care about the ripple.

The ripple is the "volume" of movement you can create by tossing the pebble into the water. Think of how much more ground a ripple covers compared to the small stone itself.

In our case, it is the newspaper article, media interview, blog post, Facebook post, tweet, etc. that only came about because there was a hard event to announce/promote.

You can only tell folks so many times, "Hey! Here is a new book on X!" before people stop paying attention.

But each book event is in itself newsworthy. Each post, tweet, article, etc. tied to a book, its event, and its author creates something I call "repetitive awareness." (I have no idea if that is already a phrase, but I just thought it up and I like it.)

And you know what I mean. Have you ever bought a book? Or a refrigerator? Or a car? Have you ever paid attention to your purchasing habits? Most of us see an ad and skip over. We see it again, and do not act. We see it a third time, and find ourselves in a position (mentally, financially, emotionally) to want to act, and then we do. Why? We have been reminded. Over and over. And we take action.

The action can be attending the author event itself, OR buying the book online, from a store, or from us, and/or referring it to a friend. And what do you do when you get a new book? You tell others in a wide variety of ways, right? 

HE (hard events) + RA (repetitive awareness) = Success (book sales, branding of author).

It not just the bodies that show up an an event--it is who learns of the event. 

From now on, when your publicist or publishing company wants to book you for an event, realize it does not matter whether you get 5 people or 50, sell zero books or 25. 

It's all about the  . . . .ripple. 


Monday, August 15, 2016

How Many Authors Realize They Qualify as a Business?

Color me shocked. 

A few months ago I had a conversation with an author that went something like this:

ME: I appreciate you driving to the Visitor Center to sign books. Make sure you keep track of that mileage and gas expense, and so forth.

AUTHOR: What do you mean?

ME: What do you mean, what do I mean?

AUTHOR: Why would I keep track of that?

ME: So you can write it off.

AUTHOR: I can write that off?

ME: You do file a Schedule C, right?

AUTHOR: What's a Schedule C?

That sound he heard next was my head hitting the desk.

ME: We have to talk....

And then we did.

If you are an author, you should talk to your CPA (I am not a CPA, I don't play one on TV or on stage, and I am not giving firm, actionable advice--but your CPA can and will). Tell him what you are doing, and ask him how to form a DBA (Doing Business as), or if worthwhile given your situation, an LLC or some other entity...and take advantage of the tax loopholes the multi-millionaire crooked lobbyists have been bribing your crooked politicians for decades to implement.

For example, here are some of the things that, in most circumstances, you can write off as legitimate expenses:

1. Home office
2. A portion of your utilities
3. Electronic equipment (computer, cell phone, etc.)
4. Paper, ink, pens, staples, tape, and other office supplies
5. Dog food (okay, maybe not this one)
6. Lunches / dinners (travel)
7. Gas and/or mileage
8. Storage costs
9. Postage
10. Internet costs
11. Thank You gifts for your favorite publisher (Yes, I actually get these, and YES, they are a tax-write off in most instances. And yes, I like good cigars and good red Zinfandel).

And that list? It's not complete.

Now, let's say you earn $1,000 a year in royalties. You are a part time author, you have a full-time other job or are retired, etc. and you do this for fun. I mean really, who writes for the money?

Let's say in the year you got that stack of Benjamins you did a lot of research, some travel, had to buy a new printer, etc. Maybe your expenses are $800.00. That means you would only pay tax on $200.00. OR if your expenses are higher than royalties, you might actually have a legitimate LOSS to set off against other gains, or use as your CPA advises.

Once I explained this to an author, I could "see" almost as much as I could "feel" his shaking head in his hands wondering just how much money he had left on the table over the years.


1. Call your CPA immediately and schedule an appointment;

2, Take in whatever he asks for, including a copy of your published books (or if new, your most recent manuscript) to prove what you are doing, tangibly so.

3. Find out what you can write up, what business form to create (DBAs do not require formal corporate filing; you use your SSN. For example, Savas Beatie LLC is a formal corporate entity; Theodore P. Savas is an author, DBA as Savas Publishing Company.

This is easy, and you will quickly find out how much money you can save. There might also be a way to amend your previous returns to include expenses from prior years you failed to claim. Ask your CPA and find out what is right for you.

Go for it.