Thinking About Taxes

Thinking about Taxes, by Renea Winchester

Accurate Reporting of Income and Expenses are Important

Most of us are familiar with the term, “music business.” The same applies for the “writing business.”

Those who have opted to self-publish because they want to control money generated from sales should understand that this control comes with tremendous responsibility.


DISCLAIMER: This blog entry is NOT meant to replace professional tax advice. If you are accepting payments in any form from books sold at events, signings, speaking engagements you should seek the counsel of a tax professional.

Sales Tax: In most states, authors should collect sales tax on books sold at events. In many states, sales tax rates vary depending on the county in which you are doing business, meaning an author who works in one county may pay a different rate than her friend who lives (and works) two counties away. Visit the Department of Revenue in your home state for specific information. Please know that in Georgia you must submit a sales tax form even in months with zero sales. Failure to do so will result in hefty fines (and daily interest).

Money: How do you handle payments? Do you need a business account or FEIN #? Visit for more information. If you created a LLC, or incorporated a business, the bank will require an FEIN number in order to process payments.

Expenses: The IRS allows the deduction of many expenses incurred during the course of operating your business. Maintaining a flawless record-keeping system is crucial. Save all receipts, document mileage (meaning the actual odometer readings and the physical address of the event). Be prepared to show these receipts and validate them with a personal calendar.

Time: Expect to spend several hours each quarter logging receipts into a spreadsheet. If the thought of this is overwhelming, schedule an appointment with a Certified Public Accountant. Many provide an initial consultation at no charge. One thing is certain, the responsibility of reporting income and documenting expenses falls on you.

Renea Winchester is an award-winning author of Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. Visit her at

The Television Interview

It’s remarkable, how life sometimes gives you what you want but in an indirect manner. James Taylor is host to a widely popular show, Writers in Focus. Just to know this man fills my heart with joy. Truly, we are life-long friends even though we have just-met.

James Taylor and Renea Winchester

Going boldly forward I asked a friend of a friend of another friend how to get on the show realizing that the odds were both slim and none. Settling instead as a guest at one of the classes he teaches, I was shocked when he contacted me and explained that he had punted the idea of me leading a workshop. Instead he thought my book needed a “larger audience,” and asked if I could appear on his program.

Insert a very happy dance.

Followed by (gulp) serious nervousness.

This would be my first television interview and one never wants to leave a bad impression, especially when there isn’t a “do-over” opportunity.

The good thing about spontaneous interviews is that nothing stands between you and the host. There isn’t much preparation time, just James and Renea chatting around a table with a couple television cameras in the background. I find this comforting as the more I think about an interview, the more nervous I become. While the incredibly talented studio crew (thanks guys) pinned the mic on Mr. Taylor he confided that he “gets a bit nervous.”

Surely not. He was just saying that to make me feel comfortable. It worked. He is a wonderful host. Truly,  I am honored to call him friend.

Feel free to follow this link to the interview. And again, a heartfelt thanks to the readers who have reached out to me since the segment aired, and to “The”  James Taylor, who extended his hand in friendship, “thank you.”

Today, my guest, Anju Gattani writes about Mentors

In the writing world the majority of us would grin at the word ‘mentors’.  Why?  Because it is precisely this, just a word.  It is a wish, a blessing, for any writer, if a professional or a published author is willing to look at your manuscript and lead you by the hand.  Now if you had to pay someone would you consider this mentoring?  I’m guessing it would probably fit the phrase ‘editorial services’. 

Whenever I bring this up at writers’ meetings, conferences and during general conversations, professional writers are shocked when I tell them that I’ve had (and still have) 2 writing mentors: New York Times Bestselling author, Haywood Smith and USA Today Bestselling author, Jade Lee.  They continue to grow even more shocked when I tell them these professional and extremely talented women have never asked for anything in return and to date, are just a phone call away. 

How did this come about?   Through writers’ conferences, attending chapter meetings and sharing the passion of my project with others.  I didn’t just share my work and have a flurry of authors take me under their wing.  I asked for help, connected with these 2 women (and other bestselling authors after) and followed their lead without question.  This unspoken trust sparked a mentor-student relationship where understanding and the willingness to learn lay the foundation.  I jumped in with a thick skin (the thickest possible) ready to embrace every criticism and red-pen remark. 

I learned and grew as a writer and these women soon became my friends.  They didn’t wave a magic wand and find me an agent or a publisher—that was the next stage in my journey—but they gave me the confidence to go on and believe in myself.  And I did, because they did.  Now I’m a published author myself; but I still remember how they taught me to walk, tread on the fine professional line and be a better writer than I was before. 

So when I shared their books and my gratitude at my very first author talk in January 2012 I wanted the world to know that DUTY AND DESIRE wasn’t just a product of perseverance and persistence.  It was a book, like many others, with a front and back cover, and a story.  And another story lying hidden behind the pages… of two professionals who had believed in it long before the world did. 

The choice to mentor is totally yours.  How deeply you’re willing to get involved in another’s project is your choice too because as a mentor you’re offering the aspiring writer something beyond the written word.  You are offering trust, truth and a belief… perhaps… that you are also just a phone call away.   

Learn more about Anju Gattani at

Questions from Workshop Participants

The most common question I receive from workshop participants is, “How do I get my book in bookstores?”

While ultimately the decision to shelve your book depends on the owner, here is a simple tip that worked for me.

Send readers to their store.

If you want a bookseller to consider your book, they must know they can sell it. (Step One: Write a perfect-error free book about interesting subject matter). 

An aside: I once visited a pitch session with an agent. A pitch session is where you meet an agent and tell them about your book. If they like your “sales pitch,” they request a copy of your manuscript. Anyway, the woman beside me was pitching her book which featured a talking racoon. After the author described her book as the next Art of Racing in the Rain, the agent kindly explained she wasn’t interested and couldn’t sell the story concept.

“So, can I send you the manuscript?” the author asked.

Dear ones, you will not be like that lady. There is a thin line between assertiveness and career-ending pushy behavior.

All of the booksellers I know have owned their store for years (read decades); this means they knows what their customers read. Take a moment to consider this chart from Publishers Weekly:

Understanding how readers find books is crucial for author's attempting to reaching them.

While I am on that subject let me ask this question, “do you spend money in the store you have approached?” Do you have a relationship with the owner?

Good. Keep shopping at the store.

People also  try a variety of methods to trick booksellers into stocking their books. A common technique is having a friend pose as publicist or agent. This is the BIGGEST mistake an author could ever make. For those who have yet to read my book, you will soon learn that everyone knows everyone in this business. Pretty-pretty please with sugary sprinkles on top,  do not do this to yourself. Do not take your book  into the store, (or have your momma, g-ma, preacher, sister, brother or another obscure relative shove self-published pages under the owner’s nose) and then proceed to tell them you have written the best book since the Bible. Certainly, do not call a bookstore and tell them I sent you. Lawhavemercy.

This is exactly the behavior that will ruin your career, before you even have a career.

You are a professional. You will research and understand how to approach a bookseller before actually doing it. Understand that not every store will stock your book. Not every store stocked my first book. This is the nature of the business. Once you read Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author you will realize the value of their shelf space and the pressure to turn books around quickly.

Dear ones, there is no “fast track” in the writing world. You  must earn your place on the shelves of bookstores with time, patience and a following of readers who adore that perfectly flawless book you have written. Some books never get into the bookstore. They still sell well. They still have a following of readers. Many factors determine the success of your book; professionalism is one of them.

Hope to see you soon.


Renea Winchester