Thursday, May 03, 2007

Muse vs. Gravity

I am obsessively reading everything I can find about starting a small press and publishing in general. I began with Dan Poynter's book, "The Self Publishing Manual," moved on to "How to Start and Run and Small Book Publishing Company," bought "The Writers Legal Guide" and "Business and Legal Forms for Authors and Publishers," and have scanned "Book Design and Production," by Pete Masterson. Now I'm reading, "Publishing for Profit," by Thomas Woll. Plus I read blogs and websites and am subscribed to the Publish L list serve. From all these hours of research, I have discovered something extremely important; I know absolutely nothing about running a small business. This is important because that's what Medusa's Muse is. A business.

I am the owner of a small business. Yes, a creative, book oriented, dream filled business, but a business non the less, which means I need to learn about tax laws, licensing, book keeping and budgeting. If I don't understand basic business practices, Medusa won't survive, and I don't care how many books I print or publish. Medusa must live in the real world and the real world is governed by tax laws.

My muse hates all this mundane chatter and refuses to help me with this part of building the press. When I brought home "Small Business Kit for Dummies," complete with CD rom of necessary forms, she yawned and said, "I'll be outside."

I glared at her. "This press thing was your idea, remember."

"Yes. I know. All the good ideas are mine."

"Then you're also responsible for helping me with this part too."

She smiled a slow, crooked smile. "I don't think so."

"Why not?" I hate it when I whine.

"Because my dear, business laws are the construct of humans and we both know I'm not human. Therefor, I don't have to worry about that part." She tapped the over sized book in my arms. "When you're done with this, let me know. I'm getting hungry for something creative."

"You know, it's exactly this reason most artists live in abject poverty. If their muses stuck around to help with the finances, they could pay their electric bill."

"Muses don't need electricity," she called as she pulled off her blouse before walking outside.

I yelled, "Let's hear you say that when I can't turn on my lap-top."

The door shut softly behind her.

In my other life, I write grants. Therefore I understand just how important it is to have enough funding to support a great idea. As much as I dislike budgeting and paperwork, I know without a good business plan, there is no Medusa's Muse. It's like trying to live on Earth without gravity. I see too many incredibly talented artists falter because they believe solid business planning is unworthy of their time and energy. I refuse to be a victim of economics.

While studying my business book, I felt something brush against my ankle. Looking up at me was a green gilded snake. I picked it up and set it on my shoulder where it snuggled close against my collar bone, reading the book with me. My muse hasn't completely abandoned me after all.


Entandem said...

Yes, it's sad that creativity doesn't simply get paid for its own sake!

I can help with some business basics, if you want. That's what old friends are for. It's what I've done for (paid) living for 20 years.

You'll have to cover the rest...


Anonymous said...

I feel for you, Terena. I recently attended a short(3hr.) seminar on how to correctly collect and pay sales tax, as well as how to fill out my sales tax return. Joy!


Mother of Chaos said...

Aw, c'mon. Business can be fun and creative! The people who wrote the tax code, for example, are extremely well known in the S&M circuit...

Ahem. TAG!