Monday, January 30, 2012

Where to get a 1099 Misc form

Completely forgot to order 1099 forms from the IRS. Sorry Laura, your paperwork is going to be a bit late.

If you need a 1099 form, you have to order it directly from the IRS. Here is the link to the forms page on the IRS website. Do not print the example you'll find if you search for a 1099 on line. The form must be scannable, so sayeth the all-mighty IRS. If  you send them an un-scannable form they will send you a fine. It takes 7-10 days for delivery, but at least the forms are free. And here's a link to all the instructions you need for the various forms you may file.

Eventually I'll get the business side of Medusa's Muse more organized. For now, many apologies to my author for once again being late. But at least this year I'll use the right form.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Taxes, Tribal Blog, and Writing my Play

I am a member of Tribal Blogs, which is like BlogHer or Blog Frog, but cooler. Today I read a post by guest blogger Jenn Thorson about her experience self-publishing her novel. Really good advice. Here's a snippet and the link to read the rest:

The purpose of this post isn’t to go into the details of every step of the self-publishing process; there are plenty of great how-to’s on that already.
But I did want to mention, there are two areas of prep work that can be sticky if you’re not familiar with them in advance. One is formatting the book for print; the other is creating the e-book version.
In both cases, there are for-fee services available to help you accomplish this nicely. So don’t abandon the dream, if you feel overwhelmed.
Click HERE to read the entire article on Tribal Blogs.

I promised more info about taxes and writing, so here's a link to a blog post called How to Report Book Sales and Royalties. Be sure and scroll down to read the comments section for excellent questions and answers. Wine Press of Words looks like another good blog with tons of advice on publishing, marketing, and social media. 

If you're expecting a royalty statement, your publisher should send you a 1099 Misc before the end of January. You will report that income on Schedule C of your tax return (sorry to wait until the last minute, Laura. I'll give you your statement by Sunday). If you're a publisher, you only include the royalties you paid the author in 2011, not all royalties earned for the year. Typically, there are royalties due from the previous year that don't get paid until later, such as royalties earned in November and December. Your author doesn't pay taxes on those earned royalties, only on the royalties she was actually paid. 

And now for a word on writing...  I just finished revising Act 1 of my newest full length play and I am in love. I think about this play constantly, playing scenes over and over in my mind when I'm supposed to be concentrating on writing IEP goals for a student or planning lessons.  Is it safe to be so enamored with something you've written? Does it mean I've lost all perspective? Who cares! For now I'm just enjoying the thrill of writing something new and exciting. This play feels like the best thing I've ever written. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's Tax Time. Do you know where your receipts are?

The H and R Block office has reopened and there are signs all over town announcing deals on tax preparation. That can mean only one thing: it's tax time. The wonderful time of year when we all whimper at the pile of paperwork and forms demanding our immediate attention, realizing we've lost most of our receipts, and we have no idea if we got all of our 1099's and W2's from everyone we worked for. 

This is also an excellent time of year to crack open that expensive bottle of scotch Uncle Jo gave us for Christmas.

When I was writing What You Need to Know to Be a Pro, I decided not to include a chapter about taxes because the tax code changes all the time. There is plenty of info throughout the book about keeping track of expenses in preparation of tax season, but I skipped specific info about filing.  Instead, I research taxes every year and post my findings on this blog.

First, I found this video on ehow. It's more about keeping track of deductions rather than forms, but she explains receipts very well. The presenter in the video has a whole series about Freelance Writing.

Taxes & Being a Freelance Writer —powered by

And here are a few articles I found this morning.  Click the links to read the full article.  Taxes for Freelancers

Did you earn your first income from freelancing last year? If so, you're in for a new adventure: calculating your income and Social Security taxes as a self-employed person.
The basic principle of paying freelance taxes is simple: You add up your income, deduct your expenses, and transfer the net profit or loss to Line 12, "Business income (or loss)," on Form 1040.
Unfortunately, what's simple in principle can be complicated in practice. Here are a few guidelines to help you get started:

Tax Issues for Freelance Writers

Here are some tips and strategies for thinking about your taxes. There are special circumstances that apply to freelance writers and other independent professionals, so I will highlight what you need to know to prepare your taxes.

Being self-employed is quite possibly one of the best tax strategies available today. Unlike being an employee, freelancers are in full control of their financial and tax situation. But independence also comes at a cost. Independent contractors face higher taxes and more record keeping duties than employees.

I really like this next article, written by a freelance writer and business expert.

Blue Inkwell Taxes for the Freelance Writer 

Setting up shop as a freelance is easy enough. Unfortunately, most novices don’t think about the tax implications of what they’re doing until their first tax season rolls around. Then the questions pour out.

What do I have to claim?
How do I deal with 1099s?
What classifies as a deduction?
Am I supposed to pay quarterly taxes?

I'll keep researching the tax code for 2011 and post what I find here. If you have any helpful articles, post the link in comments.

And good luck with the receipt hunt. Check your car. I found lots of Medusa receipts in mine.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Say No To SOPA

Fresh Blood

There's nothing like fresh blood to get the creative juices flowing again. It feels like Medusa's Muse is off life support, because my dear friend Ibis said, "Yes." Yes, she would love to help me run Medusa's Muse and market our books. Yes, because working for a micro-press sounds "interesting" and she'd like the creative challenge. Yes, because she's willing to work for no pay but lots of perks, like free business cards and twice a year dinners paid by the Muse.

Last weekend I took my publishing team out to dinner at a new Mexican/Yucatan restaurant. We all had something to celebrate: one birthday, a new book in the works, a new member of the team, and one dearly departed who we honored with a toast. The four of us chatted over a delicious meal and several glasses of wine.  Jane, my diligent copy-editor, explained to Ibis about interacting with customers on line. Ibis, my new marketing assistant, nodded and asked questions while taking mental notes. I hope we didn't overwhelm her. Rick, my design director, tossed in a few ideas and mentioned how identifying the right book for the right group of people was key. I mostly sat and listened to the excitement at the table, throwing in my own ideas and thoughts, arguing with Jane over the term "framing the message," reassuring Ibis that I would help her and teach what needed to be done, and smiling at Rick, who really made the whole thing possible. Medusa may have been my dream and I may be the drive that holds the press together, but without his technical expertise, not a single book would have made it into the world.

Medusa's Muse feels like a brand new company, thanks to fresh blood and fresh energy. Thank you Ibis, for giving us your time and ideas. I think you're going to love book publishing.

The New and Updated Awesome Staff of Medusa's Muse, 2012

Terena Scott, Publisher/ Editor/Marketing Director

Jane Mackay, Co-Editor/Copy Editor

Rick Wismar, Book Designer and I.T Support

Ibis Klimicek de Villa, Marketing Assistant

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Time and Deadlines and Focus

Time is indeed the enemy. It speeds up then slows down, grows claws, whispers sweet nothings, makes promises, purrs you into sleep, then pulls the rug out from under you, laughing when you fall flat on your ass. No one has been able to control this wild animal; just when you think you've managed it, time learns a new trick and then runs away with the circus.

The only thing you can hope for is to somehow make friends with this beast, and accept the truth that you'll never really master it. Once you accept that, you can finally relax. So what if you didn't get your entire to-do list finished in one day? The list was probably too long anyway.

For the past three years, I've been on a deadline. School is nothing but deadlines: exams, papers, internships and classes. And you've got to get it all done in a set period of time, or you just keep paying more and more money.

I'm good with deadlines, but not so good at managing time.

I realized this as I was stressing out over getting all my lesson notes for my students caught up before the start of Winter break, while also finishing a book proposal, editing the new Medusa manuscript, and worrying that I hadn't read as many books as I said I would on Goodreads. My daughter was sick, my husband working all the time, the house a mess, and then I suddenly got the wild idea that I should clear out my entire house before the end of the year.

Self imposed deadlines to drive me frickin insane. I'm good at those.

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but this year I've decided to start. My goal for 2012 is to let go of the deadlines and make peace with time. There is never enough time in one day (or lifetime, I fear) to achieve everything I dream of. I'm one of those people who thrives on constant challenge. Maybe thrive isn't the right word. I compulsively hunt for the next challenge, even if it creates chaos and stress. This year, I told myself "No new challenges." I have plenty right here already.

The biggest one is Medusa's Muse. It has really struggled while I've been in school, but luckily the press is alive. How much longer will depend on how much time, energy and cash I can give it. We've signed a new book which I'm really excited about, so I need to get this publishing company back in top shape. And I need to breath more marketing energy into our previous books to see how much of a bump in sales we can achieve. I've asked a friend to join the team and help me with marketing; a new perspective will be great.

The other challenge I have, besides my new job of course, is my own writing. I have a new play to finish and another one I'd like to write. So I've made an early morning appointment with myself, just like if I was going to an exercise class. My daughter catches the bus at 7 AM. Once she's gone, and while still in my PJ's, I'll go into my room with my coffee and write for one hour. I've started doing that this week and it's amazing how much better I feel. I'm no longer wondering when the hell I'll get a chance to write; I know every morning from 7 to 8 I'll be blissfully working on my play. I know it's only an hour a day, but I'm amazed how productive I can be in that brief time.

Time is tricky, though. I'm like a little kid chasing dandelion fluff sometimes; I am constantly getting sidetracked. I get on the internet to check my mail, and two hours later I've learned about the whales in San Francisco Bay, a good recipe for persimmon pie, who the newest Disney Princess will be, how many of my Facebook friends like Tazo tea, what the next full moon is called, how to refinish an antique chair, and why it hasn't rained in California all winter. I checked one email message and then got distracted as soon as I clicked on a link my friend sent me.

I am no longer allowing myself to look at the internet before 8 AM.

Someday I'll learn time management. Maybe. I do pretty good actually, when I take into account everything I have to juggle on a daily basis. But the stress gets too high when I focus only on the to-do list and forget to enjoy my life. Forget to write. Forget to give my press the energy it needs to thrive.

Focus. That's what I need. So my New Year's resolution is to gain some focus and only give energy to the things already in my life. No more looking for shiny things over the next hill.

But wait... what's gleaming at the top of that tall mountain? I've never been there before. Maybe if I check out some maps and start hiking a little just to get close enough to see what that shiny thing might be...