Natalie Butlin is our guest writer this week and she is dealing with a much-neglected topic – money tips for published and unpublished writers. Natalie is a freelance writer and until recently worked with Christine Green Author’s Agents.
I’ve been doing some personal financial sorting and it got me thinking about one of the biggest hurdles most new writers face: money! What you may not know is, even if you aren’t published, you could ease your finances a bit by talking to the taxman.
So often, people squeeze in writing around full-time jobs, or struggle to keep their heads above water on a part-time wage. Whatever your situation, a little more money in your pocket is likely to free up time and head-space to concentrate on thrashing out that first draft or polishing it for submission.
I have a wonderful accountant and claim back tax for all kinds of things I buy for my writing. I can do this because, while I write because I love it, it’s also a business. But it’s not only published authors who can present their writing costs as business expenses to HMRC. Here is an article about all of the things for which you could be claiming back tax.
From reading this, I have deduced you could potentially claim back the tax on one of Maggie’s wonderful courses, or suggest it to your boss as a tax-free benefit. What a good idea! Every job requires writing skills, doesn’t it?
I think one problem many new writers face is not being able to take themselves seriously. Because of this, they don’t make time to write, don’t prioritise it, and even feel guilty when picking up a pen or sitting at a computer. This doesn’t help you make any progress with your writing. Keeping a record of the costs involved in writing can help you to take it more seriously and approach it as any other job. Start keeping a file of receipts for anything you spend which you need or directly influences your writing – equipment, books, research, courses. As the article explains, you can only claim back for expenses if you intend your writing to be a source of income, and think it’s possible.
A Word of Caution
Perhaps if you saw your writing as a business, you might even become more disciplined. However, you don’t want to forget why you love writing, and should be wary of any epiphanies involving quitting your job, or writing what you think will make the most money. There’s never any guarantee of making money from your writing, and I believe you must write what you want to write – otherwise it usually doesn’t work. With this in mind, it is still always important to remember you are writing for an audience. Always ask yourself if it’s truly something you’d enjoy, even if it were written by someone else; who would be your perfect reader; and what makes each page gripping.
Some writers aren’t interested in writing for an audience. They write for pure personal enjoyment, and the idea of selling their work dirties the whole concept. But if being published or self-publishing is an ambition, you should take it seriously, and do what you can to support yourself in pursuit of this goal.