The April issue of Writing Magazine is just hitting the shops now and contains the first article in a series the editor has commissioned me to write, about the business of writing. Many people, myself included, begin writing as a hobby: something to do at the end of a busy working day at the office to help us unwind.
However, even though it may be a hobby, if you’re looking to submit your work, whether it be to a competition or other paying market, you should remember that you are competing with the professionals, so you should take a professional attitude to your writing. This means dealing with it in a business-like way. I did read somewhere online that you shouldn’t call yourself a professional photographer unless you earned more than 50% of your income from your photography, but I disagree with that. In my opinion, professionalism is an attitude of mind, not a figure on a bank balance.
My first article looks at tax, because we’re approaching that time when the new tax year starts. If you’ve been successful and sold some of your writing, then you do need to tell the tax man so you can pay tax on this income. I know nobody likes paying tax, but it’s better to pay what you owe as soon as it becomes due than find yourself owing lots and being liable to a fine. And, actually, I like to think that paying tax on your writing earnings is a sign of success - it proves that people have paid for your words. For those who think professionalism is about money, well, if you’ve paid tax on your earnings from your words then you can’t get any more professional than that, can you?
Over the coming months this Business of Writing series will look at other aspects of writing, such as keeping track of records, contacts and interviews, understanding the rights we have available in our works, and how to remain productive.
When people dream about being a writer I’m sure the business side of things doesn’t play a big role in that dream. (Does anybody dream about admin?) But a business-like attitude can help you to maximise your writing opportunities. And opportunities are the stepping stones to further success.