This week's topic at the SFF Seven is about how we manage our author business. This can get detailed, so I'll cover the basic organizational methods I use.
One thing I notice when chatting with newer authors is that many don't grasp that they are a small business. An entirely new way of thinking about yourself as an author and a brand AND the way you present and sell your product (your books) has to happen, and the methods used are often very different from writer to writer. Because everyone is going to run their business in their own way. It can help to get some tips, though, so you can see what works best for you.
For me, being an author requires days filled with nothing but accounting, mailing items to readers/influencers/etc, sending and replying to emails, and managing my online social presence and Etsy store, among many other things that don't equate to writing words. Thankfully, I've been in the writing world for over a decade and I've sat in on dozens of workshops and panels where these things have been discussed. So prior to this year when my publishing career truly began, I at least had an idea of what to expect, even if the reality hit way harder than I ever dreamed.
If you follow me at all, you know I'm a planner. I'm not sure how anyone can have a business without some sort of business plan and outlook, as well as proper record keeping. Here's a list of some of the things I do to keep track of everything:
1) I created a 5 year plan and broke it down into yearly and quarterly goals that can be adjusted as needed.
2) I keep a Goal spreadsheet and update it every month-end and quarter. These goals include all my relevant social media numbers (Insta, TikTok, FB group, FB page, Bookbub), Goodreads review count, Goodreads adds, Amazon review numbers, newsletter count, money earned, books sold, and total Etsy sales. I can see the growth for the past 8 months at a glance. It's very informative, motivating, and keeps me focused on where I need to put a little more attention in order to meet my goals.
3) I keep Expense spreadsheets. This part became super intense really fast. I would've had an utter disaster on my hands come tax time had I not started keeping a record of all the expenses of my business. This includes everything from office supplies to character art to Etsy store supplies to necessary subscriptions/memberships and shipping costs. There's so much to track, so I have sheets for several things. I did an event recently and I put all my expenses in a spreadsheet labeled for that particular event. Next year, when I have more than one event, I'll create an Event Sheet. It would probably terrify most people to see the amount of spreadsheets I keep, but all I have to do at tax time is send my CPA my info and my taxes get done. The more organized I am on the front end, the easier things are on the back end.
4) I keep an Income-Earned spreadsheet. I do this by quarters that are broken into individual months since I get paid by my publisher quarterly. However, I have Etsy income as well as editing income, so those totals go in their respective months every month-end.
5) I use Expensify to store receipts. I cannot do clutter, so I don't keep paper receipts.
6) I keep digital and printed copies of all contracts in proper folders.
7) I'm working on adding my author business info into my will and our family trust.
This is just an overview of things that I can think of off the top of my head. I hope, if you're looking for info on what to do as a new writer, that this helps. This side of the author life can be overwhelming, so my best advice, as always, is to get organized.