Setup Your Author Business [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

As someone who is used to do vending on a regular basis, it’s been weird not doing shows this year. Whether I’m helping my sister at art shows or she’s helping me at author events, we’re usually on the road at least once a month, usually for a weekend. This year everything has been put on hold. Conventions are getting delayed until next year, big ones like DragonCon that have never been cancelled before. The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a hold on what we used to call normal, which is probably why it took me a while to make a new post in my vending as an author series.

This post is part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, a series where authors help authors through all aspects of their author career. I highly recommend clicking on the image above and going to check out all the other amazing blogs in this circle, after reading through mine of course. 😉

So let’s say you would like to apply to go to a craft show or to a convention and have a booth or a table to sell copies of your books. However you’ve never sold your books before in person, and you’re worried about what it takes. Here are a few pieces of advice I have for anyone starting out.

Start an LLC

I know this seems a daunting task for anyone starting out, but let me explain how this is a good idea and how it will protect you. Having an LLC will protect you should your business ever run into any trouble. Let’s say you have to declare bankruptcy for whatever reason, that could be a sickness, an injury, or even a pandemic. If you do business through your own name, then your home, car, or anything else could be used to pay for the dues you owe. Creating an LLC isn’t terribly expensive, I believe it’s $50 to start one (here in Georgia), and you renew it every year for $50.

You’ll want to have a unique name, so you can check their databases to make sure that the name you’re choosing isn’t in use already. You don’t want to step on anyone else’s toes with using a name that’s already taken. Do your research, but trust me that you’ll appreciate it in the long run. Once you have your LLC setup, you can look at writing off expenses on your taxes.

Keep Track of Expenses

Create an excel spreadsheet for you and anyone else that will be helping you keep track of income and expenses. I keep track of any books I order for my business that I’ll be taking to sell at shows. I keep track of tables and tablecloths I have to buy for displays, and any signs that I’ll be using at the event. Basically if I have an expense that’s for my author career, I write it off on my taxes. Then I hand it, along with all the receipts I’ve scanned in, to my tax preparer at the end of the fiscal year.

Oh and sending out books for your giveaways can also be written off on your expenses. If you’re sending in the United States, make sure you also use Media Mail for your packages to save money there too.

Track Your Mileage

This is something that is typically forgotten, but all the travel time on the road is something you can include in your expenses. Download a free app on your phone like Everlance, and you can export everything in a handy excel spreadsheet at the end of the year. The wear and tear on your car, the gas, both are included in the dollars calculated in the app. We usually let it run in the background with our navigator app running in the foreground when we’re traveling to a show. It’s a simple and useful way to track your traveling expenses.

Of course, make sure you also keep track of hotel expenses, airline costs, taxis, mailing books for conventions, etc. At the end of the fiscal year, all of these items can be written off for your small business.

Cloud Storage Will Save Your Life

Currently I have a cloud storage account with 1 TB of space that we use specifically for our business. It’s really helpful to be able to pull a receipt out in the parking lot of a store, snap a picture, and upload it to the folder on your cloud storage account. You get used to it over time. You’ll be grateful at the end of the year that you were organized from the start, and instead of having to scramble to collect everything, you’ll have files and a spreadsheet ready to hand off.

Oh, and the cost of the cloud storage account is something else you can write off for your expenses.

Paying Taxes at Shows

So here’s the tricky part. Every state in the United States has their own rules for selling at shows and for paying taxes. Some of them don’t require you to provide paperwork in advance, and some of them do. It really depends on where you’re selling. It’s up to you to do your research and make sure you’re paying the taxes after the show.

In Georgia they have an event tax form, so for one-off shows you send a check to the city that you were a vendor in. I don’t believe all states have this form, but check where you live to see what the rules are. This is a perfect option for us since we only do shows once a month if that (or we used to pre-COVID).

I know it’s scary setting up your LLC and declaring yourself a small business, but once you start seeing yourself as part of a business, it helps you to say yes to more events. It helps you to walk up to bookstores and request to do book signings. It helps when you see a tax form to know where you stand. Remember that for the first five years or so you will probably be losing money as a business, and that’s perfectly normal. Expect it to take some time before you start to see true earnings.

Remember it’s important to protect yourself and your work. Doing research even if you’re a year or two out from making the leap to starting an LLC will help. I hope this has been helpful! Feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts or questions!

An Interview, a Reading, and a Pre-Order!

This Thursday at 6 PM EST I’ll be interviewed by Beth Worsdell, who runs the Writers Rock interview series. She’s also a fellow author in an upcoming anthology titled Link by Link, due out from Filles Vertes Publishing December 1st of this year.

Make sure you RSVP at:

If you missed the reading I did from Broken last week as part of it being the Book of the Month for the Atlanta Chapter of the Horror Writers Association, you can find the full recording here:

Finally, I’m pleased to announce that The Seeking is available to Pre-Order! Pick up your copy today because it’ll be a fantastic read for this Halloween.

Join Us For A Spooky Reading Tonight

Tonight at 8 PM EST, join me and several other Horror Writers Association Atlanta Chapter members for the first Southern Nightmares Reading Series!

This will be a monthly event where members and one guest will be reading live from one of our books. Since this month Broken is the HWA Atlanta Chapter Book of the Month, I’ll be the first one reading! I’ve chosen a pretty spooky section tonight too!

I hope to see some of you there!

Telepathy is Hard [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

There’s been a sense of dissonance with my author groups that I’m part of lately. So many of my friends used to be pushing toward that next book, that next project, the next book festival, and getting excited about what was coming next. Now though so many of them are despondent when they look at their author career, and it really isn’t surprising why.

Some of us have been in quarantine for over three months even while others are able to go freely where they want. Many authors I’ve spoken with are in the same boat, either due to their own health issues or for loves ones. Then the protests began and the excessive use of force from police departments kept me glued to live feeds every evening near curfew to see what would happen, to keep an eye out for people on the ground. I had friends get involved in protests who had to run away from tear gas and rubber bullets. Still the violence hasn’t stopped. Just the other day a police officer killed a black man for falling asleep in his car here in Atlanta. There’s a constant sense of outrage and desperation right now that’s impossible to miss.

It’s difficult to write when your heart is bleeding for the world around you. It’s difficult to put aside your fears and worries when you see all the people risking their lives daily to be heard.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Stephen King called writing telepathy. After describing a scene, he writes the following in his book, On Writing.

This is what we’re looking at, and we all see it. I didn’t tell you. You didn’t ask me. I never opened my mouth and you never opened yours. We’re not even in the same year together, let alone the same room… except we are together. We are close. We’re having a meeting of the minds. […] We’ve engaged in an act of telepathy.

I think back to this concept regularly when I’m struggling with my writing. Creating a scene or a character for readers to identify and care for is an act of telepathy, and if an author has a hard time expressing the image they have in their head, or worse yet, if they have a hard time even picturing the scene they want to convey, then static comes across the line. Readers pick up on that static, whether they realize it or not. They feel the loss of focus or a character doing something that doesn’t make sense. They feel that discontinuity.

When the world feels like it’s on fire, authors can have a hard time channeling their minds into words. It’s understandable that there’s static. It’s understandable to get frustrated because it’s too hard to focus and the words won’t come out. It’s okay to feel like the characters aren’t behaving properly. It’s impossible to extract writing from the time and place that it was written. As creators of worlds, people, and locations, authors need to be aware of the static that gets in the way and allow it to exist. Sometimes the static is there for a reason.

Somehow over the past couple of months I found the mindset to write a book, Chosen, the last book in the Stolen series. I finished writing it a month into quarantine and finished editing it after the police violence at protests began dying down last week. I focused my outrage and pain into my novel, into my characters, and into scenes which ended up being eerily similar to the scenes I read about online. I had characters house protagonists despite risking their lives to do it. I had enemies hide behind their military troops. I had powerful characters admit that they were in too much pain to carry on in battle.

Basically I allowed the real world to infiltrate my book world in a way that expanded the world. I allowed some crossover, but only if it made sense. I channeled the emotions I felt from hearing these stories and from watching these horrors. Sometimes I realized the crossover was happening as I wrote the book, but other times I didn’t realize it until I was editing.

I know that the writing process is very different for everyone, and that we all have different ways of coping with the stress going on in the world, but I hope that hearing how I have come to terms with it helped. Chosen was meant to be written during this time and it is truly reflected in the storyline.

My advice is to listen to that static and see if it can push you in the right direction. See if it’s trying to encourage a change of direction or a change in a character. I hope you find a way to continue your craft despite the difficulties we are dealing with now and on the long road ahead.

A Bittersweet Ending

The last month or two have been crazy, both with the world in general and in my very busy writing corner. It’s led me to be a little behind on posting here, but I’m hoping to fix that! So first up some announcements.

Updates on Chosen

I have officially turned in my fully written and fully edited copy of Chosen, book 3 of the Stolen series! Somehow through everything that has been going on, between the COVID-19 outbreak and all the violence and tears of the last few weeks, I was able to focus and finish this book. It really is a culmination of years of work since I first started writing Stolen in 2013. That’s a good seven years of work to get here, and wow, what a ride!

Shaleigh has grown so much throughout the books, but so have the other characters too. Each one of them have grown into their unique selves and I’m really happy with that. I’m so excited to share the final chapter of this emotional trilogy with everyone.

However it’s also bittersweet. I’ve fallen in love with these characters and the world, and it’s going to be very difficult to let go of them. I’ve had these characters in my head for years, so it’s difficult to just let go of them. However I also have a very full plate of other books in my brain that also want attention.

In Progress

Speaking of… the next book I’ll be tackling is Colton Fen’s novel, currently titled Descent. It’s the first of the Colton Fen series and Night Feeders is going to be book 0.5. This book has had an ongoing facelift and I’m going in to work on it more with a long list of to-do items to tackle.

After that, I’ll be working on the long-awaited sequel to The She-Wolf of Kanta, which I plan to make a full-length book. I have a whole outline figured out and plan to write the entire book long-hand. I’ve already started writing on it, but it still has a long way to go to reach completion.

There are the projects I’m comfortable sharing now, but there are a bunch more I’ve hinted at during interviews or in chats that are on the horizon. So expect to hear more announcements and progress updates as I go.

The Seeking is now available to pre-order!

I’m thrilled to share that The Seeking is now available to pre-order on Amazon! This dark young adult horror novel has already had reviews come in on Goodreads, and I’m thrilled with the feedback so far! This book features weird creatures, a diverse cast of characters, and terrifying monsters.