Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Business of Writing

Most of us write for the love of writing. Yet, for many, in order to continue doing what we love, we must get compensation for our work. The business of writing is just that–a business. As in most business enterprises, record keeping is a vital part of the procedure of maintaining our profession and measuring progress.

For me, the most efficient method of keeping track of article submissions is to have a table listing all my submissions and subsequent activities. I list the name of the article, the publisher, the status (submitted, published, paid, follow-up, rejected) and dates of activities. I place an asterisk beside the article name until all activity is concluded.

At the first of each month I do a search for the asterisk to learn the status of article activity and take the appropriate action. I haven't had many problems with delinquent payment, but occasionally I've sent a payment reminder letter, or perhaps an invoice listing the article, when it was published, and the amount due. I wait for at least two months after publication before sending a payment reminder. Using a simple spreadsheet or table shows me where I need to take action.

Of course, the best scenario is when I’m paid in advance for my work. But the above steps keep me ahead of the game and help me to keep track.

Persistence and good record keeping–for me these practices contribute to my success rate in getting articles published and getting paid to write them.


joyce4books said...

Mary -- Your post has encouraged me to be more diligent in my record keeping. I keep thinking that I don't need yet another database, but this one is important. I'm on it!
Thanks -- Joyce

Gwyn Ramsey said...

Mary, great article and extremely helpful. Thanks for the information.

Gwyn Ramsey

Eunice Boeve said...

Thanks Mary for the reminder that I'm not doing a very good job of record keeping. Your method sounds good. I don't write many articles, but am thinking about writing and submitting in between working on my next novel, a sequel to Ride a Shadowed Trail. If I do, I need to organize my writing life better. Eunice

Anonymous said...

Good advice, Mary. I think a person always thinks she will remember these things, but I know from experience, I don't!

Captivatex said...

Nice post, Mary. I passed it on to our authors!

Jim Brown

unwriter said...

Good points. I will be doing just this when I start selling.

Happy Hoeing, Jon said...

Mary: Thanks again for more than encouragement...also the tools to make dreams come true. Some day I would like to learn how to price my stuff!
Happy Hoeing,
Jon Stevens

Harley L. Sachs said...

Maintain your business records on a duplicate, line for line, of the form 1040 and other schedules. Enter your expenses, sales, etc. on it as soon as they occur. No shoebox full of loose receipts! No end of year headache. Once yhou have that template done, it changes very little from year to year. At the end of the year all you need look up is the tax from the new tables. I send the whole spreadsheet in with the return, the list of all the expenses, etc. so no audit is necessary and I have proved that tihis losing business is not a hobby.