I was up past midnight yesterday getting my latest issue of the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine out. Today has been a catchup day, plus it was my monthly day to see my accountant and make sure everything is clicking.
A few comments caught my eye:
Daan wrote several comments that somehow got caught in my spam filter. Sorry Daan! It’s usually very reliable, but it must have seen something it didn’t like. I sent that spam filter to bed without any dessert.
I have returned from vacation yesterday and I spent quite some time reading all the posts by you and Susan as well as all the comments and questions. It was great!
Two months ago, I was inspired to translate an English novel in Afrikaans and, thanks to the holidays, I have translated 216 of the 338 pages, which is 73 326 words.
Randy sez: Yes, Susan’s series of guest posts is probably the most popular series I’ve ever done. Wow, Daan, you are really cooking on that translation. I know how hard translation is and what an art it can be. Have fun and good luck! Welcome back to the blog. We’ve missed you.
What is the advantage of incorporating your business? It sounds like a lot of work and at least some expense, so what is the advantage to you?
Randy sez: That’s an excellent question. I only recommend incorporating when you have a business that is earning a substantial part of your income. Incorporation has some advantages, but it also has some costs. Bear in mind that I am not a lawyer or accountant, so the following does not constitute any sort of legal or accounting advice:
The advantages are as follows (and you can talk with any accountant about whether these apply to you):
1) A corporation is not you, so if somebody sues your corporation, they may conceivably bankrupt it, but they won’t bankrupt you. This is a minor point, but we’re writers and we say things in public that may make people angry.
2) There can be tax advantages for having a corporation that earns the income and then pays you a salary. An accountant can explain the differences between a C corporation, an S corporation, and an LLC, along with the tax advantages and disadvantages of each. Which of these is right for a writer depends on circumstances. I have an S corporation, but one of my writer friends has a C corporation and another has an LLC.
3) Drat, I forgot the other advantages. But the above two can be quite important. In particular, the tax advantages are very important.
The disadvantages are as follows:
1) It costs something to register as a corporation. The State of Washington is a good state for corporations and quite inexpensive. I have to pay my registration fee every year and pay a corporate agent.
2) A corporation is not you, and it must have at least one annual meeting of the Board of Directors and another for the Shareholders and proper minutes must be kept. My wife and I are the entire Board and the entire set of Shareholders, so we held our two meetings back to back in about half an hour. I wrote a President’s Report which I presented at the meetings and wrote up minutes and that was that. My accountant looked it over today and said I did an excellent job.
3) You can’t mix your personal money with the corporate money, because the corporation is not you. If you mix money, then the government can decide that the corporation is just a sham and can take away your tax advantages, which are generally substantial. The laws are written to make life good for corporations, so it pays to be one.
4) You have to have a good accounting system, which usually means getting an accountant. The fact is that if you’re earning much money, you need one anyway to keep track of it all, because doing the taxes just gets more complicated every year.
Thanks Randy for your blog. Your last one, asking us to tell what we planned to do that day, got me motivated to choose something that would help clean up the clutter in my office as well as in the rest of the house. The job is far from done, but a lot of progress has been made. Some of this is because my husband also jumped in to help with this chore . . . and I didn’t even have to ask him.
Randy sez: I’ve found it useful to take a 15 minute break each day and get up, stretch, walk around, drink some water, and then declutter one small part of my work area. That may be my out-box or my desk or one shelf or whatever. The other day I cleaned up one drawer that contains my checkbook, checks, and all that. Not a big job, but that drawer had been causing me confusion whenever I opened it. Now it’s in good shape. You need to take breaks every hour or two anyway, so you might as well do something useful (and boring so you’ll be happy to get back to work).
I don’t know what your take is on the critiquing the work of other writers in an online fashion. I mentioned that I have joined a critiquing website www.critters.org which is basically a web version of the writers getting together to look at each others work. I must say it is a good move because just reading how to critique and then doing it forces me to edit my own work that much better. I would highly recommend this site for two very good reasons: First it has writers from novices to published and it archives all of the critiques so you can see what actually catches the eyes of people. The only way it could get better is if it had seasoned editors. Secondly it is free! You must perform critiques in order to be allowed to post your own ms. Seems fair to me!
Randy sez: This sounds like a great organization to me! When I started writing, nobody was online except us techie geeks, and there was no web. I lived for my monthly in-person critique group where we used real paper and red pens and sat around a table. But some months were well-attended and some weren’t. Online, somebody is always there, and you don’t have to be there at the same time. It’s a whole new world, and an online critique group can move you forward massively.
Getting critiqued is part of continuous improvement, and that is Xtremely important.
Gerhi Janse van Vuuren says
I find your information on a corporation interesting. The Companies Act in South Africa is being amended so nobody knows exactly how that works out.
But I’m in the process of creating two Trusts for our family. The main advantage is that both these Trusts will not be me, can’t be sued if I am, and don’t die if I do.
The one Trust will own property, for instance the copyright to my work. The other Trust will deal with the liabilities such as sign licensing agreements and ‘manage’ the copyright and more on behalf of the first Trust.
They are not functioning yet, but I must agree that it is at the moment still a mind spin.
The main reason and advantage of setting up Trusts, and a Corporation if I understand it correctly, is that you seperate your assets and liabilities. That way you protect your wealth for yourself and your children. An added advantage is that assets in a Trust is not subject to Estate Duties. It is you who die, not the Trust, so your children inherit significantly more (in South Africa in particular).
Parker Haynes says
Thanks again for your tireless work with your blog and your newsletter!
And a special hug (yeah, guys can hug guys and still be straight) for recommending Margie Lawson’s lecture packets. I ordered “Empowering Characters’ Emotions” immediately and although I’ve only read the Welcome so far, I’m hooked, psyched, excited. I’ve known that showing/conveying emotions has been difficult for me and I expect Margie’s insights to be tremendously helpful. As soon as I’ve worked my way through this I’ll order her “EDITS” packet.
As an added bonus, Margie, like yourself, seems to really reach out in her efforts to help. And, in her eamil says that although she didn’t really meet you, you are her new best friend.
I highly recommend her! www.margielawson.com
Gerhi Janse van Vuuren says
Ok, now I had a chance to read the newsletter and I’m back with a gripe. Ok, maybe not a gripe, let’s say an appeal.
I have to face the fact that until I make megabucks or have saved for a number of years attending one of the type of conferences you mention is just a pipe dream. I love conferences and I would love to go. An if I could drive there I’d sleep in the foyer to make it happen.
But I would need a Visa, a passport, a return plain ticket, a guaranteed amount in my account or my wallet (which is a lotta money taking the exchange rate into account) and that is before I even arrive at the conference and start paying fees there.
So, if a conference is the best thing you can do to market your writing career, while also hobnobbing with other literati and taking workshops on craft, what is the SECOND best thing you can suggest for us poor smucks that can’t get to a conference?
Carrie Stuart Parks says
I don’t know if Randy wants us to respond to each other, but if you can’t get to to a conference, why not make a conference? After all, a conference is nothing more than like-minded people getting together, pooling some money, and bringing in presenters. You find a hotel, or camp, or school willing to give you a great break on facilities, get a core group willing to help (for reduced conference fees), have a theme where local folks (no fees, no travel) can contribute, and go for it.
Your name looks Dutch, but possibly S. Africa. There are writers everywhere, and publishers, and people who know a lot about different aspects of writing (estate lawyers, CPA, etc.) who would talk about some part of writing in order to pick up some clients.
OK, ’nuff said.
Robert Treskillard says
You mentioned in your e-zine that you’ve been working on a proposal. One question I have is if your proposal is for a series of books or just a single book? And if it is for a series, how does that kind of proposal differ from one for a single book?
What kind of things would a publisher want to know about the “future” books in order to commit to a series?
Anyway, this is probably off-topic, so if need be I’ll be fine waiting for the answer until proposals become the topic.
I don’t know why, but it is more intimidating to me to be critiqued by peers than to be critiqued by an editor. Am I the only one?
Hi Randy, Thank you for the information on incorporation. I found it helpful. Obviously, I’m not there yet, financially, but it is good to know about these things ahead of time, right?
May I answer Karla? I was terrified when I went to my first critique group. My hands shook and I could hardly read my piece without crying. However, after many years, it has become a delightful process, because I know that my work grows better after each critique. Just remember that your critiquers are not “killing your baby,” they are just doing needed surgery which will make it function better. And possibly SELL! I prefer to ask for “suggestions” rather than a “critique.” “Critique” seems harsh and uncompromising, somehow. Hang in there!
ML Eqatin says
May I also answer Karla?
Facing readers with what you’ve written is just like any other skill. First time, you aren’t used to it, you’re probably not very skilled, it’s terrifying and there are aspects which are unpleasant. But then you get over the things that were said that you didn’t like, you see that the criticisms had some validity, or you figure exactly who your reader is. And then you get better; and if you keep it up, you develop a thicker skin. Eventually you get to a place where you are eager to hear what people didn’t like, where they got bored, what stopped them or turned them off. Hearing that from your readers is the most valuable input you can get. Way better than editors or other professionals.
I eat it up. James 1:2-4. I also like hearing that something I wrote amused or entertained somebody, but I’ve already heard that. Just tell me where I need to improve.
Don’t wait to jump through the professional hoops to start learning from your readers. Plunge in, the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll swim!
Pam Halter says
Welcome back, Daan ~ I was wondering why you were so silent.
Critiques ARE hard. When someone doesn’t absolutely love our stuff, it makes us feel as though we arent’ good enough. The truth is, we all need critiquing. We need a good editor to work with us and make our writing shine. But remember, the seed of the work is yours, the sweat of the work is yours and it’s your name on the cover.
Charlotte Babb says
I have used critters.org and they have an excellent system. You get critiques after you give them, and you can ask for or sign up for critique partners who will work on an entire novel instead of a short story.
Most of the critiques I got were very good. You don’t get points if you don’t write detailed (or at least long) critiges, so the system works very well.