Tuesday, June 14, 2022

How to Treat Your Writing Business Professionally

by Cindy K. Sproles @CindyDevoted

The mail is delivered, and you receive your first payment for writing. It may only be $25, but the fact remains: an earned check is exciting. Your writing has just moved to the next level—it's become a business.

Of course, it depends on how you want to run your business, and that is between you and your accountant, but there are some things you need to remember. 
  • 1) earnings are taxable
  • 2) expenses are deductible
  • 3) records are necessary
When you sell your first book and receive an advance, you must keep a running record of income and expenses. It doesn't have to be fancy. Just two envelopes with expenses written on one and income written on the other will help immensely when tax season rolls around.

Many writers think it was just $25, and I'll never sell anything else. Call it "under the table" and be done. Well, you could do that, but the question is—is that honest? I remind you of the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Lying about your income, regardless of the amount, is not truthful. It wasn't that God wanted the total amount of their tithe that forced His wrath on Ananias and Sapphira. It was the fact that they lied. 

I doubt you'll be penalized over such a small amount, but the principle is the same. Start your writing career on the right foot and keep your books on the up and up. Your accountant can decide whether the amount needs to be taxed or not. Yearly, I keep any payments made to me in a file. At the end of the year, I can quickly transfer the amounts to a spreadsheet that fully discloses any payments or royalties I have earned. Our family hires a good account because—well, I'm not good at the ins and outs of the tax laws. Often our accountant can find things I would never think of that works in conjunction with my writing income and works to our advantage tax-wise. The point is, to be honest. Jesus said, "Give to Caesar what is His." You will be glad you began your writing career on the right foot.

Just as you keep up with any income, do the same with your expenses. Anything you pay out related directly to your writing, travel, new equipment, internet, off-site storage, or even mentoring and extended learning can be lumped together for expenses. It behooves you to keep track.

As I travel, speak, mentor, and write, I keep a log sheet of what I am doing. It houses my work, payments for that work, advances (because they pay in pieces), articles, book sales, and payments received, as well as client names and what I have done and when they pay. This helps prevents me from cheating myself or missing a deadline. It also aids in reminding me when I should receive payments for services rendered, articles, and contracts. I'm often amazed when I look over my log sheet, just how much work I have done. HINT: a certain percentage of the work I offer as a donation is also useable in tax season. The rules are tight, and you should seek counsel from an accountant on how and if the work you have done qualifies for this deduction. 

Keeping a log sheet also keeps you accountable and allows you to see all you have accomplished. Start your writing career right. Keep up with the business end as well as the writing end of being an author.


Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries and the executive editor for www.christiandevotions.us and www.inspireafire.com. Cindy is the lead managing editor for SonRise Devotionals and also Straight Street Books, both imprints of LPC/Iron Stream Media Publications. She is a mentor with Write Right and the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference held each February at the Billy Graham Training Center, the Cove, Asheville, NC. Cindy is a best selling, award winning novelist. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.


  1. I use Freshbooks for accounting. It is super easy, and I can print out reports for my accountant. It also tracks all my in-person sales for quarterly sales tax payment.

  2. Good job. And thanks for giving the name of the system. Others cab check it out

  3. Wonderful advice!