Wednesday, December 21, 2016

5 Benefits of Being an Author

So, about two weeks ago I put together 5 Unseen Hazards of Being a Freelance Author. It engendered some response from folks who didn't know all the pitfalls that come with the freelance career path. So I thought, this week, I'd shine a light on the other side of the coin. Because there are upsides to being a freelance author, too. Sometimes you have to go digging for them, but they are there.

If you look hard enough.

Benefit #1: No Pants

How's that three-piece suit feeling now?
Life as an author isn't easy, but any time it starts getting me down, I remember that I don't have a dress code. If it's cold, I put on a cozy robe, step into my slippers, and start typing. If it's hot out, then I can work in my underwear all day if I feel like it. Until Skype becomes a mandatory part of the process, I can wear whatever I want to do my job. This attitude extends to other parts of the gig as well. I can drink my own coffee, use my own bathroom, and if I want I can relax on my own couch in between assignments.

Benefit #2: VIP Treatment at Events

Most people think you have to be a bestselling big-wig before you get treated like a Very Important Person at special events like trade shows and conventions. And, for the most part, that's true. No one invites self-published no-names to be the guest of honor, after all.

With that said, though, you can still get some pretty sweet deals if you show up and let them know you're a professional in the field. Even if no one has ever heard of you.

If nothing else, you might get a free drink.
For example, if you're an author who is willing to become a part of a convention's programming (doing signings, sitting on panels, doing readings, etc.), then you can often get your badge cost compensated. Some conventions, like C2E2 in Chicago, will actually give you a day pass for free (along with early access) just for being an author. You can often get access to the green room, and you may even qualify for lower-cost tables if you intend to sell books.

A word to the wise, though. The smaller the show you try to get involved with, the better your treatment will be. If you're not a household name, that is.

Benefit #3: Tax Deductions

I mentioned this one way back in 2014 in Tax Deductions Every Writer Should Know About, but it really does bear repeating. If you're an author, you're self-employed, which means you are going to pay through the nose when it comes to your taxes. However, because you are self-employed, you can write off a plethora of stuff when it comes time to figure out how much you owe your Uncle Sam.

One for me, one for you. Two for me, one for you...
Because you're self-employed, there are all kinds of things you can deduct. For example, did you have to get a hotel room for that convention? Badge? Did you have travel expenses? Business lunch with clients? All of that can be written off at the end of the year. The same goes for new laptops, writing software, and anything else that is directly related to you putting words on the page. You might even be able to claim a part of your Internet expenses, which can bring down the amount you owe the government in a big hurry.

Benefit #4: Make Your Own Hours

This one is a bit of a double-edged sword, but generally speaking it turns out in your favor. If you're the sort of person who despises an alarm in the morning (in which case you're a member of my tribe), then the ability to work when you want to work is a great boon. Especially if you like to work late at night, or in the middle of the day, or change it up from time to time.

Time is meaningless! Your life is a lie!
This doesn't mean you're allowed to work only a few hours a day, though. On the contrary, you have to put in some long hours, pretty much every day. And you still need to make your deadlines. So, you may still be staring glossy-eyed at your screen on your third cup of coffee, but you decide when that happens.

Benefit #5: You're Always Going to Be "That Guy"

Unless you hang out with bounty hunters, Navy SEALs, and lion tamers on a regular basis, chances are good you are going to be the most unusual person in the room when you venture out into the realm of normalcy. You may not think of yourself as all that unusual, but trust me when I tell you that being a practicing author gets people's attention. They probably won't fawn over you like a rock star, but they will sit up and pay attention like a news story they're sort of interested in just crossed their Facebook feed.

So, you write books? Like, for money, and stuff?
On the one hand, this can save you a lot of time and energy when it comes to pitching your work. Because if someone is told what you do, it's likely they'll turn to you and ask what sort of an author you are (or, if you're at a really normal dinner party, the question will be, "are you published?).

On the other hand, you'll likely want to have a script prepared. Because every time you meet a new group of people, you're going to be fielding the same questions. Every now and again someone will throw you a curve ball, but if the folks you're meeting don't regularly run with writers, editors, and other pen monkeys, it can feel like your memory is stuttering.

That's all for this week's Business of Writing post. Hopefully some folks enjoyed it, and found a chuckle or two. If you'd like to help support my blog, then why not drop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page? All it takes is $1 a month to make a difference, and to get yourself some sweet swag! Lastly, if you haven't followed me on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter yet, well, why not start today?

1 comment:

  1. Some 20+ years ago, when I was working for a large banking corporation in Dallas, I owned roughly 50 suits. I currently have about 10, but the thought of getting so dressed up to go to work almost sends me into epileptic fits. Now, I often write butt-naked (especially if I’m doing fiction writing) or boxer shorts. Dress codes are not just overrated; they’re outdated.