Keeping Track of Things
Yesterday I wrote about treating your writing like a business, and being professional about how you deal with the finances and tax ramifications of that business. Continuing along those lines, today I want to suggest a couple more things you can do to stay organized in your writing business.
If you’re in the querying stage, you’re probably already keeping good records of that process. If you’re not keeping organized records yet, I recommend you start now! Many people create a simple Excel spreadsheet in which they track each query, when it’s sent, who it’s sent to, and the response. Record every single bit of activity, including whenever you send a follow-up, leaving nothing to memory. You can also join an online community like QueryTracker that helps you keep track of your querying activities.
Once you’re published, it’s crucial to keep track of both your income and your sales. If you’re using Quicken or another money management software, you’ll be keeping track of your income this way. At the very least, create an Excel file in which you track every check you get. You’ll need it to verify that everything is correct at tax time – for example, that your records match the 1099 your publisher sends you.
You need to start reading royalty reports and keeping track of your book sales, too. Create a file in your computer and whenever you receive a royalty statement, enter your book sales for that royalty period, and your total sales to-date. Keep this document updated at all times; you never know when someone’s going to need to know how many copies of a certain book you’ve sold. You don’t want to be guessing. This is going to be crucial when trying to sell future books to a publisher, because the first thing editors are going to ask is “What were the sales on the previous books?”
It may not be fun being business-oriented and it can be tedious keeping accurate records, but it’s one of the best ways to keep chaos from taking over your life. Keep track of everything!
And while I’m thinking of it, let me ask you: Do you have a good backup system for your entire hard drive? If you don’t, get one TODAY. If you want an online backup system (recommended), check out this comparison of the top three services. If you want an external hard drive, here are some choices. I use the Maxtor One Touch and really like it.
Q4U: How do YOU keep track of your queries, income, and sales? And do you regularly back up the entire contents of your computer?
Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent