Yesterday I said that I was trying an experiment to see if I could write and publish a Kindle e-book in less than 48 hours.
I started the project at 1 PM on Friday, and uploaded the cover and interior file to Amazon.com at 9 this morning, finishing with four hours to spare. I didn't work steadily, but took ample time out for various necessary and optional activities. I also neglected to work on some books that were supposed to be finished long ago. That's the nature of the book business.
Writers Can Get Away With Apparently Absurd Tax Deductions That Ordinary People Can’t is not a great book, but it's a good book.
It will not be on the 'short list' for a Nobel or Pulitzer, but I know it will be useful for all writers, including freelancers who sell an occasional article, authors who are published by traditional publishers or self-publishing companies, and folks who establish their own publishing company.
As the book’s title implies, writers and other members of the media can often get away with business tax deductions that ordinary people can’t get away with. I’ve been making my living as part of the media since 1969. My income tax returns have never been audited and my deductions have never been denied. I am not worried if this book attracts the attention of the Feds.
In order to maximize the money you keep, obviously you must maximize the money you make. You must also maximize the income tax deductions you take—but don’t be greedy or stupid about it.
Every piece of media you consume -- and the equipment and services that go with them -- should be deducted in the range of 25% to 100%. Deduct movies, CDs, music downloads, games, concerts, artwork, vacations, pay-per-views, MP3 players, big TVs, little TVs, iPad, smart phone, books, magazines, newspapers, cameras, subscriptions to Spotify, TiVo and Sirius/XM, museum visits. . . all the stuff that helps you stay aware of news and culture.
Write about stuff you like, whether it’s wine, sports cars, clothes, travel, cameras, horse racing or sex. Then you can deduct everything you spend on fun—if you classify it as “research.”
If you are an author or a journalist, the key to creative tax avoidance is to write about things you like.
- If you like to travel, write about travel, and then deduct the cost of traveling.
- If you like cars, rent some really cool cars, and write about them.
- If you like to eat—and who doesn’t? -- go to lots of restaurants, attend cooking schools, stock your pantry, and write about food.
- If you smoke, write about pipes, cigars, tobacco, hashish or marijuana—and deduct the cost of your research. A trip to a cigar factory, a bong or nickel bag can be as important to your writing career as Microsoft Word.
- If you like sex, deduct the cost of sex toys, enhancement drugs, porn, trips to Bangkok or Nevada, hookers or gigolos—and write about them.
- If you like building things, buy lumber, hardware, tools and paint, write about building, and deduct the cost of your research materials.
- If you like to sew or knit, write about craft and deduct the cost of your fabric, patterns thread, yarn, trim, buttons and zippers.
- If you like to take pictures or paint pictures, write about art and deduct the cost of your equipment and supplies—even software.
- Be sensible. If your writing specialty is the Peloponnesian War or pizza, the IRS probably will look askance at a deduction for learning how to ride a horse. If you want to deduct the cost of those lessons, write about horses.
- No matter what you write about, deduct the cost of your computer, fax, Internet access, e-readers, books, magazines and newspapers.
In Kindle size with 'typical' type, it has 120 pages. That's a respectable size book, and bigger than many other sub-$3 e-books.
In the past, I was pleased to pay eBookIt to format and distribute my e-books, and I will use the company in the future. This is a much simpler book than I normally produce (simple typography and no graphics), and I was curious to see what I could accomplish on my own.
I wasn't completely alone. I had good help from Aaron Shepard's From Word to Kindle. It was just what I needed, and worth much more than its 99-cent price.
The preview turned out much better than I expected for my first effort. I was expecting to have to wait 24 hours until it became available, but WOW -- it went on sale at around 11 AM. I have to make some repairs and additions, but I won't be embarrassed if you read it now.
I normally recommend taking six months to write a book. Can it be done faster? Sure. Should it be? Maybe. Stay tuned.
The cover illustration comes from istockphoto.com, and coordinates with the covers of other books in my upcoming 'comic book' series to be published in 2013. The artist is Vasja Koman. I neglected to credit him in the e-book, but I'll take care of that soon. I paid $19.99 -- quite a bargain.