Writing Romance is a
Serious Business

 © Judy Bagshaw - All Rights Reserved 




Being a romance writer is more than hearts and flowers and the ability to write a believable love scene. At some point in your writing career you need to make the decision to treat your writing as a business. For some, that will be right from the start. For others, it might come after that first sale or contract offer. Soon we will be coming into tax season, so it’s a good time to begin thinking of this and getting some things in order, if not for ’07 taxes, certainly for ’08.

I knew from the beginning that I was not up to doing myself justice trying to do my own taxes that included my writing business, so I sought out a tax professional in my town and she’s been doing my taxes for me ever since. She stays current with tax changes in my province and has been a tremendous help in getting me organized each year.

Having a writing business means you can write off a number of things on your taxes. For example, based on the percentage of office space you have in your home, you can write off a certain percentage of your heat, hydro, rent or mortgage interest, taxes and insurance. It’s important to keep your year’s bills for each of these items so your tax professional can calculate the percentage correctly.

If you use your telephone for your writing, for example, doing background research for a novel, or being interviewed for an internet romance radio show, keep track of these business calls. They can add up over a year. The same can be said for mileage for your vehicle. If you use your car to do promotional junkets, or other writing related journeys, keep a log of the miles and a record of the trip. I submit the mileage I drive each month to attend my monthly writer’s circle breakfasts. Check with your tax person however. There are rules regarding minimum distances traveled.

In this day and age a writer needs to be an equal partner in the promoting of his/her work. So now you can expect to spend a certain amount on promoting and advertising, whether it be buying pens to give out at events, or buying ad space in Romantic Times magazine. Perhaps you get bookmarks and brochures printed, or purchase business cards. These can all be claimed on your taxes.

As well, if you are a member of a writing group, promotional group, or a professional writing organization, you can claim the fees for belonging to these groups. For example, I belong to EPIC, Canadian Romance Authors Network (CRAN), Books We Love (for promotion), and The Writer’s Circle of Durham Region. Some other examples might be RWA (Romance Writers of America), or the Writers Union of Canada. There are yearly fees which I submit with my tax info.

I subscribe to Writers Digest and Storyteller Magazine. As professional journals, they can be claimed on my income tax. I also include my subscriptions to the couple of magazines and literary journals in which my work sometimes appears. After all, I have purchased these subscriptions as ‘research’ on markets. This holds true also for books you may purchase that are writing related or for research material for your work in progress.

You can claim entry fees for contests as well as fees for attending courses or taking workshops. If you study writing at a college or through correspondence, by all mean claim your tuition fees for these courses.

And don’t forget to keep all of your sales slips for supplies you use in you daily writing life: paper, printer cartridges, envelopes, file folders, etc. And, if you purchase large items in the year, like a desk, a new computer, a file cabinet, keep the receipts from these purchases. Office equipment depreciates over time, and so a percentage of that depreciation can be claimed over a few years.

On the flip side, keep track of your writing income for your taxes. There will be royalties, profit from direct sales, flat fees paid for things like articles, short stories or freelance work. If you have something like a Café Press storefront, keep track of any sales made there as well.

The rules will vary depending on where you reside, so it is a good idea to check with a professional in the field to make sure you are getting full advantage of your business as a romance writer. And knowing you are taking care of business will allow you to relax and be able to write those dynamic love scenes.


*Disclaimer: the above is for general information only.  For specific legal advice, check with your tax professional


About the Author: Judy Bagshaw has been published since 2000. Writing romance featuring full-figured heroines, her publishing credits include 4 novels, 1 collection of short stories, and short stories in three anthologies. She was also part of the writing team for the Ginn Reading Series, and Reaching Readers Series, used in many elementary schools. Retired from teaching, she writes full-time from her home in Ontario, Canada. Visit Judy's website: www.judybagshaw.com




Easy Way to Write Romance - by Rob Parnell