Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Indie Life - swapping posts with M. Pax

The Indelibles host a monthly feature called INDIE LIFE. Modeled after Alex Cavanaugh's awesome Insecure Writer's Group, this will be a chance for indie authors to post about indie life, find each other, offer support, encouragement, news, helpful hints, and anything else that makes life as an indie author a little easier.

What is Indie Life?
How: Sign up on the Linky list HERE.
When: Post on the second Wednesday of the month.
What: Write anything indie related: something that will inspire or help a fellow indie; something that celebrates a release or a milestone; something that talks about the ups and downs, joys and heartaches of Being Indie.
Grab: The banner above to include in your posts!

Usually I have my Wicked Wednesday posts on Wednesdays, but I share a lot of my life as an indie author. I'm happy to be joining in this month talking about the weird way sales have went with The 13th Floor series, and I'm even more excited to be swapping posts with a fantastic speculative fiction author, Mary Pax.

The Business Plan, an Essential for Every Author

Swapping blogs with the awesome Christine Rains today. We’re exchanging Indie Life posts. Fantastic view over here! I need to get some shirtless guys on my covers.

Recently I heard a new term for Indie, Author-Publisher. And that’s what we are. We’re authors and publishers. We’re the talent, and we’re the business.

Business. Yes, we become one the moment we publish. Everyone knows about marketing plans and platform, but do you have a business plan? I do. Like my outlines, it’s not very detailed or refined, but it’s there.

Step One: For me, it was opening a separate checking account for my writing with its very own debit card. All expenses get paid from this account – editing, cover art, stock art, ink cartridges, copyright fees, yearly webhost subscription, yearly writer group fees, software, services. All income goes into that account – Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, paperback [in person and through Amazon], ACX.

For tax purposes, it’s very handy to have a separate account dedicated to your writing income and expenses. It’s also easy to see how you’re doing.

Step Two: You need to set a budget and decide what you want to accomplish with those startup funds. Are your expectations realistic? I started with $1K, very little. I wanted to publish two novelettes/novellas and a novel off of that. To minimize costs, I did only ebooks, made my own covers, and did my own formatting.

Starting is not easy. You shouldn’t expect to make any money on your first publications.

Step Three: How and when to add to your funds from other sources. I added at least another 1500 to my account from other sources. When I have enough to publish four books and have hired an accountant to start managing my taxes, I will begin returning the seed money to where I ‘borrowed’ it from.

Step Four: At what points will you expand and how? I lucked out with my Backworlds series selling steady. I know I can rely on X sales from each book each month on Amazon. When I reached that point, I expanded my team by hiring a cover artist. My team currently consists of: me, my editor, my cover artist, and author colleagues/friends who lend support when I’m pulling my hair out.

With a graphic artist on my team, I expanded into paperback. A friend told me about ACX, and I expanded into audio close to the same time. The only expense for both were the covers.

My plan now is to sock away money until I have enough to publish 2-3 books. Then I will look into expanding what editing services I contract and possibly paying someone to format for me at some point. I’d also like to attend more conventions where I sell in person.

Step Five: When I start earning enough to have to pay estimated taxes, I’ll add an accountant to my team.

What’s after that? I don’t know yet. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. But I will continue to have business goals and incorporate them into my plans.

What’s your plan?

M. Pax-- Inspiring the words she writes, she spends her summers as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory in stunning Central Oregon where she lives with the Husband Unit and two demanding cats. She writes science fiction and fantasy mostly. You can find out more by visiting her at:
Website / FB / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest / Wattpad

Some truths are better left unfound.

For two years Craze’s dear friend, Lepsi, has been missing. The murmurings of a haunted spaceship might be a message and may mean his old pal isn’t dead. The possibility spurs Craze and Captain Talos to travel to uncharted worlds, searching. Out there, in an unfamiliar region of the galaxy beyond the Backworlds, they stumble upon a terrible truth.

Meanwhile, Rainly remains on Pardeep Station as acting planetlord, dealing with the discovery of her lover’s dark and brutal past. Alone and questioning her judgment, her introspection unlocks more than heartache. Latent protocols in her cybernetics activate, forcing her to face a sinister secret of her own.

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. This is the fourth book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure.

Now available on these sites:

Amazon / AmazonUK / Nook / Smashwords / Kobo / Other Outlets


  1. Sounds like an excellent business plan. Thanks, you've given me things to ponder.

  2. Just the words business plan give me a headache! Good idea with the Indelibles.

  3. hey nice post meh, I love your style of blogging here. this post reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: Get A Girl .
    keep up the good work friend. I will be back to read more of your posts.


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  5. I love that you lifted the lid from the dimly lit reality that we have to subsidize our writing careers in the beginning, especially when we're author-publishers. I am always met with looks of pity when I dare bring this possibility up in company. Almost as though I'm openly admitting to being a talentless hack with the ego of a God.

    PS: I'm taking awesome your plan and with very few changes, I'm slapping it on my hubs dinner plate - Tonight! There will be trouble ahead... (hopefully followed by moonlight and dancing) :D X

  6. Sounds like a great plan, Mary! Getting a separate bank account is something I'm considering once I'm making more money more steadily. That really does help with taxes.

    Here's to eventually needing that accountant! :)

  7. Thanks for having me over, Christine. I've started your series. It gave me some strange dreams last night. :)

    My plan is fairly loose TBM. I think like pantsing and plotting, the plans will vary from person to person.

    Writing is a business, Siv.

    Thanks for stopping by, Daniel

    It's there, Alex.

    Good for you, Shah. Maybe it helps to take ourselves seriously as a business.

    I use a local bank w/ no fees, Cherie. It's important not to get feed to death.

  8. Whew! Your plan makes me glad I'm operating on a dual person team already. Thankfully my hubby and I have done crazy things like this before. (Try getting a musical on Broadway, eh?) He's a graphic artist/techie/programmer/video & audio production specialist/former accountant and business man. Me, I'm a composer, writer, educator, actress, cartoonist, social butterfly, vocal performer, and entrepreneur. I tell you what though, I sure wouldn't mind an assistant to coordinate all the details of tours and details!

  9. I don't have a plan yet. My earnings from my books go into my husbands business account - any income of mine is easily distinguishable from his. Right now, I spend more than I make from my books. My Plan (LOL) is to put out more books to generate more sales so I can pay for my habit. At some point, I hope to make more than I'm spending :)

  10. Thank you for this great post, Mary! I'm curious as to what sort of dreams you had last night. Hehehe!

  11. I did exactly the same thing. Six months ago, when I started getting bad vibes from my publisher, I started socking a little money away just in case. Well, now that I got my rights back, I have set aside $1000 in a separate account. And everything book related goes in and out of there.

    My budget is two full length novels off of that. We'll see how it goes from here.

  12. lovely to see Mary here! And oh i do love her book covers!

  13. That's a great plan, Mary! I'm going to print it out. My plan looks a little like the photo of the bridge here - a few stepping planks missing.

  14. You may find this shocking, but I have no plan. I'm going to earmark this for future reference!

  15. I could use two assistants, Crystal. I hear that.

    I'm still spending more than I make too, Gwen. But I know earn enough not to have to subsidize my next book.

    A crazy haunted apartment building, Christine.

    Budget also determines word length on your novels, Jay. Costs are a consideration.

    Great to see you, Shell.

    Mine isn't airtight either, River. But it pays to have in mind when you can financially branch out.

    No, I don't find that shocking, Elizabeth.

  16. Love that cover, congrats M Pax! :)

    That's a really wonderful post Christine. Very informative. I've done something similar to yours. Having a plan really helps. :) Thanks for sharing.

  17. I think you'll end up doing well, Jay.

    Thank you Cecilia! A plan can help. Maybe it just puts us in the right mindset, which I think is important.

  18. Mary, I cannot express how awesome this post is! I LOVE how practically you look at this, because it's so hard for many authors to disassociate their passion for writing with practicality of the business.

    The best thing hidden within what you've shared here is this: It's 100% okay to not roar out of the gates and make a billion dollars. How many self-employed people do that? I've read that most independent businesses (restaurants, etc.) won't see a return on initial investment for the first 5-8 years of operating.

    When you factor in that many indie authors are doing this as a side project to their "real" jobs, and not devoting 100% of their time to this as they would other self-employed people usually do, then there's a real need to keep some perspective and have some patience.

    Appreciated this post so much.


  19. That's a great plan! I probably should set up a separate checking account for my writing expenses as well. Thanks for the tips.

  20. Sounds like you have a smart, solid business plan. I do already have a separate account I use for writing-related stuff, into which money from (so far) freelance articles has gone. Good luck as you continue to work through your goals and find continued success in publishing.

    And definitely a nice view over here!

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  21. Thank you to everyone for stopping in today. Mary has everything under control. :)

  22. Hi, Mary,
    It sounds as if you're way ahead of the game. Good going!

  23. Smart business plan! I'm at the beginning of this indie journey, so I appreciate all the great advice from veterans :)

  24. Ooh, I love the idea of having a second checking account for things like this. Never thought of that before!

  25. Hi Christine and Mary - great guest post .. and yes business plans are essential aren't they ..

    Funny how we forget the practical side of running a business - of whatever sort .. don't spend excessively before you earn ...

    Good luck to you both - great admirations from here! Hilary

  26. Great business tips that we don't hear very often. Thanks for sharing them.

  27. It is rare to roar out of the gate, EJ. I think most of us know that by now.

    Glad you found them helpful, Sherry.

    You have a good start, Shannon. Best with your goals.

    lol I wish, Christine.

    I don't know about that, Joy, but I do realize this is also a business and needs to be treated like one.

    Hope some of it helps you, Julie.

    It's the first thing I did, Heather.

    Yes, that is a big key - watch what you're spending before you earn and even when you start earning, Hilary.

    Thanks for stopping by, Natalie.

    And mucho thanks for having me over, Christine.

  28. Wow, I haven't even thought about some of that stuff yet. I like the idea of having a separate checking account for writing. I can only hope for the day I need an accountant. :)