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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Business Practices, part 2

Okay, now that you have your desk in order let’s go directly to your business manager hat which is different from that stylish fedora you use for your office manager gig.

In the next post, I’ll cover some of the things I do to save money. But in this one let’s cover the essentials of running a sound ship.

Act the part. No businessperson is going to take you seriously unless you present an image that inspires confidence and ability. People just don’t hire people that are flakey. So it’s important to always present a solid, stable persona that stays above board all the way through.

Last month, Maya brought up an author on her blog who groused about his cover. Despite the fact that St. Martin’s Press allowed a redesign, the author was still dissatisfied and ended up hiring his own artist to redo it. To add insult (and perhaps copyright violations) he also self published a version of his book without St. Martin’s edits. I don’t know how long St. Martin’s Press will put up with his shenanigans but what do you think his chances are of getting a second book published with them? You get the picture. Choose your battles wisely.

Networking. Networking goes under the business manager label too. It’s important for name recognition but be wary on how you go about it. Recently someone on one of my writing forums posted a blog like article on writing. Some people liked it, others thought it was presumptuous. Some forums welcome blog posts, others look down on them as grandstanding. And forums age and change, so investigate before you populate.

If you do find a forum that welcomes blog articles post sparingly. You want to create a dialog and not a wall.

Networking can dominate a whole set of posts on its own but I won’t cover that topic at this point. Just make sure that networking is part of your agenda as a business manager. The people you meet and help today may be helpful to you years down the road. Networking is a long-term relationship, so don’t expect results immediately.

Keep good records. A good spreadsheet can tell you at a glance where you are in your business practices.

Compartmentalize. Allocate a day only for business matters. Holly Conger, artist, uses one day to handle all her business. She queries, creates promos, and sends out billing statements on one day of the week. I’m not THAT organized but it’s definitely a good tip so I thought I’d include it.

Money. If you kept good records you already know what money goes in and out. Keep a log of money spent on items such as supplies, postage, magazine subscriptions, educational forums (like workshops and conferences) and reference material. Maintain a mileage log any time you drive to and from writing related business activities.

Tax laws vary by country but if you are making money off of your writing you need to keep track of what you spend so you can deduct your expenses. Even if you are not making money yet, keeping track of expenses is a good way to judge how much you are spending and if you need to cut back.

Tomorrow: Saving your dough on a daily basis, financial boot camp for writers