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Recordkeeping

My adventures in becoming a more formal writer continue this week with: recordkeeping.

Last week I mentioned that I filed my books' earnings on my taxes for the first time.  After doing so, it occurred to me that I've done precisely nothing to keep track of finances so far.  I have a loose tally running my head as to what my total book sales / giveaways have been and how much money I've spent, but nothing formal.

Even though the totals aren't impressive, my next priority is going to be to formally log all those numbers somewhere that I can reference them.  True to the spirit of my self-publishing career so far, this is something that I discovered well after the fact that I should have been doing the whole time.

Right now it's not that big a deal because the consequences of losing this information are modest at best. If I neglected to report my royalties on my taxes, a particularly astute auditor at the IRS might have noticed some missing pocket change one way or the other - but that's about the worst of it.  So it sometimes feels like a mountain-out-of-a-molehill situation.

The thing is, paltry wages aside, I'm already finding this to be a challenge.  I have three books on the market now and the oldest has been out for about two and a half years.  So, regardless of how I organize the data, I have to go back and tally up thirty months' worth of information and make sure I assign it to the correct product.  And even though many of those months will be a big fat "0," that doesn't mean I don't still have to double-check.

In some ways it's the kind of project I can kinda have fun with.  I track sales numbers as part of my day job and it's always a little interesting (to me only) to mess with the numbers and projections.  It would be good to bring that same energy to my "for pleasure" job as well.

In other ways, it's a pain in the ass, because once again: I should've been doing this from the start.  Let this be a lesson to any aspiring self-publishers who are fishing for advice: lay the foundations of your business when it's easy, not after you've started to second guess yourself.