So now it has come to this. You have striven all year, scraping and saving your money, laboring to feed yourself and your family, to heat your house and bring what creature comforts you can into your existence. You had thought to put it off, but time has a way of marching forward inexorably. January 1st has passed, followed by January 31st, and beyond that--
Beyond that, April 15th.
You are not without resources. On your side, you have experience, intelligence, a calculator, and several hours. On the other side is the best the enemy can produce: forms meant to be unintelligible by your intelligence; complicated and bizarre math meant to confound the most sensible calculation; and forms without count to make your hours as useless.
They think they can beat you. So much the better when you crush them.
You choose your table carefully, bolstering your reserves with a bottle of water, a measured mug of coffee, and a banana. Is it enough? No—no, you need more to your advantage. If you attack prematurely, the battle will rage on far longer and more viciously than if you go slowly and carefully and don’t move until you’re ready. Victory goes to the prepared, and knowledge is power.
Your strategy is clear: you start with printing out your 1099-MISC, which has been sent to you by your publishing company. Although it’s technically a neutral party, you can turn the 1099-MISC into your ally, if you play your cards right. You lay it by one side, ready to be consulted. It tells you your total royalties, but you’re not willing to take its word for them; it doesn’t contain any deductions.
Deductions! Your true armor—your ultimate ally—your counterattack to the enemy’s greedy demands. You remind them of their duty to you.
“Product expenses!” you call, and they come forward: proof copies, author copies, writing software, and office supplies. They parade before you, but you ruthlessly reduce them to numbers, that they might reduce the total of your taxable profits.
“Professional costs—all you editing and cover-design bills!” you cry. “Advertising and marketing costs—yes you, AMS and Facebook ads, author websites and marketing materials, Fiverr and BookBub and Booksprout. Come forth! Shipping costs, join them!”
They gather about you, and you mark down their numbers both individually and in a list.*
Do you have everything? Yes. Finally, you are prepared. Now, to choose the ground on which you face the enemy. You will be using its forms—there’s no avoiding that. But where? Paid software? You know that Schedule E is buggy on freefilefillableforms.com, but you can still use that as a resource, if you need to. But perhaps, yes, perhaps it is better not to give technology any hold on you, for it will only help the enemy. So you swiftly print out a Schedule E to join the 1099-MISC (and others, for if you shared your royalties with another, you need first to get a 1099-MISC to that other before January 31st) and your list of numbers, as well as every other form you need.
The papers stretch before you, seemingly without end. But they are finite, and can only attack once a year.
You raise your pencil in one hand and your calculator in the other. A smile twists your lips. The enemy is strong, but you are stronger—and a powerful enemy will only make your victory the more impressive.
*Please note that Thinklings does not charge our authors any editing, marketing, or other fees. We pay them; they don’t pay us.