Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Writers and DBAs

Another post about taxes. It’s that time of year! You probably haven’t finished them yet if you get any income from Amazon, since they say they sent out erroneous 1099s and have only recently sent out corrected ones. If you have income from several countries, good luck figuring out which new 1099 is the correction for which old 1099. Here’s a bit of help. Look at the EIN. I don’t recall who posted this on what list, but I copied it:

83-0417755 = Amazon US, CA, and IN
46-2971461 = Amazon Australia
46-2796183 = Amazon Mexico
98-0429507 = Amazon Services Europe - UK sales
98-0480990 = Amazon Media EU Sarl - DE, FR, ES, IT sales

This is incomplete, as that person doesn’t get income from all possible countries, but maybe this can help you figure it out. This seems to be secret information as I can’t find anywhere that Amazon discloses their EINs.

Now, to my actual topic. If you aren’t incorporated and don’t want to go to the expense and trouble of creating an LLC, you would probably benefit from setting up a DBA. It stands for Doing Business As. If you use a pen name, you would obviously want to do business as That Name. If you’re using your own name, you can use Your Name Writing, or something more creative. Maybe—Your Name Books, Your Name Literature.

Why do you need a DBA? If you want a separate bank account for your writing, you need one to set up a DBA bank account. From there, it’s convenient to create a PayPal account for your pen name or DBA and connect it to the bank account. I find it helpful to be able to take payments to my pen name. Also to pay for conferences with my PayPal account in my pen name. In the past, things have gotten confused when an account for Real Name pays and Pen Name shows up and people say Pen Name isn’t registered. Too complicated!

What you need to know about this is that the rules are very different depending on what state you live in. For instance, when we lived in Texas, I needed to file, for $15 at my county clerk’s office. When we moved to Tennessee, all I had to do was go to the credit union and tell them I wanted an account for my DBA. (I recommend credit unions over banks. It’s much easier to get a small business account with no fees from them.)

This may help you find out what your state requires:
Here’s another one, but with limited state information:

Good luck with your taxes this year!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Maybe I should say Happy Trails, since these are My Travels. I’ve been traveling in this space for a little over 5 years. (Reading this made me look. )

On January 4th, 2010, I posted about my journey so farAt that point, I had gotten some short stories published and had written 4 novels, all of them unpublished. I think I had been seriously writing full time for about 8 years. I started getting rejections on my first novel in 2002.

Here are some of my high points along the way.

In February of 2010, I got notice that one of my short stories had been nominated for an Agatha Award! There was much excitement about that!!

In 2011, my first novel, CHOKE, was published and received an Agatha nomination for Best First Novel in 2012.

At Killer Nashville in 2013, it was announced that EINE KLEINE MURDER was a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award.

Then, in 2014, DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE was nominated for Best Historical for an Agatha Award.

A few short stories have won awards and found homes in magazines and anthologies, which makes me very happy because I LOVE writing them. Three more will be in two anthologies this year, too.

I acquired a new writing identity, Janet Cantrell, for my Fat Cat books with the Penguin imprint, Berkely Prime Crime last year.  The first one, FAT CAT AT LARGE, debuted as a national best seller, to my complete astonishment.

How lucky can one gal get? Not much luckier than this!

Here’s to 5 more years of Travels with Kaye, wherever it takes me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Brian, Brian, Brian

What are we going to do with you?

We invited him into our home most weeknights. We depended on him to tell us the world news that our local stations don’t. They most serve as a local police blotter, weather report, and high school sports information.

I’ll admit, lately I’ve been talking back. The oversensationalism of EVERYTHING is getting old. I’ll also admit, Boston has a lot of snow. But the other places? It’s winter. It’s snowing. I also, personally, think that splatting the reports about Kayla Mueller before anyone had any information was irresponsible and harmful to her family.

But, anyway. One of my points is that we trusted him. He comes from a long line of Most Trusted newscasters: Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, Huntley and Brinkley, Tom Brokaw, and most recently, Peter Jennings.

There was one in there, Dan Rather, who was disgraced by falsifying news. Guess what? He’s defending Brian. With friends like that…Only in Dan Rather’s world could a person say, as Dan did, that “Brian is an honest decent man.”

(In 2004, he erroneously reported that George W. Bush had flaked out of his duties to the Air National Guard in 1973, and stood by the story even after critics complained that the documents appeared to be falsified. After two weeks, Rather was forced to retract and apologize for the story, and retired the next year.)

And now we find out that Brian had not, as he and NBC had claimed for many years, been on an helicopter downed by an RPG in Iraq. That story has been claimed by him for 12 years. Then, other discrepancies (lies) starting creeping out. Katrina, etc.

I saw this roll past my TV screen on Feb 7th:
“In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions.

“As Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal with this issue. Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.”

My husband says he thinks there must be a deep-seated insecurity. Some sort of inferiority complex, as we used to say. Writers know about this. With every book we put out, we fear it will be discovered that we’re a fraud; that last book was a fluke; we’re just faking it. Maybe that’s it. But all you had to do, Brian Williams, was report news—actual news—and you would have kept on being a trusted figure with a good, extremely well-paying job.

If this blows over and he starts reporting again on the Nightly News show, I’ll never watch it. How could I believe what he says?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


I put the topic in caps because this is important! You don’t want to miss out on what is, as Lucy says, “only” your “fair share”.

Some writers, even a lot of tax accountants, think the IRS hobby rule applies to writers. It doesn’t have to, if you’re serious about your writing.

To begin with, take a look at this IRS publication:,,id=186056,00.html
If you’re starting out as a full-time writer, you don’t have to declare income 3 of the last 5 years if you satisfy some requirements.

The important points for you, as a beginning writer (not making any money), from this article are:
  • Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?
  • If there are losses, are they due to circumstances beyond your control or did they occur in the start-up phase of the business?
  • Do you have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?
  • Do you expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used in the activity?

You can report losses on a Schedule C for quite a few years before the IRS will take a look at you. See this article, which elaborates on the above:

This link gives some checkpoints to make sure you’re fulfilling the requirements:

You can see that it’s important to be keeping records of submissions, classes, time spent, and to conduct writing as a business in every way you can. Also, of course, keep track of what you can deduct.

This article goes into exquisite detail:
This one includes some forms to help you keep track if you don’t already have some that you like:

I hope this helps. Don’t lose out on loss deductions that you’re entitled to. And may you someday be declaring a profit! I did last year for the first time in 12 years. It was a small 3-figure profit, but maybe someday it’ll be more.