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Guest Post: Tax Time Thoughts

 sparhawk3 copyby Bud Sparhawk

Oh crap, where did I put that check stub, or the acceptance letter saying how much I would be paid, or the receipts from Staples?  What about the toll tickets for driving to the con, oh, and the parking lot receipts, that is if I remembered getting them.  Maybe they’re still in the glove compartment?  What do I do about the pile of comps on the bookshelf or ……

Filing the US federal tax forms is not only pure freaking misery but forces one to lapse into the reality of their disorganized life.  Don’t they understand that all I want to do is write – not be a damned bookkeeper.

Even if you get all your paperwork together there are still problems.  A publisher is only responsible for sending IRS Tax Form 1099 when the total amount paid to a writer in a single tax year is greater than $600.  For the 99.9999% of us who write genre short stories, such huge payments from a single publisher are hardly ever the case – you have to sell a LOT of words to a single market at pennies per word to make more than $600.

In an ideal universe income records automagically flow to the writer from responsible corporations who always file Forms 1099. In this fantasy land the writer should have no problem listing every cent of their income.   But over here, in the real world, this does not always happen – even when payments exceed the limit.  Neither do the publisher/editors who slip payments through PayPal or other e-means provide the necessary forms.  Yet, despite these, the IRS insists that a writer acknowledge ALL income received regardless of whether they received documentation or not. Even if a writer manages to sell a half dozen short stories in a single year they still have to list every one of those pitiful amounts.

Listing a writer’s pitiful income is not an arduous task, given a small number of sales, however it is really embarrassing to admit that you received only $10 for a fucking novella that took you six agonizing months to write, even if it was finally (Hooray!) a SALE!

At the absolute bottom of market, one step above fanzines, there are the non-payment “publications” that pay ONLY in complementary copies.  Does a writer count those two or three copies as income and, if so, at what price?  Is it considered barter when you exchange your hard-won words for printed magazines or ephemeral electrons on an obscure website?  Maybe you could charitably consider those as tips except – wait a minute – tips are supposed to be reported as well!

This forces one into excessive contemplation of work that might be more financially rewarding, of books unread, of shows not seen, and of family neglected.  Putting those aside, the writer grumbles, sharpens the computer keys and drearily enumerates their modest successes, cursing fate, penurious publishers, and citizenship.

Perhaps next  year won’t be so difficult.


Bud Sparhawk is a short story writer who has sold numerous science fiction stories to Analog, Asimov’s, and other widely circulated magazine, appeared in several “Best of” anthologies, and has works in other print, audio, and on-line media both in the United States and overseas. He has been a three-time Nebula novella finalist. He has also written technical articles appearing in various forms.

He has two print collections (Sam Boone: Front to Back and Dancing with Dragons), one mass market paperback (VIXEN), and several collections and unpublished novels available as eBooks, mostly in Kindle format. Many of his earlier works are available at Fictionwise.

Bud is currently the Treasurer of SFWA, a member of SIGMA, and a full-time writer. He maintains a weekly blog on the writing life, where this post first appeared. A complete biblography of stories, articles, and other material can be found at his web site.


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When: April 24th, 12:30 p.m.–2:00 p.m. EDT
Where: AFL-CIO, 815 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Webcast: Instructions at the end of this post.

Hosts: The National Writers Union, DC Chapter and the Special Libraries Association, Social Science Division, Labor Section

The goal is to introduce copyright to a broader audience and foster dialogue around some key current issues—orphan works, fair use, and book scanning—for all stakeholders.


Edward Hasbrouck
Activist, journalist, author, consumer advocate
NWU Book Division co-chair

Michael Capobianco
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association of America (SFWA), President 1996–1998 and 2007–2008

Kurt Wimmer
Expert, privacy and digital media law
Newspaper Association of America, General Counsel


Larry Guthrie
Chair, Labor Section of the Special Libraries Association’s Social Science Division
Special Libraries Association, National Writers Union

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International Sir Terry Pratchett Day


To celebrate Sir Terry Pratchett as The London Book Fair’s (LBF) Author of the Day on Tuesday 8 April, the International Authors Forum, in association with LBF, has designated Tuesday 8 April International Sir Terry Pratchett Day, to mark his phenomenal international publishing success.   To launch the day, authors from around the world will be asked to vote for their favourite character from one of his books choosing from a list of Sir Terry’s Official Top 10 Favourites, which are:

  1. Commander Vimes
  2. Death
  3. Granny Weatherwax
  4. Tiffany Aching
  5. Lord Vetinari
  6. The Librarian
  7. Nanny Ogg
  8. Rincewind
  9. The Nac Mac Feegle
  10. Willikins

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Cascade Writers Workshop

Cascade Writers Workshop has issued the following:

Cascade Writers Workshop (July 17-20, 2014) is a 4-day event in Kent, WA, just south of Seattle, specializing in science fiction and fantasy writing. Guest speakers include editor Beth Meacham, agents Bree Ogden and Lisa Rodgers, publisher Patrick Swenson, authors Tina Connolly and Mark Teppo, Alma Alexander, K.c. Ball, David Levine, Mark Henry, Camille Alexa, Randy Henderson, Spencer Ellsworth, and more.

The weekend includes lectures and panels with editors, agents, and professionals on topics ranging from manuscript basics to plotting series arcs. The workshop portion of the event provides Milford-style critique sessions with peers and professionals. One-on-one discussions with guest speakers and panelists will include agent pitch sessions for those interested.

For over a decade, Cascade Writers has helped writers of all levels create, critique, and publish original works.  Based in the Pacific Northwest, summer workshops are open to the general public and writers of all genres. Cascade Writers is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation.

For information on registration, housing, guest speakers, and available workshops, please visit or email

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Rush Revere And The Brave Pilgrims

This recommendation is for Best Novel. Strictly speaking, the author wrote the book as a means of teaching history, but he is using the SF/Fantasy theme of time travel to do so.

The book is Rush Revere And The Brave Pilgrims, by Rush Limbaugh. And since this is the author's first work of fiction, he is also eligible for nomination for the Campbell Award, which I am also recommending.

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The Cure for Your Distraction Syndrome

By Leo Babauta

leo_babauta2I absolutely adore the Internet, but there’s no doubt it has made us more distracted than ever. I can see this in myself, and in watching everyone else around me: constant use of laptops, switching between browser tabs, checking things on iPhones, typing in a message here and there … we all do it. But it’s not a good formula for getting things done. We may feel productive when we’re constantly switching between things, constantly doing something, but in all honesty, we’re not. We’re just distracted. A friend recently told me she thinks she has a problem: it’s hard to get work done, or focus on anything at all, with all of the distractions. In truth, we all have this problem. We’re all suffering from Distraction Syndrome. This causes people not to be able to study for class, to get important or difficult work done, to create, to be mindful throughout their day. So what’s the cure for Distraction Syndrome? Here’s what works for me:

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House Of Steel -- Related Work

Another recommendation for Best Related Work. House Of Steel, by David Weber with BuNine

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As I Knew Him -- Related Work

As the subject line says, this is a recommendation for Best Related Work. It's As I Knew Him, written by Anne Serling. It's a biography of her father, Twilight Zone and Night Gallery creator Rod Serling. I guess the best way to describe it is to say that the Rod Serling she knew is quite different from the persona he presented on screen.

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