It’s weird – the business side of writing always creeps up on me and mugs me while I’m not looking. And it’s not because I never thought I’d need to paying attention to this stuff, just that I always thought the process would move a little slower than it does.
Over the last couple of months I’ve had to set up two new spreadsheets in my writing folder. The first, originally set up a few months, is your basic quarterly profit-and-loss data – what’s coming in, what I’m spending, etc. I’d been avoiding doing this for a long while, but the realities of my working situation (heading into a year of long-term unemployment, albeit broken up by some short-term and part-time contracts) have made it necessary if I wish to continue paying rent and avoid some unpleasant conversations with the local social security office.
The second spreadsheet, and the most recent to be created, is designed to keep track of what rights are where for stories that have already been published – something that I was first told was worthwhile about two years ago, but never really seemed necessary until a few days ago (reprints, after all, were things that happened to other people). This was one of those things I figured I could get away with not doing for much longer than this – after all, I could just go check contracts when the questions came up – but what I thought was a stray question about the rights of a particular story quickly got followed by a couple of others and after I spent a week not-replying to an e-mail because I was in the midst of reorganising the files…
Yeah, well. Yet another moment where I realise that I’m slowly drifting away from being the guy who just writes and submits stories and started becoming a guy whose running a slightly wonky, badly administrated and marginally profitable small business.