What Have I Done?

What Have I Done?

Not long after the first book was printed and released for sale I realized something. In my quest to become a famous self-published children's author I had lost touch with reality. Like the pilgrim hero lost in the deep woods of a foreign land, I turned from the quest and sat down to ponder. What have I done?

Now that the festivities of ringing in a New Year is over, it is time to look at the reality of the self-publishing business and prepare to confront the most maligned and feared dragon of the kingdom, the Internal Revenue Service. In some ways, this is not such a bad thing. Here is why?

  • I am forced to ask the question "What have I done"?
  • This motivates me to keep track of what I have done
  • It also motivates me to journal or record each related activity
  • In turn, giving me the desire to be more organized
  • This desire now drives me to find an effective and efficient way to do all the above

To keep things clear, there are several tracks this organizational journaling should take. These files, journals or spreadsheets are developed according to the need. The need to feed the IRS dragon is of utmost importance. However, there are several facets of your business where an organized journaling, tracking or filing system would be beneficial. Ideally, these would be tailored to the needs in mind from the perspective of these divisions.

  • Legal
  • Creative
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Bookkeeping
  • Accounting
  • Future

The least that you can do is keep a clearly marked drawer of your file cabinet for papers, notes and files for each of these divisions. Let me summarize a few here and describe what is important. Please feel free to offer suggestions for journaling or recordkeeping within these realms. Let us know what works for you!


This is everything that has to do with your existence as a business. From the initial application for a business license from your local town office, city hall and county office, to the state and US government and the IRS. You would be wise to include all the legal steps in building your web commerce site and sales channels as well. This would include privacy notices, policy statements etc. As you can see the journals for this division of your enterprise may be best reviewed by a professional. Find a good lawyer friend who can help you.


When inspiration hits, do you jot something down? Are you able to find this scribbled note a few days later? Perhaps you scramble like I do to find time to take various random notes from the napkin or sticky pad or back of envelopes and put them into some logical format on the etch a sketch, laptop or PC. This can take many forms and use many types of structure. What works best for you is probably what's best


The work done in this realm is important to keep track of because the effectiveness of your marketing is proven by the number of books sold. For example, it may be good to keep track of which libraries you visited and donated books to. You may want to contact them again with your new book when you design your future campaign focused on libraries.

The contacts made throughout the day are important to note and record because you are designing marketing content for these people and others who are teachers,  parents, homeschooling, crafting, business owners etc!

The contacts you make at book signings and conferences, conventions and book fairs are all important. This journal could be time-consuming but keeping track of these contacts allows you to create and schedule your marketing plan more efficiently. 

Finally, the individual marketing plans themselves are part of your journal, tracking how these work will give you direction for future plans.


Tracking sales gives you a way to not only know how much income has been created but also how your marketing efforts are working. Sales are like the fruit that falls from the tree of your marketing orchard. The efforts you put into marketing to libraries, for instance, will show up in your sales receipts. Tracking sales has two perspectives in mind one is the marketing perspective and the other is the financial bookkeeping perspective. These records may begin together but at some point, the two will divide. The marketer will want to know the who, what, when, where and why of the sales number. This info should be kept in the marketing section of your files. The bookkeeper will only be concerned with the numbers. The question for this self-publisher is what will work best for both and how on earth am I to track all of this information without losing my mind? 

You can see by now that the pilgrim hero is looking at the trees for an easy way out of this endless forest. The quest is daunting but the rewards are less. Stand tall oh pilgrim hero, your help will come!

In the next post we will continue to summarize the remaining facets of your business. It will hopefully become clear that the best way to find the path to self-publishing success, is to forever ponder the question "What have I done?" 



To Market to Market

To Market to Market

Tracking Sales and Taxes

Tracking Sales and Taxes