A native of Colorado, Mrs. Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant, currently resides in the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina, with her husband. Mrs. Bryant is a published author, freelance writer, novelist, editor, ghostwriter and a literary and entrepreneurial advocate. She is the founder and owner of YolandaMJohnson, Literary Wonders! and Bryant Consulting. She is a columnist for Examiner.com, RAW Sistaz Literary Services and other literary venues. Mrs. Johnson-Bryant is a member of The Nussbaum Entrepreneurial Center, Women of Leadership and Learning (WELL Women) and Toastmasters. She also conducts workshops and classes on writing and entrepreneurship and is also a member of several reading and writing groups.
A Fresh Start
Happy 2011! You’ve survived to live another year. If you haven’t already, take a few moments to reflect on the successes and failures of the past year and consider how you can take those lessons into the New Year. Why not give your brand a facelift and make 2011 your best year yet!
Re-evaluate your business status. Whether you are an author or a freelance writer, you are a business owner. Are your business matters in order? Now is a good time to decide if you’re going to make this writing thing a hobby, or if it’s something you also want to profit from. Do you want to be a sole-proprietor, a Limited Partnership, a corporation, or a non-profit? What are the differences?
Sole Proprietorship is a type of business entity that one individual owns and runs; there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business. The owner receives all profits (subject to taxation specific to the business) and has unlimited responsibility for all losses and debts. Every asset of the business is owned by the proprietor and all debts of the business are the proprietor’s. This means that the owner has no less liability than if he or she were acting as an individual instead of as a business. A sole proprietor may use a trade name other than his or her legal name after filing a doing business as statement with the local authorities.
LLC, also known as Limited Liability Company, is a flexible form of enterprise that blends elements of partnership and corporate structures. It provides limited liability to its owners in the vast majority of United States jurisdictions. LLCs do not need to be organized for profit. It is often more flexible than a corporation and it is well-suited for companies with a single owner. It is important to understand that limited liability does not imply that owners are always fully protected from personal liabilities. Courts can and will pierce the corporate veil when some type of fraud or misrepresentation is involved.
Corporation is a formal business association with a publicly registered charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own privileges and liabilities distinct from those of its members (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation - cite_note-0). Many different forms of corporations exist, most of which are used to conduct business. An important (but not universal) feature of a corporation is limited liability. If a corporation fails, shareholders normally stand to lose only their investment, and employees will lose their jobs, but neither will be liable for the corporation’s debts.
It’s tax time. Do you have all your receipts in order? If not, you may want to do that. Check the IRS Website for new tax laws and be sure to maximize your tax deductions, including office space, office and computer supplies, conferences and workshops, related classes, printing, related subscriptions and magazines, professional services, such as accountants and bookkeepers, phone and Internet charges, mileage and use of your car, and professional membership dues and fees.
When was the last time you looked at your business or marketing plan? Although you may not change your business plan on an annual basis, I recommended that you revisit your market plan
several times a year. Things such as trends, the economy, and new releases give us the opportunity to re-evaluate and tailor our plans so that it takes advantage of any changes in the industry.
Next, is it time to give the front door of your business a face-lift. How does your Website look? Now is a great time to update it and make it SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ready! Update your contact information as well as your event schedule. Do you have new book signings, workshops, seminars, speaking engagements, or conferences that you’ll be attending? Is the look and ease of your Website fresh, vibrant, and competitive with other authors and writers?
When was the last time you updated your business cards? Why not make new ones with a new look and updated information? Add any new experience to your business cards since your last update.
Speaking of new experiences, now is the time to update your literary resume, which comes in handy when you are seeking freelance and other writing jobs or projects. In addition to your literary resume, updating your press kit is crucial. Update your photo and contact information and keep this information current.
A new author photo or portrait may be in order. Make this the year to get rid of that old cell phone photo you’ve been using and hire a professional photographer or portrait studio for a photo that freshens your brand and makes others take notice.
Have you considered a blog tour? It allows you to get your book in front of thousands of readers without leaving the comfort of your home. How cool is that? My personal recommendation for tours is our very own Christian Fiction Blog Alliance(parent of this magazine) and Tywebbin Creations.
Finally, make 2011 the year you attend writers and reader’s conferences and festivals. Have a few book signings. If you have a new title coming out, get your press release and press kits to the appropriate people. Market and promote your socks off. While they are still free, utilize social media to the max. Keep up on industry news and trends to make the New Year the best year yet.