[note: feel free to ask questions, if you've got 'em. I'm being as fiscally transparent as my personal comfort levels allow, for exactly that reason.]
Things I am doing today:1. working on d.y.m.k. production's 2011 budget.
This involves looking at the monies that are, contractually, due to me in 2011 (carrying over payments due but not made in 2010 and adjusting 2010 accordingly)*. I do not anticipate royalty payments in my budget - they are welcome additions, of course, but since I have no idea how much (or indeed, if any) will arrive, I can't consider them for the budget until/if they arrive. I have a rough idea of how much may
come in, but that idea has a rather large swing range to it. So, there's a spot in the spreadsheet, but it's left blank for now.
Likewise any short story sales, or freelance projects. There is a place on the spreadsheet for those things, and I expect at least the freelance work to continue, but until I actually get the work and invoice it... $0 on the sheet.
I have a hard and fast rule for myself - there is an Acceptable Minimum Contracted Income Level**. If I fall below that on the budget as of 1 February (allowing for a New Year's Miracle), I have to get an outside job. It could be anything from making bagels 2 mornings a week to working full-time in an office, but it's non-negotiable. And I don't kick myself or feel any kind of 'failure' when it happens - this is part and parcel of being a freelancer, having to adapt to the winds of the economy. And the economy, it occasionally blows very cold.
Right now? I am either $2,000 below or $3,000 above that level, depending on when a payment-due actually arrives, in 2010 or 2011 (this matters for tax purposes). Now, I am prettydamnsure I can make up $2,000 in freelance. But I can't assume
that I will. Nor can I assume that even my fantabulous agent, armed with fantabulous proposals, will be able to sell a new project for me in 2011 (although I hope, oh yes, I hope...)
[The budget also has pages for things like Fixed Expenses (utilities, mortgage, industry memberships/dues) and variables (supplies, shipping costs) that are adjusted on a monthly basis. This is in my head when I consider the AMCIL.] 2. working on my convention/travel schedule for 2011.
For obvious reasons, #2 comes after #1, not before. In 2010 I cut back on the amount of travel I did, both because I was crazy-busy at home, and because the cost-effectiveness was in question. This year I will likely be doing the same [partial schedule is up on my website - www.lauraannegilman.net]. However, if anyone thinks I really should attend such-and-such a convention or come out to speak to a particular group or library, etc, feel free to get in touch. Now's the time (both for now and 2012, actually).
EtA: and, relevant to the discussion, 12 Common Misperceptions About Book Publishing
, particularly #10 (h/t to marthawells
*I list both the full payment, my agency's percentage, the amount I get from my agency, and how much is taxable. Also, what quarter it arrives in, so I can do a quick hit come estimated taxes time. This has all evolved over the years, and will continue to evolve.
**said Level is my historically-estimated fixed costs (mortgage, utilities, medical insurance, groceries, etc) plus a small buffer to allow me to do things like take subways and buy an occasional book, but no non-business travel or non-essential purchases. That's the minimum I have to make to not dip into my reserves. Reserves are sacred and must be maintained.