2015-01-11

Amazon currency exchange fee

I’m about 60% done with bringing Dragonverse up to my current writing standards. I've made a few small tweaks to the book as well to put it more in-line with what I have in mind for the series as a whole. This is the wonderful part of electronic self-publishing—I can go back and edit a book at any time.  For those who have already read Dragonverse, don’t worry—the changes I've made don’t affect the story at all and you will not be at a loss if you read the next book in the series. The biggest change is the age of the protagonist—now 22 instead of 37—a much better age. This was a suggestion from a reader from a long time ago.

It’s tax time and time for my annual reminder regarding Amazon 1099s. If you have any overseas sales, Amazon is going to charge you a small fee to convert the currency into dollars. This fee is a business expense and is tax deductible. Amazon is real good about telling you they're about to deposit money into your bank account. They don’t tell you how much you are being charged for this service though. So how do you find out? Easy, when you get your 1099s from Amazon, add them up and then subtract the total that they actually deposited into your account last year. The difference is the foreign exchange fees. Why doesn't Amazon simply tell you what this fee is? I don’t know. I ask them the same question every year and every year I get the same answer – silence.

This points out another important tip for writers—maintain meticulous records of everything business related. I touched on this subject in my previous blog but it certainly can’t hurt to stress this important business practice. As long as you are being as honest as possible with the IRS and you have the records to back up what you file, then any audit or questions from the IRS will be a breeze. Keep good records and keep them safe.

This brings up the final point I want to cover—keeping your data safe. Hard drives are not foolproof storage devices. Drop one on the floor while it’s running if you want to try to prove me wrong. Most writers have a lot of electronic records. Make sure you have a foolproof backup of this data. I use Dropbox to house my writing files. My books, business log, scanned records, and Quicken financial database are all stored on Dropbox. These files are backed up to the internet and synchronized to all of my other devices automatically.

I also use Crashplan to keep all of the home computers backed up to the cloud. The cost for this service is worth the peace of mind it give me. If my house were to be beamed into space by aliens, I would still be able to recover everything. I have hundreds of songs, pictures, movies, and books stored on my hard drives and losing them would be a major depressing event.

One final application you should download is LastPass. This is a secure, password organizer. It runs on all my machines as well as my phone. All of my complex passwords (generated by LastPass) are stored in this application’s database. Since all of my passwords are stored in LastPass, I can make each one different and as complex as possible. Of course, if you leave this program unlocked on an unlocked cell phone, then anyone can gain access to your username and passwords. Never leave LastPass unlocked and please put at least some sort of minimal security on your cell phone. The same applies to your home computer. Using LastPass also allows you to periodically change your password to keep it secure.


That’s it…back to writing.