Sure, business expenses are tax-deductible. But you have to pay for them up front, and wait a year to deduct. Given how long it can take to market a story or article, you will probably want to economize until the cash flow starts, well, flowing.
So when someone asks what you want for Christmas (or Hanukkah, or your birthday, or Arbor Day), don’t be embarrassed to ask for things that will help you step up your freelancing game.
And if you’re looking for the right gift for a fellow writer? Consider the following categories.
1. Enrichment. Maybe you/they want to take a class on marketing or social media or, yeah, writing.* Some of this stuff is reasonably priced but still might not be in your/their budget right now. However, you might have relatives/friends with higher gift budgets than you do, or who’d be willing to go in with several others to pay for the more expensive programs. Worth a shot – and at least they/you would know the gift will be used.
2. Child care. Whether full-time or side-hustlin’ writers, parents have a hard time finding uninterrupted time to work. Give a certificate good for two or three hours of babysitting, i.e., the kind that gets the kids out of the house entirely. Or offer to stay at the writer’s house for two or three hours and offer up your own as a retreat; that way they don’t even have to buy something to drink, the way they would at a coffeehouse.
And if you’re the one with the child(ren)? Ask friends/relatives if they’d mind giving you a couple of hours of quiet time as a special gift. This is a particularly useful idea for those with super-tight (or nonexistent) gift budgets.
3. Gift cards. Yes, some people think gift cards aren’t good presents. I disagree. How about a card to the big-box office supply store, a warehouse club (if you’re a member) or Amazon? You/they can use the scrip for whatever you need – which may include toiletries and groceries.
Readin’ and writin’
4. A subscription. Suppose you’re a food writer who’d love to get foodie mags but can’t afford many. Or any. Tell the folks who want to buy you something you actually need.
5. Writing books. Some are strictly how-to and others are more subtly inspirational. A few examples: “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” by Anne Lamott; “How I Make Money Blogging,” by Crystal Stemberger (use the discount code thankyou10 to get $10 off); “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard; “Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity,” by Ray Bradbury; and “On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction,” by William Zinsser.
6. Ready reference. Make up a list of the books you’d kill for, whether that’s the AP Style Manual or “Forensics For Dummies” (yep, that’s a real title). Or ask for a bookstore gift card and then load up on texts that will make your manuscripts sing.
7. A book that needs filling. Some people still write in longhand. If you/they do this, give blank books for the holidays: pocket-sized ones for scribbling down ideas or to-do lists, or larger ones so that you/they can sit in coffee shops looking all creative-like.
But don’t buy these
Here’s what not to give a writer:
Coffee mugs with cute sayings on them
T-shirts with cute sayings on them
Plaques with cute sayings on them
Posters with cute sayings on them
Picture frames with cute sayings on them
Throw pillows with cute sayings on them
Shower curtain with cute sayings on it
Welcome mat with cute sayings on it
Sensing a pattern here? Seriously: Nobody needs that stuff. Take the money you’d spend on a tchotchke and purchase something that might actually make a difference in a writer’s life. Who knows: You might even get a character named after you some day.
Readers: What writing-related gifts do you hope to receive some day?
*The current coupon code on my Write A Blog People Will Read course is http://1.dlfreedman.pay.clickbank.net/?coupon=REBOOT40, good for 40 percent off. The discount has been extended through Dec. 24.