Two Poems, Tax and Publishing

31 March 2018

Two of my poems, “How Assumption Defeated the Unisex Invaders” and “New Planet Landscape 7” are now out in “Star*Line” 41.1, and my Rhysling nominated poem “Maintenance Call” is out in the “2018 Rhysling Anthology”, the collection of poems nominated as the best SF offerings of 2017. Both are available from The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association at Both paperback and PDF are offered.

On a funny side note, my tax preparer finished our taxes and noted that a loss from Barking Moose Press (yes, I did have sales, but I also had business expenses, web expenses, and the cost of producing “Avenging Cartography”) helped to reduce my tax bite. The way she put it: “smart, to be able to deduct the cost of your hobby”. Oh, yes. And I made money on my poetry/fiction individual items side, so, with the loss with Barking Moose Press, that income got wiped out for tax purposes, and I came out ahead in ways. Well, I had decided sales were not good enough for me to press ahead with another collection of fiction, tentatively “The Revenge of the House Hurlers”, but, heck, I might do it as a write-off.

What has really most impressed me with publishing and pushing my own books is that everyone wants you to pay them to do their work. A number of independent bookstores have offered to stock my books if I pay a monthly stocking fee. They have a published policy for how they ‘promote’ independent authors – one lists $30.00 to keep two copies of one book on the shelf for one month, and they keep their 40% of cover price if any actually sell. Organizations have offered to push my books for several hundred dollars up front. It is all very cookie-cutter. I was na├»ve. So many venues that loudly claim to be for the independent author or market seem to come at you with their hand out looking for greasing up front. Quality or reputation do not matter, just credit card number.

So, when you read about an institution or venue that supports the independent author or artist, check closely to see whether their definition of independent means willing to pay to play.

And “Constant Animals”, my first self-publishing effort, has broken beyond even, earning back production and advertising costs. The other three keep me from moving entirely into profitability, but that could be achieved in 2018 if I do not do “The Revenge of the House Hurlers” -- but it looks like I might do it and take the deduction. Still deciding.

By the way, I was paid for all three poems above – not much, but there were no reading fees, and funds based on number of lines in each were sent through PayPal to my account. I’d have to look it up, but I think all three netted me about $28.00 combined. Luckily, I have government retirement, social security, and IRA to pay the rent.

Photo by Linus Sandvide.
Photo by Linus Sandvide.
Photo by Linus Sandvide.

Ken Poyner sends out a great email newsletter about his progress and life in general as a published, self published and manager of publishing, poet and author. We've had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife in person and we enjoyed every minute. His writing is just as natural too. Please share this and let's encourage Ken to share some more too!

© Ken Poyner / OgFOMK ArTS -- 2018 All Rights Reserved."Two Poems, Tax and Publishing"

#OgFOMK #KenPoyner #Publishing #RecentOfferings #Poetry #Taxes


  1. Hello

    It's unfortunate that the books stores are ”pay to play” I knew big retailers were that way, I didn't realize the independents were. I would have thought independent bookshops would encourage independents authors as a way to counter the Amazon onslaught.

    Keep publishing. Hopefully, your work will get the sales they deserve. Talk to your talk pro about business vs. hobby losses; you will want to avoid running afoul of the arcane IRS rules.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Ken has also responded.

  2. Thanks, Michael Dinich, for your comments. We appreciate your feedback!

  3. Greetings: I function under the assumption that, over time, any endeavor is taken over by those who learn to game it. The small presses used to publish deserving authors whose talents were sufficient to be worth sharing; now they provide first-book opportunities for MFA graduates, who then use that credit on a resume to use in getting a job teaching in an MFA program. There are some small bookstores that still try to find and promote quality, but to too many it has become about finding any way to augment income. And charging for shelf space is one way. One bookstore in tiny Chincoteague carries my books and sells them on a standard commission and has managed to sell over 20 copies. No shelf or other fees. But other bookstores see independent authors as someone they can squeeze at both ends.

    What really floored me is that one independent booksellers association openly promises to recommend your book, no matter any measure of quality, for a significant fee. You pay the fee, for a number of weeks they publish in their newsletter how wonderful your book -- that they have not read -- is, and let their members know where they can get the book.

    Alas, I'm still trying to figure out bookselling methods in this hopelessly venal world. Thanks for your comment.

    1. If the product is their service, then there are plenty willing to pay for it.

      On the flip side there are fans and fans will go after your work no matter what.


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