Finishing a manuscript is only the first step in the long process of being a successful author. Books written as a hobby almost always die a quiet death, so if you want to be a successful self-published author you'll have to treat writing as the business that it is.
Today's writers are artists, businesspeople, marketers, and organizational geniuses. A modern writer worries about word count, but also has to be concerned with the day-to-day details any other business owner deals with.
Books and Taxes
The minute you publish your book you're an independent business owner, subject to taxes on your royalties. The government treats royalties differently than it does a regular paycheck, with higher withholdings and payments quarterly instead of once a year. Writers who don't want to get in trouble with the IRS would be smart to hire an accountant to advise them on financial matters.
Insurance for Authors
Unless you're working full time and have no plan to ever quit to write for a living, you'll need to find some type of health insurance. The market is fluid and varies from state to state. Depending on your age, health, and family situation, insurance can be reasonable or very expensive. No matter the cost, it's still less expensive than getting hit with a large hospital bill when you aren't expecting it. Some writer's associations and other self-employment clubs offer discounted insurance, so shop around.
Scheduling a Must
Every writer with a solid body of work knows that "the muse" is a myth. No one builds a successful writing career waiting for divine inspiration for each and every word. Writers are in the business of writing and they have to do it every day, just like any other job. Writing is work, and hard work at that sometimes, but it's something that has to be done almost every day. You can only build a successful writing career by scheduling writing time on a regular basis. Have either a time limit, such as two hours of work, or a word count goal for each day, and don't allow any interruptions. Producing something for your book outline every day, inspired or not, is the best way to add titles to your personal book shelf.
And most importantly...
Return on Investment
Return on investment, or ROI, is a simple concept that looks at whether you get out more than you're putting in. Even the best of best sellers drop down in the ratings eventually, and most writers' books fall in the midrange at best. The way to turn a sudden windfall into a viable business is to reproduce that same success again and again.
You've invested the time and energy to finish a book and get it published, and much of that time was spent on the learning curve. You've experimented with writing itself, found an editor and support system, and learned what you need to know to get a book published. The time to make use of that investment is right after you've published your book, by starting to write the next one. One hit wonders are fun for a while, but it's the writer with a large body of work that makes a good living from royalties a long time after the first book was published.
Part of the key to generating a positive ROI (profit) is to have a solid understanding of where the costs are and how you are going to most effectively use your book marketing tools to generate revenues. You will invest a significant amount of time and money in writing, publishing and marketing your book with marketing dollars usually being the toughest to manage. This is a fact not only for authors but every marketer on the planet that has to handle the complexities of the art and science of marketing.
As a side note, we will soon be offically launching our next innovation for independent authors, a marketing framework called AuthorTree. We have mentioned it briefly, but have kept it pretty low-key as we received some feedback. It is groudbreaking, in the sense that it will help create a roadmap for not only what works to sell more books, but how to exploit a major talent of all writers to generate unlimited marketing without the cost! Stay tuned.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!