I did not form an LLC

In a previous blog post, I stated how I was forming a limited liability company (LLC) to publish my books. For the LLC, I completed the short application and long operating agreement, then decided to see what the wizard Google had to say about all of this (you would think I would have done this first).

I originally got the idea from podcasts and articles by authors who publish multiple books. They made me think it would be a good idea to start off self-publishing under the umbrella of a company. “Treat your writing like a business,” they proclaimed.

From my advisor Google, I found articles from authors and others who questioned the advantages of an LLC. At least for beginning authors. Most people publish under a sole proprietorship, meaning they are personally responsible and liable for everything.

Forming a company does not necessarily isolate an author from liability. However, liability was not the reason I considered an LLC.

It was to help me be serious about self-publishing and treat it like a business. I rethought my decision after one author wrote about the need for beginning authors to minimize expenses.

Forming an LLC in North Carolina cost $125. The annual report (really a tax) is $200 a year. This also got me thinking about complications since every year I would need to file a report (and the tax forms!).

Self-publishing is already complicated enough. Did I really want to add to my already complicated self-publishing attempt with managing an LLC?

I decided not to form one. I’ll still treat my self-publishing like a business. However, first I’ll get my books published and see where that goes. Hopefully, someone will read what I wrote.

Grant Writers Should Write Grants Only

After writing a grant, the writer should never be involved in receipt of the grant money or reporting on how the money was spent. This is the nonprofit’s responsibility.

I haven’t researched this ethical issue, this is my personal view. A grant writer should establish boundaries of what they will do for a nonprofit. Anything up to the point of submission can be the grant writer’s responsibility. Submission must be made by the executive director. After that, I think the grant writer’s responsibilities should be as a consultant, only.

  • For a nonprofit: a dishonest writer receiving grant money has all kinds of opportunities to take some of the money. They know all the details about the submission. Reporting on the grant money and a writer can control who receives the money and create false reports.
  • For a grant writer: other people can accuse the writer of dishonesty when it is someone else who is dishonest.

The grant writer should make sure the nonprofit understands the reporting process and procedures. Then, it is the nonprofit’s responsibility to correctly receive and account for the grant money. The nonprofit should report on how the money was spent.

Grant writers need to stay in their lane of responsibility. They find the opportunities and write the grants. To do anything else presents risks for the grant writer and nonprofit.

Anti-Clean Language

This blog post is about writers using profanity (obscenity, swearing, cussing, etc.). Are these words necessary in a story?

I think some profane words are all right in a novel if the words are part of the character’s personality. When a writer uses profanity everywhere, the novel is about the writer expressing a particular side of their personality. It’s not about the story.

I do not read books with excessive profanity (or graphic violence, I have the evening news for that). I think too much profanity pollutes the story with wordiness. The use of profanity can distract a reader and become a list of profane words without purpose.

Also, I find too much profanity boring. Yeah, the writer knows a lot of swear words, but can they write anything else? A writer who focuses on profane words is not focusing on the story.

If a writer uses profanity, how far should they go in the selection of words? I resent writers who use words that are anti-religious, racist, provoke ridicule, or are derogatory. Even if they keep within the character, I think this is unnecessary. If a writer wants the reader to know this about the character, they should do that in the story through active voice.

Profanity should not be the focus of the story. It should be the characters, plot, story line, and other elements in the story that make a good telling. Of course, there are readers who enjoy excessive profanity and do not care about the choice of words. That is not for me.

I’m interested in the story, plot, and characters. I enjoy word usage, style, and technique. Qualities I have never found in a novel with a list of profane words.

Steps in the grant writing process

These step-by-step procedures provide the basic processes to follow when writing grants.

A grant writer should only follow these steps after they have fully understood the nonprofit’s organization, their mission, and specific needs. A nonprofit should only follow this list if they are organized, have a mission, and know what their specific needs are.

In these procedures, there’s not much writing, a lot of preparing to write, and some work afterward if the grant is accepted. The first half of the list is the grant writer, the second half is the nonprofit.

The List

1. Conduct research and find a foundation that meets the nonprofit’s mission and needs
2. Once a foundation is found, learn more about it through further research
3. After further research, contact the foundation for more information
4. Read, more than once, the details of the grant application and research found. Make notes of keywords repeated.
5. Gather nonprofit data for the application
6. Write the application
7. Have at least one person read the application as an editor
8. Check everything over
9. Submit
10. Do not contact the foundation. Wait to hear from them.
11. If the foundation rejects the application, call and find out why for next time
12. If the foundation accepts, thank them immediately
13. Get reporting details and restrictions (if any) on spending the money
14. Receive the money
15. Spend the money
16. Report on the money to the foundation

A grant writer is responsible for steps 1 to 8 or just before submission of the grant application. The rest of the list, from submission to final reporting, is the responsibility of the nonprofit.

A grant writer should never be involved in the receipt of the money or reporting how it was spent. I will go into why on the next post about grant writing (in two weeks).

Learning is Forever

Writing is putting letters into words, extending the words into sentences, and ending it all in a series of paragraphs. Hopefully, so it all makes sense. Like I try to do with this blog each week. Writing is certainly not an easy thing to do.

A lot of things are not easy for me to do, but with writing I take the time to learn how to do it better. The more I learn, the easier it seems to get (or it appears to me that way). I think it is the same with any skill.

To learn how to write better, a person needs to make the decision they want to write better. This goes back to a previous blog post about motivation. A person, on their own, should want their writing to be understood by as many readers as possible.

This means a writer should continually learn the craft of writing. Just like construction workers adapting to new regulations and tools, a writer must keep up with the latest trends and technology. This is what makes writers successful. This is what stops writers from being understood.

As an example, some still put two spaces after a period, do not accept the Oxford comma, and use gender speech incorrectly. They do not accept that long paragraphs are out, white space on a page is in, and everything must be mobile ready. While they may have learned writing rules using a computer, that may have been twenty years ago.

Keeping up with the latest writing trends and technology makes writing even harder. Yet, like any craft, if a person has motivated themselves to be better, it would be easy to keep up.

Writing Grants is Writing

I blog about creative writing and grant writing because I do both and I see a lot of similarities.

In creative writing, a writer needs to know how to write. This may seem obvious, yet many people take on grant writing without believing there are writing rules to follow.

Before drafting a grant request, the writer needs to achieve a level of understanding about writing. Such as how to use active voice, minimize the number of adverbs, and how to compile sentence structure.

Once there, a grant writer can improve their writing by re-reading what they wrote and being critical of their words. After this, the grant writer should get others to read what was written. A grant writer needs to accept critique and be open to criticism from themselves and others.

Of course, understanding writing and how to critique applies to all types of writing. This is important for a grant request because it involves funding for a nonprofit. A writer can use an intended way that is clear and simple or put something on paper just to get it submitted in time.

Ignoring the rules about writing leads to a grant request that might not make sense and a waste of time for everyone. If a writer puts in the effort and work to write a grant request, they should want to make sure other people can understand what was written.

A New Year

Since this is the last post for 2018, I have resolutions for 2019. This is a surprise to me since I don’t make resolutions. If I start or stop something, I do it when I’m ready and not wait for a specific date. If I did wait, I’d probably forget what I was planning to start or stop.

One resolution is to continue blogging. This is my 48th blog post and I know this because I number each file. Otherwise, I’d have to do a lot of counting. I plan to continue this blog, alternating between grant writing and creative writing, as I do now since it shows I’m consistent at something.

The other resolution is to get at least one book self-published. I would prefer getting an agent, yet I do not have enough Facebook likes or Twitter followers and I don’t do Instagram or other social media sites. Per a popular literary agent, social media connections are more important than what is written. Mainly, I’ll self publish because I’ve already querying many agents without success.

To start the self-publishing path, I’m setting up a limited liability company in a few weeks. I’ve read and listened to a lot of people about self-publishing and this is the path I’ve chosen. It also includes getting an editor and someone to help with this website since I keep forgetting what I taught myself.

Self-publishing is time consuming, so I freed up time by resigning from some of my volunteering duties. I was getting way too involved in way too many things, anyway. I learned that having enough time to do things leads to a better chance of success.

In 2019, I’ll focus on the volunteering that I feel good about and helps more people. With the extra time I have, I’ll send myself off into the self-publishing world.

Write Grants Only

I’ve written about this before, but it needs emphasizing and further explanation.

Grant writers should stay away from being board members or in charge of anything except writing grants. If a grant writer wants to be on the board, they should not write grants.

It is an issue of priority and authority. The grant writer must focus on a nonprofit’s most critical needs. As a board member, authority gets in the way of the priority and unfortunately changes the needs.

There are politics on any board, and members can change the priorities to benefit some strange purpose. Being on the board, a grant writer is too close to these authorities. Away from the board, the grant writer has more leverage to prevent strange decision making.

Most importantly, a grant writer needs to be objective (neutral, unbiased) and being on the board can affect this position. As an example, on the board, a grant writer is a voting member, which can alter priorities.

I write this because I made a mistake of writing grants and later agreeing to be on the nonprofit’s board. I have since resigned from the board (for several reasons) and will go back to what I originally wanted to do, which was writing grants. Being on the board and writing grants is not an experience I will repeat.

For the grant writer, what is the goal? If it is to get money for the nonprofit, stay there.

I have a few words to avoid

Every writer, I think, has the habit of using two or three words way too many times. For me, it is “but,” “really,” and “just.” I have been fortunate to realize this and either avoid them or take them out when I don’t avoid them. But, they really are just unnecessary.

Just like starting a sentence using “and” or “then” either separately or together. It is rare these words are ever needed like this. If a writer thinks they are needed to introduce the sentence, they should rewrite the sentence.

I could explain this more, but I try to avoid the word “because,” because things should be explained without saying, “Here’s the explanation.”

I try to not start too many sentences with “The.” Many sentences do not need to be addressed that formally. The introduction of people, events, or other incidents should already be there waiting to take action.

Finally, each paragraph should not begin with the same word. At least, not more than twice in a row. Paragraphs should be unlike their past and future selves.

This is all about different word choices. Use a diverse culture of words to be inconsistent. That is the story of creative writing. Writers write a story with a plot in mind and it is the use of word variety that makes it readable.

P.S. I ended my book without the performance. I wrote the chapter and it looked like it was screaming to get it out of there. It fit in perfectly as the introduction into the second book that I was trying to avoid writing.

Some Grant Writing Tips (Here’s the rest of it, Part II of 2)

Another Opportunity
If a foundation states they do not accept unsolicited grant requests, do not send them a grant request. Do not call. Instead, send them information about your nonprofit. This should be no more than a page and a half with attachments.

Include a few glossy brochures with pictures that explain the mission and purpose of the nonprofit. The best thing to send is testimonies and pictures of the people who the nonprofit helped. I then wait for the foundation to contact the nonprofit, if they do. If not, I do not bother the foundation again.

I have had success using this method. Over half the time, the foundation sends a grant request.

Don’t Waste Time
Some nonprofits focus their effort on applying for grants they have little chance of getting. The top U.S. foundations (with the most money) accept less than five percent of the grant requests they receive. Many of them look for wide impact on a national level. A lot of them fund projects in third world nations.

A grant writer should look for foundations associated with a business in the local area. If a nonprofit is in a rural area, find family foundations. People are more likely to give in an area they know well.

The biggest problem is applying to foundations that fund projects not in the nonprofit’s mission. If the foundation states they will not fund it, they will not fund it.

Organization
Keep every detail about every grant request sent out. Use a spreadsheet and avoid complicated software programs. Note deadlines, acceptance dates, and when to expect a check. If rejected, call the foundation and ask why. Record this, too. This database can be important for future grant requests.