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Monday, July 20, 2009

Brigitte A. Thompson Gives Writers a Dose of What They Need

Title: Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers
Author: Brigitte A. Thompson
Genre: Nonfiction, business
ISBN: 978-0963212382
Reviewer's rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by Michelle Dunn for Amazon

Review:

- Writers everywhere will be so happy to find this book! I am a writer, not a bookkeeper, but bookkeeping is a big part of being a writer. Unfortunately, many writers do not have bookkeeping or business skills. This book can help you tremendously with forming your business, setting up what you need to do legally, choosing a name, and documenting your income for the IRS. The forms included in this book are invaluable and make the process much easier and stremlined, including a freelance contract and subcontractor agreement. Save yourself much time and aggravation and use this book and the forms included to begin your successful writing career today! ----Michelle Dunn, columnist and author of eight books in the collecting money seri

Synopsis:

Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers addresses issues writers face daily such as how to deduct travel expenses, determine taxable writing income, and claim home office deductions.

Navigating through the recordkeeping required for a small business owner can be difficult. This book is written exclusively for those of us who earn money by writing. It includes useful information to help interpret the complexities of our federal tax code and proven techniques to reduce taxable income. T

hroughout the book we have included tips from both new and seasoned writers. In the Tips forSuccess feature writers share the wisdom they have acquired over time. In the Writer’s Block feature you will discover specific questions writers have submitted which, when answered, helpclarify points made about that topic.

You will also find that each part of this book works together to assist you in forming your overall business plan. Each chapter steps through a comprehensive plan that works as a building block towards a successful writing business.

Q&A/Interview:

An interview with Brigitte A. Thompson, author of eight financial books including the just released Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers published by Crystal Press.

Tell us what Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers is about.

Writers have many important questions to ask about income and expenses, but no single source for answers. I created this book, Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers, to be that source. It is an easy-to-understand guide to organizing a writer’s financial life.

This book addresses issues writers face daily such as how to deduct travel expenses, determine taxable writing income, and claim home office deductions. Navigating through the recordkeeping required for a small business owner can be difficult. This book is written exclusively for those of us who earn money by writing.

Readers will also find that each part of this book works together to assist in forming an overall business plan. The chapters take the writer through a comprehensive process that works as a building block towards a successful writing business.

Have you found that freelance writers require a different set of bookkeeping rules?

Many bookkeeping rules are universal such as the requirement to record income, but there are some areas of the tax law that are of more interest to freelance writers. This includes dealing with royalty payments, bartering, personal property and agent fees. My book addresses the universal tax rules as well as the infrequently discussed rules that apply specifically to freelance writers.

Learning how to document expenses and how to track income will give writers the best chance at overall business success.

What are some tax deductions that freelance writers might not be aware of?

There are many tax deductions available to writers. Some expenses are common, such as the cost of purchasing a case of paper or paying for a computer software upgrade. Other costs incurred in the operation of your writing business may not jump out at you as expenses when they could be.

For example, consider the following accounts.

Mileage: Trips made in your vehicle to pick up office supplies can be counted as a business deduction if you record the proper information to support it.

Meals: Treating your agent to a restaurant meal with the discussion focusing on your next book can also generate a tax deduction when properly documented.

Shipping: UPS charges and postage used to mail a query or review copy of your book can be a small expense, but it should still be tracked. Those small deductions add up and every penny spent as a qualified business expense will reduce the amount of income tax you owe.

Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers devotes an entire chapter to expenses including a comprehensive listing of expenses and detailed information regarding what documentation is required to support each one.

I'm sure you've observed other freelance writers making accounting missteps that cost them time and money. What are some of the most common issues and how can we avoid them?

The most common misstep I’ve seen with writers is not taking themselves seriously as business owners. This can lead to financial pitfalls. Many writers have been honing their craft for years so it’s hard to identify an official starting date for their self-employment. Without this point to mark the beginning, it is easy to put off tracking income and expenses. This can be an unfortunate mistake.

The IRS will consider you to be in business when you are actively pursuing projects intended to generate income and expenses. This means they will expect you to file a tax return to report those transactions. Keeping track of your income and expenses from day one will enable you to pay the least amount of income taxes on the money you earn.

Many people find numbers, especially when related to bookkeeping and taxes, intimidating. Will this book make these things easier to understand"?

Yes, my book breaks down complicated number crunching into easy to follow steps. By reading the book, readers will understand why it's important to keep certain receipts and how those pieces of paper factor into the overall success of their writing business. Sometimes knowing the reasoning behind a task makes it easier to complete.

Writers can take advantage of some wonderful tax deductions, but only when they are aware of the possibility and know how to accurately document the expenses. My book explains it all in a reader friendly format.

What are some of the challenges readers face with regards to bookkeeping?

I found the most common challenge writers face revolves around what they can claim as income and what counts as a tax deduction. For example, if their first job is writing the school newsletter, is the money received really income? Do they need to do something with the Internal Revenue Service before they can be considered a business? How do they handle selfemployment tax?

The second most common concern for the freelance writers is related to proper documentation.What receipts did they need to save? How should they be kept? What information needs to be recorded to prove the expense? These are all great questions and they are addressed in the book.

Why is it important for writers to understand bookkeeping?

Writers are earning money and this money needs to be reported as income on their income tax return. If writers do not have any expenses to claim, their taxable income will be higher and they will owe more income tax.

Understanding what can be claimed as business expenses when you are a writer and how to properly document these expenses will help ensure the success of your business.

The most important thing you can do as a writer is to become organized. There are many books available on how to organize your writing, but this is the best book available about how to organize the financial side of your writing business.


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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've loved. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by author names, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the index handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

3 comments:

Beth McGinnis said...

Nice article. Informative for writers.

Gina R. said...

Frequently I send out copies of my book to newspaper/newsletter editors and radio stations. Each time I go to the post office or Fed Ex, the charges are minimal, $4-$6. I don't think much of it. I guess the expenses do add up. I'm going to start keeping track of the cost now. Thanks!

Brigitte A. Thompson said...

Beth & Gina, Thank you for the comments. I appreciate the feedback.

Carolyn, Thank you for the interview. I am enjoying my visit on your blog.