Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Writing the Next Chapter - Recordkeeping for Authors

Now that you are spending money on producing your book and making sales, it’s time to start thinking about recordkeeping for your book business. Even if your writing is a part-time job, it is still a business; you need to report your income and take advantage of expenses related to your writing. You know the tax man wants his share. Clean recordkeeping makes compliance with the tax laws a lot easier.
If you operate your business under a name different from your personal name, consider setting up as a sole proprietor Limited Liability Corporation referred to as a “single member LLC.” Obtain a Federal ID number for your writing business and begin tracking the income and expenses of your business. The state registration fee to set up a new LLC is about $125, plus an annual registration fee ($50 in Georgia). The incorporation documents are filed with your State Secretary of State. An incorporated entity limits personal liability, which could protect you and your assets in case of legal action. The LLC has the option to be treated as a corporation, which requires filing a separate corporate income tax return. The LLC uses the “Check the Box” IRS form to make the election. Otherwise the LLC is treated as a single member LLC with your entity considered “a disregarded entity” for income tax purposes. The LLC is a pass through with your income reported on Schedule C of your personal tax return and the self-employment tax is reported on Schedule SE. You may be required to pay quarterly estimated taxes when you start making a profit.
If you choose not to incorporate and act as a dba “doing business as”, how do you report all this stuff on your tax return? Your income and deductible expenses are reported on a Schedule C on your personal tax return. The primary difference between an LLC and a dba is the incorporation protects your personal assets from creditors or potential law suits that is not available for a dba.
Whether you incorporate your business or not, it is vital to open a separate business bank account and designate a credit card for business use to substantiate valid business expenses. Quality recordkeeping (keeping your personal and business expenses and income separate) will pay for itself if there is an audit by the IRS or state Department of Revenue. If your personal and business finances are co-mingled, the IRS can look at your personal records when auditing your business. Another obvious perk of separating business expenses is being able to deduct legitimate business-related expenses from your income.
Set up a system for your recordkeeping and regularly keep it up to date. Even if you have few transactions to start with, a system set up in the beginning will save headaches later on.
  • Record expenses on a spreadsheet or use an accounting software such as QuickBooks
  • Use an envelope to file all receipts by the month or tape each receipt to a piece of paper and file in hanging folders or in a 3-ring binder. Make notes with the receipts as to the type of expense and the business reason.

There are pros and cons for the various ways to set up your business. A consultation with a small business accountant will be money well spent to get you started on the right track. Organized records will save you money at tax time with your accountant and help you take full advantage of deductible expenses. Look out for the next financial blog for learning which expenses are deductible.
Photo by Byron Small
Mary Rodriguez is the founder and president of HilRod Group, a professional services firm providing financial leadership and specializing in strategic financial solutions. Mary is a Florida CPA and Fellow with the Georgia Society of CPAs with more than 25 years of accounting and finance experience. She holds the degree of Master of Accountancy and is designated a Chartered Global Management Accountant by the American Institute of CPAs. She is an active member of the Atlanta Venture Forum, the Association for Corporate Growth, and The Women's Finance Exchange. She served a two-year term on the Board of Advisors for the Georgia Small Business Development Council. She was recognized by the SBA as Women in Business Advocate of the Year and has chaired CEO roundtables for several years.

Telephone: 404-256-9185

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Audio Books vs. Written Books – Should You Write Differently?

As more and more people discover the joys of listening to audio books, more of my clients are asking if they need to write differently for audio book projects. The short answer, if you're a writer and are wondering this too, is no.

Write in your voice, in your style, and with your words. Write the way you normally write, and let your editor correct your work normally. You do not need to do anything differently unless the spirit moves you to make an audio book edit to your manuscript. One of my clients does that when we do audio versions of his short stories. He wants the stories to be as easy as possible for his listeners to follow, as there is a lot of dialogue in his stories. If you write with a lot of conversations in your creations, you might consider making an audio book edit to your manuscript, too, since the listener cannot hear open and close quotation marks.

The one thing you have to know is that the voice actor who reads your book for the audio book version may make slight word changes, and that's normal. In fact, the best narrators know how to make very small changes that help the listener stay engaged with the story. The changes are not mistakes, they're deliberate language changes that make your manuscript the best possible audio book.

Should your book be available in audio form? Since my company produces audio books, you won't be surprised that my answer is yes. However, here are some things to consider when deciding whether to turn your written book into an audio book:

  • In January, 2011, the Association of American Publishers reported a slight decline in sales of physical audio books, i.e. CD and cassette versions. Downloadable audio book sales were up nearly 10% year over year as sales of books declined.
  • In its 2011 professional survey, The Audiobook Publisher Association reported that audio book downloads represent 36% of dollar volume and 52% of unit sales, with downloadable audio book sales growing 300% in dollar volume the previous five years.
  • In a report issued in September 2012, Business Insider revealed that 78% of the U.S. adult population uses a smart phone or tablet, and the percentage is expected to grow to nearly 85% by the end of 2013.
Smart phones and tablets are changing the way readers "read" your books. E-books are dominating the book sales marketplace, and downloadable audio books are the even easier way for people to read a book. introduced a Whispersync app, which encourages purchasers to buy both the e-book and audio book version, and seamlessly switch from one to the other. Go to bed and read chapter four on your Kindle, wake up and listen to chapter five on your smart phone or Kindle as you work out or commute, and there is no searching for your place - all of your devices know where you left off, and pick up there, no matter which version you're reading.

As you go through your day, pay attention to the number of people you see using headphones or earbuds. They are not all listening to music. Chances are many, if not most, are listening to an audio book or podcast.

If you have written a book or are working on one, don't worry about making any changes if you want to have an audio version available. Simply write, knowing that people will love your book - and your audio book!


Sandy Weaver Carman is CEO of Voicework On Demand, Inc. Her specialty is audio products: audio books, audio learning courses, podcasts. She partners with writers, speakers, coaches, and trainers, taking work they've already done and turning it into a revenue river. She is the author of the award-winning "The Original MBA - Succeed in Business Using Mom's Best Advice" and "Create a Revenue River."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Outline Your Book the Easy Way

In this VIDEO BLOG POST, The Author's Midwife shares a simple process to outline your book.  

A lot of authors have challenges just getting started with their book. Yet, one of the easiest ways to kick off your book writing project is to outline your book. A lot of authors cringe at the thought of outlining their book because they think it's way too much effort. They would much rather just write and allow the story to unfold. However, with a simple outline, you have a road map for creating a great book. 

I have developed a very simple process to help you outline your book. It's as simple as 1-3-3-1. Here's how it works: 

The first "1" is the Theme of your book. Your theme is the answer to the question you will inevitably be asked: "So, what's your book about?" Your answer is the theme of your book. There should be only one theme for your book.

The first "3" relates to the Three Main Points that you will cover in your book. There might be more than three, but try to encapsulate the points into three, then build from there. 

The next "3" relates to Three Supporting Points for each main point. These could be three examples, case studies, or supporting facts.  

The last "1" is the main Takeaway of the book. What one thing should readers get from your book?  

Apply this simple Write Your Life Outlining Process to make outlining your book really easy so you can get started right away with writing your book. 

What other ideas do you have for quickly and easily outlining your book?


Anita Paul, known as The Author's Midwife, coaches aspiring authors to write a phenomenal book and helps current authors use their existing books to leverage their business. She is the author of Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, and is the creator of the Write Your Life program, through which she has created a dynamic system to Write Your Book in 90 Days or Less. She has owned The Write Image for 15 years, and has had her freelance articles featured in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. Anita is also the host of "Book Your Success".

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Basics of Interior Book Design

How do you get a reader to choose your book from the shelf and look inside? An eye-catching cover and tempting title are sure to entice someone to pick it up and turn it over to read the synopsis on the back before flipping through the pages to read snippets of what’s inside.  

Does the inside of your book do justice to the cover? Although most readers don’t know the rules of design, they can tell if the interior pages look professional. Even if your content is valuable, who wants to read a book with tiny type, misaligned graphics, or misspelled words? When you wrote your book, you carefully selected the words to get your message across. It’s important that those words make an impact on the printed page.

Don’t let a poorly designed book damage your credibility.

Interior book design encompasses all the elements on a page that give it style. These aspects include:
  • Choice of font: body text, chapter headings, and subheadings
  • Width of margins
  • Style of chapter headings
  • Spacing between the lines
  • Headers and footers – page numbers
  • Placement of graphics, charts, pictures, or callout boxes
Follow these tips to help you with the design of your book’s pages:

Look at other books and see what you like about the layout. What is the size of the book? Are the page numbers in the header or in the footer? Which font do you prefer? Should your chapter headings be large and fancy, or small and plain? Do the graphics have borders around them? You can save time and money if you have some idea of what you like and don’t like about interior pages before handing your manuscript over to the page designer.

Don’t settle on a basic template. A book designer should be able to customize your interior layout and use the fonts, spacing, design, and graphic elements you want. If you are unable to tailor the page design to your preference because of limitations on the number of graphics, choice of font, or any other element, it’s time to look for another designer.

Ask to see samples of the designer’s work. Ask for references and speak to the designer about her experience working with authors. Look at samples of her work. If possible, use a designer who has been referred by someone you know and trust.

Listen to your designer’s suggestions regarding layout issues. There are a few hard and fast rules for interior page design and a good designer will tell you if you are breaking those rules. For instance, odd numbered pages are always on the right and even numbered pages on the left. On the other hand, some issues are neither right nor wrong, such as the position of page numbers. They can be in the header or the footer.

Your page design can be created in Microsoft Word. A manuscript does not have to be converted to a fancy graphics program for printing. Microsoft Word is adequate for designing a book – graphics and all! 

You’ll be proud when you hold a finished copy of your book in your hands. Make sure that it shines.

Debbie Kerr is a typesetter and proofreader specializing in interior page design. She also designs speaker sheets, postcards, and bookmarks for marketing your book.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

From False Start to Fresh Start

Although any time is a good time for a fresh start, it seems that the beginning of the year is a logical time to start anew with projects, concepts, dreams, or even your book project. If at this time last year you promised yourself – or made a resolution – that you would write and publish your book in 2012, yet your book remains a confused file of notes and ideas in a Word doc on your computer, you are among the many would-be authors who have acquired what I call False Start Syndrome.

This is the condition by which an aspiring author begins, with great enthusiasm and laser-focused determination, the process of writing a book that s/he has been wanting to write for years ... yes years. For some reason, when authors get the notion to write we don't act on it right away. We ponder, procrastinate, doubt, wonder, and question our initial thoughts about becoming an author. This might occur for several months to several years. All the while we jot down notes, record thoughts, write content, and even create a rough outline for our eventual book. Yet and still, time passes, life goes on, and we never actually get around to writing and publishing the book. If this sounds like you, do not fret; you're not alone. Believe me, I understand what you're feeling.

Just because I coach other people to write, publish, and leverage their books does not mean that writing always comes easily for me or that every idea I have ever had for a book has come to fruition. In fact, I have a manuscript for a fiction novel that I completed in 2005 ... yes, eight years ago. It has never been published. I could recount all of the life interruptions that took priority, the new clients I needed to assist, the exciting projects I wanted to focus on, or any number of more important things that came up over the years that derailed my dream of publishing my novel. Yet I would be fooling myself into believing that these things have been the cause of the book not being published. In fact, the true reason is that I got cold feet. Seriously!

I have questioned whether the story is compelling enough, the writing fluid enough, the characters developed enough, and the dialogue true enough. My False Start Syndrome has taken many forms, including almost publishing my novel with a large independent publisher – who shall remain unnamed – just to get it done. All the while I considered working with this company, I had a feeling that something was not quite right. So, I halted the project, put the manuscript away, and went on with life. Now, that thing is nudging at me again, for what is, I declare, the final time. I'm ready to make it happen.

So I invite all of you would-be authors to take a chance on yourself and your dream. Go from False Start to a Fresh Start in 2013. Join me in making the commitment to publish that book that has been on your heart and mind. Just do it. I promise that the process will not be nearly as scary as you imagine; it never is.

Now is the time to recommit to your dream.

In the comments section below, share your commitment to publish your book in 2013.


Anita Paul, known as The Author's Midwife, coaches aspiring authors to write a phenomenal book and helps current authors use their existing books to leverage their business. She is the author of Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, and is the creator of the Write Your Life program, through which she has created a dynamic system to Write Your Book in 90 Days or Less. She has owned The Write Image for 15 years, and has had her freelance articles featured in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. Anita is also the host of "Book Your Success".