Record-keeping

Organization for your project started when you were in the planning stages and you began to chart production flow in order to be able to schedule things properly. It continued when you shopped around for a printer and went forward into the marketing, promotion, and distribution phases. Hopefully you bought a planner/calendar or PDA early in this endeavor and update and check it frequently.

You may not be aware of the many tools to help people keep track of work flow and expenses, but whatever you use, good recordkeeping is vital. Investing in a file cabinet, bookshelves, and folders is the first rudimentary step. Every penny that you spend for supplies, not only to create the project but also to manage the business end of it, is tax deductible.

A bulletin board where you post notes and memos, hung in a prominent place, is a good way of keeping things that need your immediate attention. After a while you will more than likely use the same software or ledger book to record income derived from book sales. Don't forget that the following should all have a file folder to track expenses for tax deductions or just to be at hand for easy reference:

  • Notes and ideas concerning the project. Having a folder where you can file notes, inspirations, and sudden insights saves time and feeds the muse.

  • Business receipts. Reference materials used in the creation and/or marketing of your work are tax deductible. Office equipment such as furniture and computer equipment can be deducted and/or depreciated, too. Your receipts folder should ideally have subfolders or divisions within it that designate categories such as office supplies, art supplies, utility bills, and postage.

  • Information on printers. This should be kept with quotes for the book and promotional material plus notes you made during contact.

  • A list of comics and graphic novel-related Web sites that are of particular interest to the project.

  • A list of contacts that have not only street addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses but also the name(s) and business titles of contacts. This list is easily kept on the computer, but a hard copy should always be printed and stored in a safe place.

  • A list of places to market and promote the book derived from the Web and other sources.

  • A list of distributors, with details of their terms and conditions.

  • If you use bookkeeping software, inputting this data every month is a good backup in case a receipt gets lost or misfiled. It is also great to have this data in a program such as Excel or QuickBooks when you do your taxes. In any event, if you don't use a software program to track expenses and income, this information should be recorded in a ledger book where you make a record of monthly expenses.

    Thorough record-keeping saves hours of lost time that you can put to better use. Most importantly, always back up computer files onto a separate disk or hard drive. You'll be glad you did, because it is worth the time and effort to achieve peace of mind.

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