Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Kathy: I'm so glad to meet you Brigitte. I thought we would go for a hike and do our interview out in nature.

Brigitte: That's a great idea, let's go.

Kathy: Here we are at Tallulah Gorge.

Brigitte: This is gorgeous, Kathy.

Kathy: Let's get down to business as we walk. Tell us what Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers is about.

Brigitte: 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.

Kathy: Wow, Brigitte, it sounds like I really need your book. Have you found that freelance writers require a different set of bookkeeping rules than other people?

Brigitte: 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.

Kathy: Sounds great. How do you like this view?

Brigitte: This is awesome. I had no idea Georgia had such beautiful scenery.

Kathy: Let's sit here and enjoy the view. Tell me, 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.

Kathy: Let's walk a bit. 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?

Brigitte: 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.

Kathy: That's a great point, Brigitte. We can walk down to the bottom of the gorge by taking these steps. Do you want to go?

Brigitte: Kathy, 1,112 steps, that's a lot of steps!

Kathy: I'll race you to the bottom!

Brigitte: Are you OK, Kathy? You're breathing kinda heavy.

Kathy: Yea, I'll be fine. Just give me a minute. Let's sit by this waterfall and continue our interview.

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

Brigitte: 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.

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

Brigitte: 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 self- employment 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.

Kathy: Tell my readers how they can purchase your book?

Brigitte: Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers is available through Amazon.com and my publisher www.CrystalPress.org. Any local bookstore can order my book by ISBN-10: 0963212389 or ISBN-13: 978-0963212382. List price is $17.95.

Kathy: Thank you, Brigitte, for coming and sharing your book with us.

Brigitte: Your welcome. I enjoyed our hike, too.

Kathy: Here comes the bad news. Now we have to walk up all those steps to get back to the car.

Brigitte: OH NO!

Kathy Stemke's websites:
Moving Through all Seven Days link:http://www.lulu.com/content/e-book/moving-through-all-seven-days/7386965#http://www.helium.com/users/406242.html
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Katie Hines said...

This sounds like a great book. I consider myself somewhat educated where taxes are concerned, but can always use more knowledge. I plan on buying this one!

Unknown said...

Great Katie. I think I need it too.

Brigitte said...

Kathy, I really enjoyed our walk and the interview :) Such a beautiful area to explore!

Kristi's Book Nook said...

Kathy: Thanks so much for introducing me to Brigitte. I am going to purchase her book through my Amazon account. I was just speaking with someone about finances and tracking my earnings. This book will be a great help.

Gayle said...

What a valuable book!

Karen Cioffi said...


This book sounds like a must for all writers. I'm embarrassed to say, that as a former accountant I've become lax in keeping accurate records - probably because it's primarily expenses at this point...but no excuses!

I think your book would make a very worthwhile purchase.

Great interview, Kathy! I love the personal pictures.

Hey, is that really Brigitte's office?

And, Kathy, I love the scenery where you live - I which I had it here. It looks so peaceful.


Deborah Weed said...

Very informative interview. I feel as though I was on the trek, yet this time metaphorically. . .we all need to learn how to make the journey enjoyable and at the same time profitable!

Harry Gilleland said...

Wow, great interview and great nature walk. Brigitte, your book sounds extremely helpful and well worth having. Good luck with its sales.
I was born and raised in Macon, Georgia. I remember going to Tallulah State Park and taking that walk to the falls as a young boy with my parents. It is a beautiful place. Thanks for reviving some old memories for me, Kathy.



Nancy Famolari said...

Sounds like a very useful book. I agree, the scenery is Georgia is wonderful! Wish I could take the hike with you!

Unknown said...

Thanks for visiting everyone. I have a guest room-you're all welcome to visit!

The Old Silly said...

Very nicely done post. LOTS of valuable and useful info in that book, sounds like! Also loved the pics - Fall colors here in Michigan are in full bloom as well - love it.

Marvin D Wilson

Dianne G. Sagan said...

I loved the walk in the woods. I needed a breath of fresh air. Great interview, Bridgitte. You book sounds like a "must purchase" for any writer. Thank you.

DarcĂ­a Helle said...

Great interview, Kathy.
Brigitte, no doubt your book will be a valuable resource for countless writers. Best of luck!

Donna McDine said...

What a terrific book. One I must purchase. Loved the scenary!

Children’s Author
Write What Inspires You Blog
The Golden Pathway Story book Blog
Donna M. McDine’s Website

Martha said...

Sounds like a book I need to get my hands on. Thanks for the interview. So informative.
Happy Reading
Martha Swirzinski

Unknown said...

Thank you all for visiting!

Helena Harper said...

This certainly sounds like a most useful and worthwhile book to have. I live in the UK and things may be a little bit different tax-wise than in the US, but the examples of expenses that Brigitte quotes all ring a bell with me from the tax seminars I've been to. I think this sounds like a must-have book for anyone starting out on a writing career.