bookkeeping for your independent publishing company

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Small Publishers Association of North America

Issue 6/2006

Bookkeeping: Art it Ain't

I finished setting up my digital accounting books for my publishing business today. By setting up, I donít mean caught up. The yearís half gone and Iíve yet to make an entry in my journalóbut I do have a journal to make entries in.

Iím not as far behind as it must sound to those of you reading this article. I have been keeping manual books since taking an online bookkeeping course through my local community college. For you who already keep books, youíve got no problem. All you will have to do is transpose what you already know about bookkeeping into your new business. But for those like me, who have always operated manually, youíve got a project in front of you. Those of you who have a warehouse service need not read any further.

Documenting your companyís fiscal health is a necessity. Keeping up with your vendors, your customers, and your inventory are essential in the preparation of those year-end reports you need to report to Uncle Sam. Some of you may be able to hire a bookkeeping service. Many of you, like me, cannot. If Iím ever to publish a second book, Iíve got to curb costs where I can, and Iíve got to do the work as expeditiously as possible or Iíll never have time to write another book. And writing is the one thing I never want to give up. Thatís whatís driven me to where I am today.

Iíve carefully recorded my transactions for the first half of the year and dutifully closed out each fiscal cycle (monthly) adding up my debits and credits and making sure they always balance. As of this week, Iíll transfer all that back data into my newly loaded Peachtree First Accounting. I picked a Peachtree program because it was one of those recommended by Marilyn and Tom Ross in their Complete Guide to Self-Publishing. First Accounting, however, may be problematical, but only because it does not do inventory. Keeping tabs on the number of books I have sent out on my first print run of only 2,000 booksóI donít thinkówill prove a big problem. I donít know what will happen if I continue to growóbut at that point, maybe success will afford me a bookkeeper of my own. The point Iím trying to make hereóif you can afford itósplurge and get yourself a software program that will handle your inventory for you. If not, you can do what I do and that will probably mean keeping tabs on the books using index cardsóor using a software program already installed on my computer.

Bookkeeping is something you must do. Whether youíre a do-it-yourselfer or whether you are able to hire a bookkeeper doesnít matter. Accounting must be done, so get your company system set up, functional, and up-to-date before your first shipment of book makes it to your front door. At that point you want to be able to enter and maintain your recordsónot be learning how to enter your records.

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