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Discussion Starter #1
What does everyone use to track their expenses, earnings, what their books cost/make, etc?

I use trackerbox right now to handle importing all of my royalty statements. I was hoping to move away from spreadsheets for tracking expenses (and since I couldn't find spreadsheets that matched with self-publishing books, mine suck badly). I was looking for some suggestions...
 

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scifi365 said:
I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for but Wave Accounting works in Canada - https://www.waveapps.com/

It's free. There's a small learning curve to getting everything set up but it's a pretty solid product.
I just imported last year's stuff into Wave in preparation for taxes and it's been a great piece of (FREE) software.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've never heard of it, so I'll have a look. I tried QuickBooks today, but it was overwhelming. I feel like I needed to hire an assistant just to get it all set up.
 

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If you prefer software you install on your computer, try:

Gnucash (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android)  www.gnucash.org/

and it's free!  :)
 

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I would also love to discover this however I am afraid that the vagaries of different countries' tax laws would make such a piece of software either too generic or specific to one market only.  However if someone develops a miraculous piece of software that lets you choose the country first (maybe the five most common) and then it automatically calculates the taxes etc, I will be the first in line.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Mike_Author said:
I would also love to discover this however I am afraid that the vagaries of different countries' tax laws would make such a piece of software either too generic or specific to one market only. However if someone develops a miraculous piece of software that lets you choose the country first (maybe the five most common) and then it automatically calculates the taxes etc, I will be the first in line.
I'm not even looking for tax purposes. I'm mostly just trying to organize my expenses, etc in a better way. At this point, I'm seriously considering pen and paper. GASP.
 

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I just finally switched over from spreadsheets to Quickbooks a week or so ago. I agree that QB can be overwhelming to set up (which is why I dragged my feet for a year, even though I've been using it for my other business for several years). I was really happy I did it, though. I hadn't realized before it has a "classes" function that lets me assign income and expenses to whatever classes I set up, so I set up a class for each pen name and subclasses under the pen names for the books (plus a class for "unclassified," for expenses that aren't directly related to a title—like printer paper or my Creative Cloud subscription fee). I can split a deposit or payment among multiple classes (just like I'm able split a payment among multiple expense account types, etc.), so when I get a royalty payment, I just divvy it up across the book classes accordingly.

I'm sure other accounting software has a similar thing (though they might call it something else). It's something to think about when you're evaluating software: "How would I specify which book an income/expense belongs to?"
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Z. Rider said:
I just finally switched over from spreadsheets to Quickbooks a week or so ago. I agree that QB can be overwhelming to set up (which is why I dragged my feet for a year, even though I've been using it for my other business for several years). I was really happy I did it, though. I hadn't realized before it has a "classes" function that lets me assign income and expenses to whatever classes I set up, so I set up a class for each pen name and subclasses under the pen names for the books (plus a class for "unclassified," for expenses that aren't directly related to a title--like printer paper or my Creative Cloud subscription fee). I can split a deposit or payment among multiple classes (just like I'm able split a payment among multiple expense account types, etc.), so when I get a royalty payment, I just divvy it up across the book classes accordingly.

I'm sure other accounting software has a similar thing (though they might call it something else). It's something to think about when you're evaluating software: "How would I specify which book an income/expense belongs to?"
can you sort, then, by expense aka see how much you've spent on a particular book? Trackerbox lets me see what my individual books have earned, but I don't have an easy way to see, at a glance, what a book cost.
 

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I've been using Quickbooks for the past 5 yrs, and it's just way too much for me...I ended up royally screwing things up and it took a lot just to get it so I could get my profit/loss statement for this year's taxes correct (my fault, obviously, but there's just a lot of moving parts). So I went looking, and found SideShark recommended on a freelancing article in the comments. I set it up for my 2015 books in about 30 minutes, and it's much more simple. Can't really track inventory or individual books sold with it (it would be unwieldy, anyways) but I use Trackerbox for that too. The site is here: http://www.sideshark.com/. I think it's really going to work well for me, especially considering how poor I am at keeping up with my bookkeeping...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
JamieDeBree said:
I've been using Quickbooks for the past 5 yrs, and it's just way too much for me...I ended up royally screwing things up and it took a lot just to get it so I could get my profit/loss statement for this year's taxes correct (my fault, obviously, but there's just a lot of moving parts). So I went looking, and found SideShark recommended on a freelancing article in the comments. I set it up for my 2015 books in about 30 minutes, and it's much more simple. Can't really track inventory or individual books sold with it (it would be unwieldy, anyways) but I use Trackerbox for that too. The site is here: http://www.sideshark.com/. I think it's really going to work well for me, especially considering how poor I am at keeping up with my bookkeeping...
I really like Trackerbox for royalties coming in. I bought the program and I'm very happy with it. I've used it for years.
 

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Krista D. Ball said:
can you sort, then, by expense aka see how much you've spent on a particular book? Trackerbox lets me see what my individual books have earned, but I don't have an easy way to see, at a glance, what a book cost.
What I can do is pull up a "Profit and Loss by Class" report, which has a column for each book, and within each column it breaks down the income and then the expenses by category (contracted services, advertising, etc.). Each pen name, since they're the parent classes, also has a column showing the totals for that name, which is a nice bonus.

I can then click on any line in any column to bring up a report of the individual transactions. For instance, if I want to see where I've spent money on advertising and promotion for Suckers, I just double click the amount for that line in the Suckers column, and up pops the list of transactions--where, when, how much, and any notes I made in the memo field.

You can also filter the report (by lots of criteria, not just class), so it would be possible to pull up a report for just one pen name or just one book (but I feel like you'd only need to filter by class if you had so many books that the report was becoming unwieldy, because the unfiltered report does give each class its very own column).
 

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I'm another GnuCash user for personal and "writer business" accounting, and I would recommend it for general accounting (better than paper and pen), but off-hand I don't have ideas for how to set it up for tracking per-book revenue and costs. I started organizing stats from the various channels in a spreadsheet and then moved that data to a MySQL database, and I'm (slowly) developing a Web front-end to that to make it easier to generate reports, add new data, etc. This is less for accounting and more for market/title performance analysis and has no cost data at all -- yet. That wouldn't be hard to add.

I use an older version of QuickBooks for corporate accounting (unrelated to my writing) and I like the idea about using classes and subclasses for tracking per-book. OTOH, I don't like the idea of forking over large sums for software when I'm not earning much from my books (yet... ha ha).

I'd rather shift everything to GnuCash than pay to upgrade QuickBooks, so if anyone has similar tips for per-book accounting in GnuCash, I know I'd be interested and other thread readers might be also. I assume subaccounts could be created for each book but that seems like it might get unwieldy after awhile if I become more prolific in how many titles I release, since I would presumably want both expense and income accounts for each title.
 

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I go the pen and paper method, more or less. Everything else I've tried was too complicated to wrap my brain around. I add up all my monthly totals on a calculator and enter them into a word document. I do the same with my expenses. I don't bother breaking the earnings and expenses down by individual title, just lump them all together. I also keep a separate document to track my ads. It's not ideal but it's all the information I can deal with right now. Eventually, I'll have to move to a more efficient system but I'm putting it off as long as I can.
 

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Krista, this would be a good question for the 'Canadian Author's' thread if you want suggestions from other Canadians as well.

I am just starting so am just using spreadsheets for now but this is something I am interested in as well.
 

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If you use an accountant, you should see what he or she recommends. Some may only work with certain software packages.

For tracking sales and royalties for my authors, I used a DIY spreadsheet for a long time but switched to Trackerbox last year. It's a huge time-saver.

For corporate taxes, I use QuickBooks Online. I hated the software at first, but after being tutored by my accountant I've come around. Someone once suggested that I release a "Quickbooks In 30 Minutes" guide but I don't think it can be covered in such a short period of time. There are simply too many features and too steep a learning curve.
 

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ilamont said:
Someone once suggested that I release a "Quickbooks In 30 Minutes" guide but I don't think it can be covered in such a short period of time. There are simply too many features and too steep a learning curve.
Is it not ironic that they call it "Quickbooks"? :D (I guess in fairness it's quick once you've got everything set up. But the set up is daunting!!)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Carol (was Dara) said:
I go the pen and paper method, more or less. Everything else I've tried was too complicated to wrap my brain around. I add up all my monthly totals on a calculator and enter them into a word document. I do the same with my expenses. I don't bother breaking the earnings and expenses down by individual title, just lump them all together. I also keep a separate document to track my ads. It's not ideal but it's all the information I can deal with right now. Eventually, I'll have to move to a more efficient system but I'm putting it off as long as I can.
I'm seriously considering going to this method. It feels like 1985 all over again...
 
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