1stNews from 1stBooks, December 4, 2002
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
* Editor's Message
* Article: "End-Of-Year Payments: How They Affect Your
* 1stBooks Success Profile: Ron Dawson's Book Receives a
* 1stBooks News: Books at a Discount
* Seasonal and Topical
* Article: "Rewrites Are A Good Writer's Friend"
* Two Major Writing Awards You Can Enter--And Yes--1stBooks
Authors DO Win These Prizes!
* About 1stBooks Library
* About This Newsletter
* Copyright and Reprint Information
We'll try something different this issue. Instead of a
marketing article, we're including an article on taxes for
writers. While I know this won't do our international
readers much good, for the vast majority of you who live and
work in the US, tax articles can put at least as much money
in your pocket as marketing articles, so we'll run one once
in a while.
Also, please note that while we normally send 1stNews from
1stBooks on the first and third Wednesdays of each month,
because the first issue in January will fall on New Year's
Day, we're postponing the issue one week. Look for it on
Wednesday, January 8.
Lastly, don't forget to enter your books into the contests
sponsored by ForeWord magazine and Writer's Digest. Many
1stBooks authors have been successful in these contests; you
can too! Just scroll to the end of the newsletter for
details on entering.
END-OF-YEAR PAYMENTS: HOW THEY AFFECT YOUR TAXES
By Julian Block, mailto:julianblock&yahoo.com
IRS rules can upset your plans if you intend to make end-of-
year payments to move deductions into 2002. Dating your
checks "Dec. 31" does not automatically entitle you to claim
the expenses for 2002, instead of 2003. Instead, whether a
deduction falls into this year or next depends on a check's
date of delivery. As long as you actually drop the letters
in the mailbox in time for them to be collected and
postmarked by midnight Dec. 31, you nail down deductions for
this year, even if your checks are not cashed or deposited
until after the start of next year. That requirement applies
to payments of charitable contributions, medical bills,
interest expenses and all other deductions.
CAUTION. You garner no deductions for this year by mailing
checks that are postdated to prevent cashing until next
year, no matter when they are mailed. Siding with the IRS,
the Tax Court disallowed a deduction for the year of
mailing, stating: "A postdated check is not a check
immediately payable but is a promise to pay on the date
shown. It is not a promise to pay presently and it does not
mature until the day of its date, after which it is payable
on demand the same as if it had not been issued until that
date although it is, as in the case of a promissory note, a
negotiable instrument from the time issued."
TIP. If IRS computers flag your return for examination, odds
are that the feds are going to look closely at large year-
end checks dated Dec. 31. So send such checks by certified
mail. Staple the certified mail receipts to your canceled
checks; the receipts will support your deduction claim.
CREDIT CARDS. Write-off rules can be complex if you pay with
plastic, and the source of the credit card is important.
The rules are helpful when you pay for deductibles like
charitable donations, medical services or business expenses
with bank or similar credit cards issued by third parties
such as Visa and Master Card. You get 2002 deductions for
the amounts charged. It is immaterial that the credit card
bills do not arrive until 2003.
But write-offs are unavailable for this year when you use
charge cards issued by stores and are billed directly. No
deductions are allowed until you pay the bills.
What if you pay bills by telephone or at your bank on the
last business day of the year--in 2002, Tuesday, December
31? Those payments are deductible in the year your account
is debited, meaning that the deduction will be shifted to
2003, if the bank does not actually debit your account until
the next business day--in this case, Thursday, January 2.
TIP. File credit-card slips for donations and other
deductibles with your tax records to avoid overlooking them
at filing time.
Julian Block is a syndicated columnist, attorney and former
IRS investigator who has been cited as a tax expert by the
New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Among his
several books is "Tax Tips For Freelance Writers," which
shows how to slash taxes legally--for this year and for
future years. The regular price is $16.00; your cost is
$9.95 for an emailed copy or $12.95 (in the U.S.) for a
postpaid copy. Send your check to him at 3 Washington
Square, #1-G, Larchmont, NY 10538-2032.
1STBOOKS NEWS: BOOKS AT A DISCOUNT
If you're an avid promoter of your book, you can now buy
copies in quantity, and pay less. Discounts range from 40%
to 70%! This, of course, means more money directly in your
pocket because your selling price is the same while the cost
of your product is lower.
To get a free, no obligation quote for your book, please
send an email to:
1STBOOKS SUCCESS PROFILE: RON DAWSON'S BOOK RECEIVES A PAPAL
"My book, 'Mary, Queen of the Rosary,' was published by
1stBooks at the end of August. I sent a book with my
autograph and a letter to Pope John Paul II at the Vatican
in Rome, Italy. Well lo and behold I received a very nice
letter back from Rome. The pope liked the book! So far I
have sent out flyers to about 25 churches asking them to
post it in the back of the church. I also have sent out
about 50 letters to friends and classmates all over the
country. I am currently asking Catholic bookstores and other
stores to promote my book. I also am sending letters and
flyers on my book to different libraries around my area."
Preview Ron's book at http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/11366
SEASONAL AND TOPICAL
CHRISTMAS, December 25
"Giftedness" by Lynn C. Sherman
"Mary Christmas: Short Stories Spanning Two Centuries" by
Diane Gustafson http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/10749
"Cinjah and the Wise Men" by Claire Munro Morrison
"And the Word Was Made Flesh..." by Bill McCann
NOTE: If you are a 1stBooks author with a Christmas or New
Year's book not listed above, please send your title and
book ID number to
mailto:shorowitz&1stbooks.com?subject=SeasonalBook no later
than December 10. We'll try to fit it into the December 18
issue. If the connection to the holiday is not obvious,
please tell us explicitly.
REWRITES ARE A GOOD WRITER'S FRIEND
By John Culleton, mailto:john&wexfordpress.com
A paradox: Good writers can put together a well-written
document at first draft. They write without much thought or
effort. George Bernard Shaw once compared it to breathing--
done every second of every day without conscious thought.
The spell checker is only to catch typos, and the grammar
checker is ignored.
Yet good writers write and rewrite. They edit every word,
every phrase, every sentence, every paragraph. I am doing it
A small story to illustrate this: At the Sebring 24 Hour
Automobile Endurance Race, years ago, an American amateur
had been invited to drive for one of the British racing
teams. He took the race car out during practice and drove
with great gusto. After two laps he was flagged back into
the pits. When he inquired about the reason the team manager
told him: "Practice is for sorting out the car. You are
already supposed to know how to drive."
Similarly, a writer is expected to have mastery of the
medium. Those who struggle with grammar and orthography
cannot hope to do well. But among successful writers, even
"natural" writers rewrite obsessively. They are not looking
for errors in grammar or spelling. Writers who have not
mastered those basics don't belong in the car, so to speak.
They seek to make the good better--and the better perfect.
It is possible to overedit, to kill the passion and the flow
that first came out of the pen or keyboard. Nevertheless the
good ones edit themselves with great vigor. They know their
own flaws. They kill their brain children. They return the
next day or the next week and reread as critics, not
authors. They calculate the impact on the target audience.
Writing must go beyond correct--beyond stylish--and become
effective. So we edit for effect on the reader. When the
issues are heartfelt, this is often hard to do.
Recently, I wrote an election Op Ed piece for the local
paper. I had a point of view, some issues that were dear to
my heart, and some candidates that I wished to support. But
if I flailed away at the bad guys in the first paragraph, no
one would read through to the end. I discussed the results
dispassionately. I never mentioned the candidates I favored.
I pointed out some flaws in my opponents' strategies. I
offered them helpful advice, stating that if they pursued
their current line they might well help elect an opponent.
In short, I edited myself from the readers' standpoint. I
could have just plunged in with fire and brimstone. Instead,
I disguised my opinion piece as a news article. I killed
them with kindness. I damned their candidates with faint
Why do I write for the "Podunk Herald"? I am a writer and I
write whenever I can. Why do I edit everything I write?
Because I want to practice my art at every opportunity. Am I
a great writer? Hardly. But I am a better than average
writer for two reasons. I have a solid grasp of the basics,
which I credit to a good education and a lifetime of
reading. And I edit everything I write, even email. I look
for correctness, style, and effectiveness in engaging and
affecting the target audience. I must write better every
day. Go thou and do likewise.
John Culleton runs Able Indexers and Typesetters, Wexford
Press, and Rowse Reviews. Visit him on the web at
TWO MAJOR WRITING AWARDS YOU CAN WIN
ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards
"Honoring excellence in independent publishing," Foreword
Magazine's award program recognizes a wide range of fiction
and non-fiction. Authors' cost to enter is $50 plus two
copies of their book and the deadline is January 15, 2003.
For more information, visit
10th Annual Writer's Digest International Self-Published
Writer's Digest is awarding one $2,500 cash prize, nine $500
cash prizes and honorable mention awards to a variety of
fiction and non-fiction authors published in 2000, 2001 and
2002. The entry fee is $100 plus one copy of the book and
the deadline is December 16, 2002. For more information,
AND YES--1STBOOKS AUTHORS CAN (AND DO) WIN THESE PRIZES!
In the most recent round of the Writer's Digest awards,
1stBooks authors took five honorable mentions--not counting
the ones we announced some months back from the previous
round. Yay, team!
Fiction genre, Honorable Mention: Proximal to Murder, by
Eric B. Olsen http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/4060
Fiction genre, Honorable Mention: Jake and Jasmine, by C.D.
Children's genre, Honorable Mention: The Painting in the
Attic, by M. Rachel Plummer
Children's genre, Honorable Mention: Some Things Never
Change, by Charmaine Ciardi & Juliet Raines
Mainstream Fiction genre, Honorable Mention: Nono Silences,
by Jesse Giacomo http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/7628
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