1stNews from 1stBooks, February 5, 2003

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Until Friday, February 14, (that's Valentine's Day just in
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Buying your book in volume is a fantastic opportunity to
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Table of Contents

* Editor's Message
* Article: "Big Tax Break for Self-Employed Writers"
* 1stBooks Success Profile: Linda Patenaude Wins a Book
Competition and a Traditional Publisher
* Article: "Beware of Working Titles"
* Seasonal and Topical
* Letters to the Editor
* About 1stBooks Library
* About This Newsletter
* Copyright and Reprint Information


Editor's Message

First of all, we've been overwhelmed with responses to our
request for case studies. Please, NO MORE! We have enough to
carry us at least through the rest of 2003, maybe longer.
Thank you all for generously taking the time to request and
submit your questionnaires. We're still discussing how to
present them to you, so expect to start seeing the results
of your labors in upcoming issues.

We don't usually run letters to the editor, but this month
we have quite a lot of them. So, we've made an exception. If
you think it should be a regular feature (when we have
submissions, anyway), please click the link to fill out the
survey and let us know.

This Issue
Once again, we'll step back from marketing and give those of
you who live in the U.S. some more tax advice from tax
expert Julian Block. It seems a good time to do it, since
there are so many marketing tips in the letters column and
in this issue's writing craft article!

Speaking of the craft article, it's been a while since we've
had an article from "Mr. Self-Publishing," Dan Poynter. He
has offered us a number of articles, and over the next few
months, you can expect to see quite a bit from the
enormously successful author of "The Self-Publishing Manual"
and numerous other books. He has probably helped more
authors become published than any other human being alive.
This time it covers titles, from both craft and marketing
points of view.


Big Tax Break for Self-Employed Writers
By Julian Block, mailto:julianblock&yahoo.com

[Editor's Note #1: Even if you work at a full-time, non-
writing-related job, by putting your book up for sale
through 1stBooks, you've become a business owner. And that
enables you to take advantage of the tax code, which allows
you to pay taxes on your profit, rather than your income.
Profit is defined as the difference between the money you
earn from your business and the money you spend to earn it.
If you keep excellent records, you can probably lower your
tax liability by many thousands of dollars, just by listing
each expense. If you are outside the U.S., the laws may be
different--and even if you do live in the U.S., it's well
worth it to talk to a qualified tax professional.]

[Editor's Note #2: This article is meant as a guide only.
1stBooks is in no way responsible for the advice offered.
Should you have any questions, please seek the advice of a
qualified tax professional. Employees of 1stBooks are unable
to answer any tax questions.]

If you always depreciate your office equipment, you may be
paying too much in taxes. Actually, you have two choices on
how to write off your outlays for purchases of equipment and
other kinds of personal property, and depreciation may not
be the best choice.

DEPRECIATION. Depreciation spreads your deduction over a
period of years (as little as three years to as high as 39

Freelancers get to depreciate most of their equipment over
five years (computers, copiers and the like) or seven years
(furniture and fax machines, for example). So, the first-
year, you only deduct 20 percent for five-year property and
about 14 percent for seven-year property.

"EXPENSING." Internal Revenue Code Section 179 authorizes an
important exception: "Small businesses" can dispense with
depreciation and elect "expensing," if that is more
advantageous. This tactic entitles them to write off the
entire cost in the first year the equipment is "placed in
service" (IRS lingo for made ready and available for a
specific use), rather than the year it's purchased or paid

First-year expensing is subject to several limitations,
including a dollar cap of $24,000 for 2002 and $25,000 for
2003. But for most writers, that will not be an issue. Also,
you can't use it to show a loss that would otherwise show as
profit, and if you've spent over $200,000 on acquisitions
this year, the deduction gradually decreases. It disappears
entirely at $224,000.

As an example, say you are in the 35% tax bracket. You spent
$5000 on a new computer system and printer in November,
2002. Under the depreciation method, you can only claim a
$1000 deduction, which lowers your actual tax bill by $350.
But by expensing the purchase and taking the entire $5000
this year, you've lowered your taxable income by the full
$5000--and reduced your taxes by a full $1750. Evaluate your
own tax situation and decide whether to go for first-year
expensing. The deadline isn't until the due date for filing,
including extensions.

The election is binding; only if the IRS consents can it be
undone. Mercifully, the paperwork is straightforward;
business owners simply complete Form 4562 (Depreciation and
Amortization), carry it over to Schedule C, and submit it
with their tax returns.

Don't skip that step! A Tax Court case illustrates just how
persnickety the IRS becomes when its instructions are not
followed exactly. A business owner decided to take a
shortcut and not fill out Form 4562. Instead, he just listed
the Section 179 deduction on Schedule C. The Tax Court
agreed with the IRS that he had forfeited his right to
first-year expensing and was liable for many thousands of
dollars in additional taxes, penalties and interest.

EXTRA BONUS. Write-offs for equipment purchases enable self-
employeds to save more than just income taxes. They also
reduce self-employment taxes owed for 2002 on the first $84,
900 of net (receipts minus expenses) earnings, as calculated
on Schedule SE (Self-Employment Tax) of Form 1040.

HELP FROM THE IRS. For more information, take a look at IRS
Publication 946, How To Depreciate Property. Publication
910, Guide to Free Tax Services, lists all of the IRS
booklets. Get free copies of the booklets by calling 1-800-
TAX-FORM (they'll be mailed to you), or call 703-368-9694
for an automated fax service, or download copies from the
IRS website (http://www.irs.gov).

Julian Block is a syndicated columnist, attorney and former
IRS investigator who has been cited by the New York Times as
"a leading tax professional" and by the Wall Street Journal
as an "accomplished writer on taxes." He is a member of the
American Society of Journalists and Authors and author of a
number of books. His "Tax Tips For Freelance Writers" shows
how to save truly big money on taxes--legally--and explains
the steps you should take to reduce taxes for this year and
even gain a head start for future years. The regular price
is $16.00; your cost is $9.95 for an emailed copy or $12.95
for a postpaid copy (in the U.S.). Send your check to him at
3 Washington Square, #1-G, Larchmont, NY 10538-2032.

Rate this article! Click on the link below.


1stBooks Success Profile: Linda Patenaude Wins a Book
Competition and a Traditional Publisher

"Just wanted to wish everyone at 1stBooks a Happy New Year
and wanted to update everyone on my latest accomplishment.

"Back in October, I attended a writer's conference sponsored
by Gardenia Press where two of my completed manuscripts were
under consideration for their annual publication
competition. I am very proud and pleased to say that I was
selected and was offered a contract with them for
publication, which I happily accepted! 'The Art of Betrayal'
which is a suspense/romance is expected to be released
around October, 2003. The second book I submitted is also
under consideration for future publication.

"Needless to say, once I start doing signings, etc., my
1stBooks publication, 'Bury the Innocent' will be sitting on
the corner of the signing table!"

Preview Linda's book at

[Editor's Note: Many people who have published with 1stBooks
have been able to find a traditional publisher by submitting
their published book, rather than the usual unpublished
manuscript. Linda did something different, yet equally
valid--enter a writing competition where the prize is


Beware of Working Titles
by Dan Poynter, mailto:danpoynter¶publishing.com
(c) 2003

"Authors, as a rule, are poor judges of titles and often go
for the cute or clever rather than the practical." --Nat
Bodian, "The Joy of Publishing"

Be careful what you make permanent. Working titles are
dangerous. They can become too familiar to us while being
misleading or meaningless to potential customers.

Choices, a Teen Woman's Journal for Self-awareness and
Personal Planning was a hot seller and spawned a publishing
company as a subsidiary for the Girls Club of Santa Barbara.
The company thrived but soon found that Choices could not be
used in schools unless there was a version for the boys. So
the authors, Mindy Bingham, Sandy Stryker and Judy Edmonson,
wrote a matching masculine edition.

Working titles ranged from Choices II, to Choices Too, and
even Son of Choices. What sounded ridiculous or humorous in
the beginning became familiar and sounded fairly good.

Finally the three female authors settled on Changes, but
found that men did not like the proposed title. After
discussions with a number of men (including Mindy's father),
they agreed to change the title to Challenges, a Teen Man's
Journal for Self-awareness and Personal Planning. The female
authors discovered that while many women want a change, most
men do not like change. Men prefer challenges.

The title must be easy to remember and easy to say. It has
to grab the attention of the potential buyer and it must
project an image the buyer can relate to. Authors and
publishers often argue over titles. Authors may be closer to
the subject matter and publishers may be closer to the

So far Choices has sold over one million copies and
Challenges over a half million. They are used side-by-side
in many schools. A "working title" is for the manuscript,
not necessarily for the book.

Dan Poynter, the Voice of Self-Publishing, has written more
than 100 books since 1969 including "Writing Nonfiction" and
"The Self-Publishing Manual." Dan is a past vice-president
of the Publishers Marketing Association. For more help on
book publishing and promoting, see http://www.ParaPub.com

Rate this article! Click on the link below.


Seasonal and Topical

Valentine's Day, February 14
"A Change Of Heart" by Walter M. Borny, a novel that tells
the story of Valentinus, the man of ancient Rome who brought
love into the modern era.


Letters to the Editor

--Sold as Soon as the Book Arrived

I JUST received the author's issue of my first book with
you. I opened it in the Post Office up here in Kittery
Point, Maine. Squealing with delight, I showed it off to our
Postmaster. Four ladies in the post office have ordered
copies and one of them is going to host a book signing for
me as soon as I get more copies from you. How's THAT for
quick sales!

Sign me delighted,
Joyce. Tracksler, brand new PUBLISHED author of "The
Botticelli Journey"


--Response to the Announcement Last Issue About Our
Millionth Book

In reality . . . we authors thank YOU. Without you, our
dreams would still be dreams. Happy 2003!

Louise Underdahl, PhD, The Soul of Work: A Quest for the


--Newsletter Gives Her Hope

Your newsletter is a blessing for me--I just lost my job
last month--and I've got a manuscript (a children's book)
that I've had for two years and have not had the time or
wherewithal to try to get it published--I truly believe in
my manuscript--your newsletter gives me positive direction
at a time in my life that I truly need it as its a rather
low time for me emotionally--not to mention frightening to
be unemployed--and worried about finances.

Thanks again!

Nancy Christie


--Building Interest in His Book by Offering Publishing

I want to promote my book in a low-key way so I came up with
the idea of preparing a one-hour briefing titled "Book
Publishing Made Easy." I then offer to give this talk to the
many local organizations that have monthly meetings and
invite guest speakers. The talk covers the various ways a
book can get published and then uses my book "Roasts and
Toasts Made Easy" as a actual example.

This results in good exposure for both 1stBooks and my book.
What do you think of this approach? Do you know of anyone
else who has tried it?

Larry Miller



Since 1997, 1stBooks has helped thousands of authors become
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