All Things Writing

The Craft of Writing


QuickBooks for Writers

So here you are. It’s nearly the end of the first week of February and you have done nothing proactive about the accounting mess you pledged you’d clean up. Your receipts are piled up on your desk – a good start – and you have scribbled notes about who owes you what when. You could enter that information into a spreadsheet, but why not enter it into QuickBooks and get some real use out of the information and effort?

QuickBooks is the best-selling accounting software for small businesses. It has more bells and whistles than you probably care about, BUT it does have the ability to track the things you need to track if you think about it before you set it up. What exactly does “think about it before you set it up” mean? I’ve been using QuickBooks for years and have also been QuickBooks certified for several years. In addition, I have my MBA and was a financial analyst and small business consultant for many years. Here is what I’ve learned along the way.

As a writer, you most likely want to know these things on a regular basis:

  1. How much money is due to you? Who owes it to you? When is it due to you?
  2. How much money do you owe? Who do you owe it to? When must you pay?
  3. How much money is in your checking account? How much money do you have in savings?
  4. Are there any charges on your credit card that are related to your writing business.

Let’s tackle the first one – how much money is due to you – in this post.

How much money is due to you is also known as your Accounts Receivable. The total of your Accounts Receivable is the total of the money due to you. The tricky thing with writing is that you don’t always know a definite payment date since it is often “upon publication.” For me, that makes it easy to overlook a Receivable – something I do NOT want to do.

As a way around that, when I submit a query to a new client, I create a Customer Record for that client. It takes very little time. All I do is put in a name, address, and other contact info. In the notes, I put some information about the query itself. This way, if I get the assignment, I can go on to the next step. If I don’t get the assignment, I can make the customer inactive or delete it entirely. For the time from the query to the response, I have the potential client in my system – safe and sound where I can’t lose it!

When I get the assignment, I create an Invoice. The invoice may or may not be the one the client wants from me – if they even want one from me. Very often they send a contract and I sign and return it. My payment comes without an Invoice from me. So why create a Contract? Because it takes very little time but yields a bunch of useful information for my purposes. Plus, it sits there with the potential due date, letting me know when that date is approaching so I can watch my mailbox and follow up if necessary.

What information can I get from the invoice? I can tell what sort of writing paid me the most, if that is important to me. I can tell which Clients paid me the most. I can keep track of my time if I’d like, and see which writing was the most profitable.

For me, the most important part of entering the information and creating an Invoice is that I have one place to look to see who owes me money, and a system that keeps track of when it is due without any additional effort on my part.

Related Posts:
QuickBooks for Writers – Getting Started