"Roundheads and Ramblings"
Welcome to Katzenhaus Books, where we tell - the stories behind the history.
RSS Follow Become a Fan

Delivered by FeedBurner


Recent Posts

A Tour of Henrietta's Oxford
Launch Day Is Tuesday, September 19, 2017
What's New and What's Next?
Four Days and Counting
Decisions! Decisions!

Categories

A new contest
Abolition
absurdity
academic myopia
Almost Free
Amazon
ancestors
Announcement
apocalypse
Applications and software
Appomattox
Arnulf of Lisieux
art of speaking
attracting readers
audience
audio books
Author Central
Author Gifts
author's Plea
awards
baseball
basketball
Battle of Port Royal
Battles
biographical
blind artists
blockade
blog chain
Book Club Guides
Book Design
Book Launch
book stores
book trailer
bookstores
Boxed Set
bright ideas
Building a platform
business
Business plan
Busy-ness
butterflies
Career choices
cats
celebrations
cemetery research
Census
challenges
characterization
Characters
Charleston
children
children's books
choosing a publisher
Choosing a Title
Christmas Past
Civil War
commercials
Computer Hacks
Confederates
Conferences
Connections
constitutional amendments
construction
Contract labor
cotton
Countdown Sale
Countdown to Launch
Cover Designs
Cover images
cutting and pasting
Cyber Monday
daily drama
daily events
Dead Mules
decisions
depression
diversions
dogs
Do-Overs
DRM
earthquake
e-book pricing
e-books
editing
elevator speech
elmore leonard
Elves and Holidays
Emancipation
England
English class
evidence
Excerpt
exclusivity
Exercise
Expertise
Facebook
fact and fiction
failures
fame and fortune
family affairs
Favorites
Fear of Failure
Fish
flood waters
flowers
food delights
Formatting
Fort Pulaski
free chapter
Free Days
freebies
Friendship
Frogmore
garden
gardens
genealogy
Getting organized
ghost stories
Giveaway
Goals
good business
good news
grammar cops
gratitude
gray horses
gripes
grocery shopping
guest blogs
Gullah
handicaps
Harriet Tubman
Hiatus
Historical background
Historical Fiction
historical puzzlers
historical thinking
history lessons
Holidays
home office
hope and kindness
horse races
horses
hurricanes
identifying your audience
illustrations
imagination
indie authors
Inspiration
inspirations
internet
internet history
intruders
ISBN
Kalamazoo
karma
Kindle
Kindle links
Kindle rankings
Kindle Serials
kings
Klout
Ku Klux Klan
Lack of co-ordination
landmarks
language
Laughs
launch dates
Laura Towne
Layouts
legal matters
lending library
Lessons learned
lessons unlearned
libraries
literary genres
local news
love story
making choices
Marketing
Matchbooks
medicine
medieval-isms
Meet the Characters
Memorial Day
memories
Milestones
military matters
mind-mapping
Misfis
Monthly Musings
name recognition
NaNoWriMo
Nellie Chase
New Blog
New Book
New England
New Research
New Year
newsletters
nonfiction
non-profits
nostalgia
Nurses
oddities
odds and ends
olympics
omens
opening lines
outrage
Oxford
Papacy
parties
Penn Center
photographs
picture book
Pinterest
Pinterest and copyrights
Pirates
planning ahead
plot
point of view
polite society
politics
portraits
powerful women
Predictions
pre-orders
press release
previews
pricing
Principles
procrastination
productivity
Profiles
Progress Report
Promotions
proofs
pros and cons
publishing
publishing companies
publishing ploys
publishing rights
pure sentimentality
puzzlements
quiz
rain
random thoughts
RBOC
read an ebook
readership
recipes
Reconstruction
Relaxation
research
Resolutions
reviews
road trip
rough draft
Roundhead Reports
royalties
rules
SALE
Sales
scams
schedules
Scoop It
ScoopIt
seasons
Secessionville
second edition
Second Mouse
self-publishing
settings
Shiloh
Short Stories
Silliness
slander
Slavery
small world
Smile of the Day
snow, living in the south
social media
software
software disasters
South Carolina
Speechless!
sports
Spring
story arc
Substitutes
Success
summer
Synopsis
Taking a Break
Taxes
Thank You
the difficulties of blogging
The Gideonites
Theme
Tongue-in-cheek
Traditions
trailer
Travelog
trilogies
trolls
Tweet
Twitter
Upcoming Events
using commas
Vacation
vacation photos
Valentine
video
Visitor
vocabulary
Volunteering
voting
warnings
weather
weather trauma
website
word counts
Word-of-Mouth
Words
Words of Warning
Writer Beware!
Writer's Block
Writing Advice
Writing as Career
writing process

Archives

September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010

powered by

"Roundheads and Ramblings"

January 2012

Have You Counted Your Newest Little Tax Deduction?

Writers frequently compare the process of writing a book to giving birth.  I know a lot of moms who would dispute that, but it is rue that the process can be almost as painful.  Nevertheless, seeing a new book on the book shelves for the first time is terribly exciting.  New authors are justifiably proud of their new "baby."  They ssometimes forget one final point of comparison. The new book baby also comes with a tax deduction if the author is prepared to claim it.  Here are some of the little things that are easy to overlook.

Be sure to keep track of all expenses for office supplies—pens, pencils, notepads, printer cartridges, diskettes, scotch tape, paper clips, file folders, labels, a calendar, an appointment book, scissors, a rack to hold current file folders. You can even deduct the cost of air, if you buy it in compressed form and use it to clean your keyboard. (I use mine to chase the cat off the desk, but the principle is the same.)

Think advertising. Anything you have printed with the name of your company or the name of your next book can be deducted as an advertising expense. Of course you’ll have a supply of business cards, but you can also use the same size card to announce an upcoming book. (I had some printed with a picture of “The Second Mouse” on them. I have a second set of half-size business cards with photographs of Beaufort, SC, on them to advertise my next novel, The Road to Frogmore.) Both were deductible, as are bookmarks that match your book covers or brochures telling dealers and bookstores how they can order your books.

Much of your book budget will go for travel—to research libraries, book signings, or writing conferences. If you travel by car, you can deduct the exact mileage, as long as you keep a log or record of the odometer. You’ll be asked for details of the car’s purchase price, its year and model, its VIN, and its total mileage, so keep them handy. This year you’ll be able to deduct 50 to 55 cents a mile if your travel is purely for business. I bought a magnetic company sign for under $10.00. On business trips, I slap that on the front door of the family sedan and turn the entire trip into a business expense. You can also deduct hotel bills, parking fees, and bridge or road tolls if you keep records.

If you want to learn more about tax deductions for writers, see the second chapter of The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese.

Take a Lesson from a Cat; Hire a Staff


Common explanation of the difference between a dog and a cat: Dogs have masters. Cats have staff.  If you're going to run a home business, you'll need to start thinking like a cat.

Self-publishing is something of a misnomer. The process of taking a book from first idea to a spot on someone’s bookshelf requires the help and talents of many people. The work used to be done by huge publishing houses. When you decide to self-publish, the responsibility for all the many tasks involved falls squarely on your shoulders. You are already the author, the editor-in-chief, and the business owner. You cannot hope to sit isolated in your little home office and do everything yourself, no matter how talented you may be. The success of your book will depend upon how well you assemble a team of assistants. Here’s a look at the staff I have assembled. Perhaps it will give you some ideas.

My most important hire was my husband. Of course he was already on board to give me moral support, but as time went on, he took upon himself three important roles. First, he is my travel agent. Once I decide on the need for a research trip or agree to do a talk, a book signing, or a conference appearance, he takes over. He plans the itinerary, books our accommodations, and provides the transportation. Second, he is my mail clerk. He’s much better than I at packing and wrapping, and he never seems to mind a quick trip to the post office. I can count on him to mail single book purchases or handle large book shipments. And third, he is my official photographer. Whether I need a special shot for an illustration or some general pictures to help me set a scene, he is there with his camera. You can see a sample of his work on the cover of Beyond All Price. He also comes with the advantage of being inexpensive. His salary is $1.00 a year, augmented by clean laundry, home-cooked meals, and endless affection and gratitude.

My business plan recognized that I would need to hire a design artist to create the book cover and a layout expert to make sure that the final book meets the exacting standards of the publishing world—page numbers, attractive fonts, spacing, chapter titles, and flourishes all in place. Since both those areas are way beyond my expertise, I hired both functions through the production company who contracted to produce the physical book.

I found another source of staff members at a company called Vistaprint. I got started there by ordering my first business cards for Katzanhaus Books. From that one order, I learned about their other great promotional items and ended up buying a magnetic sign for the side of the car, postcards, brochures, a tote bag, and several other items with my own logos on them. Then I found that they also provided hosting for websites and blogs, as well as domain names and e-mail addresses for companies. I was able to use their services for all my promotional and web-based needs.

To learn more about my staff, see Chapter 2 of The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese

Some Recipes Are "Older than Dirt"

So much has been happening this week that I've fallen a day behind in my scheduled blog posts.  Here's Thursday's entry featuring Civil War recipes.  I'll catch up with "The Second Mouse" later today.

Nellie Chase’s inspiration to learn more about cooking for an army on the move came during a train ride. At one relay station, a group of volunteer women had set up an outdoor kitchen to provide hot, home-cooked meals to the soldiers passing through. The following passage comes from Beyond All Price, Chapter 4.
 
Looking around, she noted how the soldiers, almost to a man, had perked up. They were smiling, laughing, relaxing. Mentally Nellie made a note. I won’t be able to see the men fed like this often, but I must try to come up with some sort of treat for them now and then, she thought. I’ve heard an army marches on its stomach, but I never realized how true that is.
 
It took several hours for the baggage handlers to unload the train and reload the Roundhead baggage onto wagons. Nellie filled the time by chatting with the women who had provided their meal. One gray-haired lady cheerfully introduced herself as the Widow Barlow. “I don’t have anybody to cook for at home anymore,” she said, “so I enjoy getting the chance here to put on some really big feeds. Who cooks for all these men when they’re in their camps?”
 
“Well, mostly they do their own cooking, which isn’t good, I’m afraid. And at the moment I’m not much help. I can stir up some broth for those who are sickly, but I don’t know what to suggest to the men sitting around a campfire with nothing but a great big pot.”
 
“I can help you there. Let me find a scrap of paper and I’ll give you a couple of recipes that’ll fill their bellies.”
 
CABBAGE STEW

The Widow Barlow called this recipe “older than dirt.”
 
• One head green cabbage
• Salt pork
• Onions
• Stewed tomatoes
• salt, garlic, pepper, ground red pepper
 
Cut the salt pork into small cubes.
Slice the cabbage and onions (approximately 1/2 & 1/2)
If you use canned tomatoes, open the can. If not, cook them well ahead of time.
Fry the salt pork in a large, hot, cast iron pot until well browned. (Do NOT drain).
Turn the heat down. Add cabbage and cook until wilted
Add onions and cook until wilted.
 
Let cook approximately 1 hour (low fire). Add tomatoes to more than cover. Simmer.
 
You can't really overcook this dish. The flavors will blend nicely the longer it cooks.
Add seasonings. Be sure to taste after adding each time. It takes the seasoning a few minutes to make themselves known. Better to add too little than too much. People can add more at the table if they wish.
 
After approximately 2-3 hours, start tasting. . . . It's the cook's sworn duty to taste test!! If you feel really brave, offer a spoonful to someone else

"The Camp Kettle" for Jan. 25, 1862

"The Camp Kettle" was a four-page newsheet published with dubious regularity by members of the 100th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment, known as "The Roundheads" because of their Calvinist background and their alleged descent from Oliver Cromwell's own troops.

When they established the little paper, they had set out their purpose:

We have little room to spare, and none to waste in the "Camp Kettle," and shall briefly state that it is our intention to publish it as a daily, or weekly, or occasional paper, just as the exigencies of the service will permit. It is our intention to cook in it a "mess" of short paragraphs replete with useful information on a great many subjects, about which new recruits are supposed to be ignorant. We shall endeavor to make it a welcome visitor beside the campfire and in the quarters, a sort of familiar little friend that whispers kind words and friendly advice to inexperienced men concerning the new position they have assumed, and the new duties that follow. Everything relating to a soldier's duty, and camp life, from mounting guard, to cleaning a musket, will be fit ingredient for the "Kettle." Rules for preserving health and cooking rations will be in place, and all sorts of questions relating to a soldier's duty, and his wants, when respectfully asked in writing, over a responsible name, will find an answer in the next mess that is poured out of the "Kettle."

One hundred fifty years ago today,the regiment was camped on the outskirts of Beaufort, SC, and they were finding that they had relatively little to do.  The conversation was of confrontation to come, not current skirmishes. Things were so peaceful, in fact, that family members were able to travel to Beaufort to visit their enlisted relatives. The Camp Kettle for today carried this announcement:

Mr. James Moffat and Thos. J. McKee, of Lawrence couny, Pa., are here on a visit to their sons, who are members of company F, Capt. Cline, of the 100th (Roundhead) regiment. Our friends seem well pleased with their visit, and are out wih the "boys" on picket duty. They "rough it" right well, and if an opportunity should "happen round any where loose," we don't doubt that they would "slip up" within "eye white" distance of the "secesh."

If you want to to learn more about the Roundheads, you might enjoy the $2.99 Kindle edition of A Scratch with the Rebels.


A Hard Look at the Publishing Atmosphere

Once I started working seriously on my Civil War novel, Beyond All Price, I also began looking for ways to publish it. Waiting until you have a finished product just does not work; you have to do your homework along the way. I started with the standard approaches. I found books written in my genre (in this case historical fiction set in 1860s) and checked on their publishers and the authors’ agents. These were names I could at least be sure would be open to the type of book I was writing. To that basic list, I added other publishing houses and literary agents I found listed in such resources as Writer’s Market. I looked up each one on the Internet to find out how they wanted submissions handled. Each one on the list received a hand-tailored written or e-mailed query letter.

Responses were spotty. Almost half never replied. Others sent canned messages: “Sorry. We are not accepting new clients.” “Sorry. We no longer consider unsolicited manuscripts.” Only a handful expressed any interest whatsoever, and they consistently asked for a full description of my platform before they would consider the book. At that stage, I had no idea what a “platform” looked like in the publishing world, so I had more research ahead of me.

Here’s what I found. If you are a household word—a politician, a celebrity, a sports figure, or a best-selling author already—you have a built-in platform: a fan base of people who will buy your book because of who you are. If you’re a hard-working writer, you have to build your own platform. Publishers and agents suggested that I needed the following:
•  A personal website visited by hundreds of readers every day;
•  A blog that had a similar reader base and gathered dozens of comments on every posting;
•  A personal Facebook page, with hundreds of followers and daily postings;
•  A Facebook Fan Page, one dedicated to my writing;
•  A Twitter account, with daily postings and thousands of followers;
•  A LinkedIn account, with multiple recommendations and connections within my professional community;
•  A personal e-mail list of media outlets, bookstores, libraries, and civic organizations, all of which would be eager to do personal interviews with me, invite me as a guest speaker, or host a book-signing event.
 
Fortunately, I'm pretty adept at finding my way around a computer, but I had never bothered to become involved in social networking of this sort. I went to work, particularly at building my Internet resources. These outlets are not hard to use, but they take an enormous amount of time to develop their full potential. I've been working on this platform for about eighteen months now, and my numbers surprise me. I have almost 400 Facebook friends, some 800 Twitter followers, more than 290 connections on LinkedIn, and a website/blog that receives around 200 hits a day. To me, that’s amazing, but the figures are still not up to the five thousand guaranteed readers that most publishers want to see. At most, I have a little soapbox that serves as my platform. But for a self-publisher, that's enough.

Want to know more? See "The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese."