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.