Fri 22 Feb 2013
Longterm readers of my blog(s) will recall (perhaps with fondness, or the kindly shake of the head whilst they skip about in the daffodils ’cause they did their tax already) my ongoing Accounting Saga. There tends to be a flare up about yearly, ahead of the tax season, as I grapple with yet more spreadsheets that don’t balance, or some new forensic audit for a new system that will definitely absolutely once and for all sort out my financial recording woes.
It’s that tiiiime!!!!
Now with added bonus New Drama!
Let’s see. I should catch you up first. See. I want to be able to apply for Arts Grants. I *should* be applying for Arts Grants. Arts Grants are the holy grail. With an arts grant, I could pay those who work for TPP the real actual monies they are worth. I could pay full pro rates for writers. I could have an actual marketing budget (imagine not having to bake a zillion cupcakes the night before a book launch. Oh my!). More importantly, with an arts grant I could afford to do the things I believe we need to do for the Next Step (TM). Which is: Grow.
Applying for arts grants as a publisher seems to be a little bit more tricky. Firstly, you have to be an incorporated body. So last year, we incorporated. I think that cost about $500 in fees but I’d have to check that. That’s when TPP became a Pty Ltd entity and I got shares in the company and became a director. Then, you have to register with the Australian Arts Council Literature Board in order to be eligible to apply for their grants. This basically requires you to show that you are a legitimate entity, have a track record of publishing quality material and have established distribution streams and so on. And then, to present a balance sheet ie … and here it comes .. have freshly audited books.
See, ’cause. And I want to just say up front, I’m really busy. I got married last year. I switched jobs *twice*. I published 4 books. I travelled twice overseas. I did *stuff*.
But um. Yes. Of all the things I did, the one thing I did not finish doing was move all my accounting spreadsheets into Quickbooks, which was the free software that came with my incorporating paperwork. I really liked the invoicing ability inside this program and I got that up and running. And it worked ok for some things. But, it turns out that a) forensic auditing of 6 years of records of various levels of perfectionism in their keeping takes *a really long time* and b) the software is not really set up for publishing where you also want to keep track of inventory and the per unit cost make up (it really wasn’t flexible in the per unit cost accumulating over time – like, say, I pay an author the first instalment of an advance 6 months or a year ahead of publishing, and I also take preorders for the book but later on there will be additions to the cost like the rest of the advance, the design fee, the artwork fee and the printing costs and maybe launch costs and various marketing costs). And I also wanted to be able to track projects and their bottom lines versus the entire press’ bottom line (to look at breakeven points for each project vs for the whole press). It’s not really set up for that.
And somewhere along the line I got too busy or distracted to keep up with even the front end of entering records into Quickbooks. And it got to be a big huge mess. Again. WHY DO I ALWAYS END UP HERE?
So you’ll appreciate the hyperventilating, chest thumping and loud sobbing that accompanied the having to get audited aspect of this whole gig.
I believe a text message to my brother-in-law with the question “so is 11 days a reasonable amount of time to get audited in?” kicked this off. He is very lovely and has come to our house twice this week to sit down and look at my numbers and go through my spreadsheets with me. He has approached the Mess with calm and logic, which has been reassuring. He seems convinced that this all could be Sorted out and rational and tidy. (I live in hope. I cling to it sometimes during the nightsweats) And the first step of all this was to pull together numbers for the balance sheet needed for Literature Board Registration.
My exciting news today was all that blood and sweat and tears was worth something!! I lodged all the forms and requirements last night at 11pm and this morning I got word that Twelfth Planet Press was successfully registered! Hurrah! I can’t even explain how uplifted and excited I’ve been all day. I’ve had *ideas* spilling out my ears. I feel completely reinvigorated and reenergised!
Of course, all this is overshadowed by the more painful exercise to come in actually bringing the whole books up to date and neat and tidy. And thus has a whole bunch of complicating factors now – firstly, actually finding an accounting software package that works and/or admitting that I will never fully separate from my spreadsheets and may have to run a software package and my spreadsheets simultaneously to get all the information I want. I really really like to know which projects have broken even, which might break even and which never will. And there’s all kinds of interesting data that you can look at to do with estimating print runs, advances, actions leading to sales correlations, which times of the year books sell better etc etc.
And um … now TPP is a company and that changes things. I’d always operated on the premise that the money I invested in the press I would get paid … at some point in the future … should there ever be funds. But as of March 2012, when we incorporated, there are all kinds of tax implications and you can’t just “take money out” from a company to a person willy nilly. Now I have to look at structure, shares and loans, liabilities and debts and all kinds of things like auditing, annual reports and tax and so on and so on. And a way to somehow be able to get back the money I’ve been investing in this project, at some point, should there ever be money to be got. The pipe dream, eh?
And if we’ve learned nothing else, we’ve learned it’s that the one most important thing in any enterprise is to get the foundation sorted before you run off into the distance. Oh hindsight. You’re so cute.
You know what this all boils down to, don’t you?
Yep. You guessed it.
ANOTHER FORENSIC AUDIT.
But it’s not all bad. I’ve been having to calculate royalties to figure out liabilities – and hopefully next week I will be paying some. This is the first year my authors have earned out their advances. More than one author. More than one book. That’s really exciting. You take your milestones where you can find em.
And the other thing of course – how lucky am I to have such a lovely brother-in-law!