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Introduction to My Accounting System: A CPA Turned Publisher Shares a Find

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Having spent decades in the
accounting and tax profession, I knew that finding the right accounting system
for our new publishing company was crucial. QuickBooks Pro seemed like a good
bet for a small company, but I soon realized it wasn’t enough. Although the
QuickBooks payroll component was wonderful to work with, the accounts
receivable side seemed cumbersome; we needed an inventory component that would
integrate into it, and we needed a system that would help us track and compute
royalties across multiple contracts per book. I could see a record-keeping
nightmare just waiting to happen if we proceeded without those modules.

 

That’s when research through PMA
and AAP led me to a wonderful product called Acumen by Cyberwolf Software (<span
class=95StoneSerifIt>www.cyberwolf.com
).
If only I’d known about it when I started out, I would have set aside the cash
to buy and implement it (about $5,000 for the core system). But by the time I
knew I wanted it, no such sum was available.

 

Continuing my hunt for an
affordable and reliable system that could work in conjunction with QuickBooks,
I found and downloaded test versions of several accounting systems for
publishers. In one way or another, they all fell short of my expectations.
Then, searching the Web one night at home, I found a gem:
AnyBook!—created by a fellow small, independent publisher, Ron Watters of
Great Rift Press. For us, it’s easy to use and powerful, and yet the advanced
features don’t get in the way of a novice just trying to get work done.

 

Instead of boring you with a
lengthy discussion of features (you can view the entire list at <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>www.ronwatters.com/RonSoft.htm
),
I’ll tell you how we installed the system and how we use the various program
components, so you can see if it might be right for you. (Needless to say, I
have no connection—financial or otherwise—with AnyBook! except as a
happy customer.)

 

Tryouts

 

Ron allows you to download a
complete version of his AnyBook Professional system so you can try it out with
your own data. The system comes in four editions.

 

I           invoicing

II         invoicing
with billing and inventory accounting

III        invoicing
with billing, inventory, and royalty accounting

IV        invoicing
with billing, inventory, royalty accounting, and a purchase order system

 

Each edition includes all the
functionality of the edition below it; upgrading to a higher edition is easy to
do without losing any data, and you can apply your payment for the lower
edition toward the higher-level program when you upgrade.

 

For us, the royalty accounting
function was critical, but we didn’t need the purchase order system, so we
downloaded and installed AnyBook Professional III last November. Recently we
upgraded to IV, which added more bells and whistles to the functions we use the
most. The features covered in this article are available in both III and IV.

 

Starting Up

 

The main screen of AnyBook (Figure
1) is the Invoice screen, and it’s the only screen you need to get started. You
can grab a couple of old invoices and begin entering their data to get a feel
for how easy the system is to use.

 

Since most of our sales are to
customers we meet at fairs and in schools who don’t repeat, the quick-and-easy
invoice data entry works well for us. But if you need reports such as Sales by
Customer, you can assign customer numbers and enter data such as discount rate,
contact information, sales tax, etc., for each buyer.

 

Take a moment to look at Figure 1
and my explanations of features a new user needs to know about.

 

Figure
1. Invoice Screen

 

 

 

·
The customer number is only for
repeat customers that you want to do special reports for or store special
information about (such as contact info).

·
You can input the customer name,
address, etc., or, if you have them in another system (such as an online PayPal
order), you can just copy them, right-click on the customer name field, and
choose Paste Copied Address. The same is true for the Ship To fields. What a
timesaver! Conversely, after you’ve entered a customer’s name and address, you
can copy from AnyBook to another program such as Word or your label-printer
software.

·
To get a list for the field you
are in, press Ctrl-L or click on that field’s L button (usually to the right of
the field—a nice reminder that lists are available so you don’t retype
info). For example, in the customer name area, Ctrl-L will list all your
customers so you can pick one you’re focusing on, and in the products area,
Ctrl-L lists your products so you can select the one being purchased. (See the
next section on setting up your products.)

·
Once you have entered an address
and used the Tab key to move through the fields to Ship To, AnyBook will
automatically enter “Same as Billing.” (Because this program was created in the
old days of DOS, you will do well to use the Tab key rather than a mouse.)

·
Use the S column—which is to
the right of Cat#, where you enter Qty and select a product—to specify
why a book left inventory or is being returned to it. S is for sale, P is for
promotion (e.g., review copies), C is for consignment, D is for damaged, R is
for returned, etc. (the full list is on Ron’s Web site and in the Help file). S
calculates a cost; P does not compute any monies due. But in both cases
inventory is depleted (behind the scenes, that is).

·
Discounts can be entered per
product row or for an entire invoice, and you can specify discounts for a
customer when you set up its records.

·
The Consigned checkbox keeps track
of where your books are off premises. This is handy not just for formally
consigned items but also for inventory that lives in employees’ trunks, at
authors’ homes, or at an event that may or may not yield true sales.

·
Each invoice provides a royalty
payment option. Promotion copies and damaged goods are automatically removed
from the royalty equation, and the system allows for other circumstances where
you do not need to pay royalties, such as remainder sales below cost.

·
On each invoice (and by customer
if you like), you can specify whether the sale is taxable or not. Sales tax can
have a default value, and an available option in the current Pro IV edition
lets you keep several sales tax rates in a handy list.

 

Close the invoice after you ship
it. Enter payment when it arrives. Enter notes to further explain the
transaction.

 

Cheat Sheet

 

When learning a new computer
system, I’m a huge fan of the index-card-sized cheat sheet. Here’s our list of
nifty little shortcuts for use in the main Invoice screen.

 

 

<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Press/Select To

<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Ctrl+S Find by invoice #

<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>F3 Filter for
open invoices

F4
Find by name, city, etc.

Invoice
Tools, Filter

Cat#
(first item)+ Filter by book while on a book’s name

<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Ctrl+L Get lists for the
field you are on

<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Ctrl+A Go to a new blank
invoice

<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>{{ }} Print enclosed
comments in a Notes box on the invoice

<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Ctrl+J Display inventory
status for the product name that your

<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> cursor
is on

F9
View print invoice dialog box. From there you can
print the


invoice and the packing list, or convert to
HTML to email.

 

Setting Up Products

 

The Product Information Database
window (see Figure 2) allows you to enter basic product information and start
setting up your inventory. Enter the data that you know; you can go back later
to enter information such as carton dimensions. Because each field is
self-explanatory, I won’t go into the details, but I do want to point out that
standardizing catalog numbers and categories will help cut down on confusion
when you start running inventory and royalty reports.

 

Figure
2. Product Information Database

 

 

Setting Up Royalties

 

At this point, you can function
with AnyBook. You can enter customer orders, print invoices and packing lists,
and all the while, behind the scenes, your inventory and sales data are
maintained for you. The only missing link is computing royalties. Figure 3
shows the Royalty Setup screen. For each book, you can specify multiple royalty
recipients. For each royalty recipient, you can specify:

 

·
an accounting method (cash or accrual)

·
a calculation method (retail
price, net, flat, or profit)

·
a simple or variable rate
structure

 

You also have the option of
removing credit card fees, invoiced fees, or commissions. Although this is
flexible enough for us, some publishers may need more. If you don’t see what
you need, I suggest contacting Ron Watters to find out if AnyBook can provide
it.

 

As with product setup, the Royalty
Setup screen is self-explanatory, and Help screens provide additional
information.

 

Figure
3. Royalty Setup

 

 

Basic Program Setup

 

By now you’ve gotten a pretty good
look at AnyBook’s core functionality. You can see how easy it would be to
parallel your existing system for a week to give it a good test run. Before you
do, though, you should know how to set up the program defaults to match your
needs.

 

Figure
4. Basic Program Setup

 

id=”_x0000_i1028″ src=”../images/image004.jpg”>

 

Figure 4 shows the Basic Program
Setup dialog box (File, Basic Setup). On each tab you can define defaults to
make your work easier and/or set parameters. Most of the screens are self-explanatory.
Here are highlights for each tab:

 

Basic
program setup.
Data points here
cover invoice number, accrual vs. cash basis, invoice terms, English vs.
metric, an option to keep track of paid invoices or not (good to use), where to
back up files (always do this!), and whether you pay royalties.

 

Business
phone, address.
This section is
used for reports. Note that the name you register under is used here. If your
business name changes, you must ask for a new registration code under that new
name, which is easy to do via email.

 

Sales
tax setup.
The place to specify
your primary sales tax rate and set up other sales tax rates if and as
necessary.

 

Date
format and fiscal year.
Here you
specify Fiscal vs. Calendar year, and the date format you prefer.

 

Colors/print.<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> You can change the basic color background for the
Main Invoice screen and turn on AllPrint, a secondary print engine that speeds
up printing on some computers.

 

Payment
methods.
Enter items such as
check, cash, card, and PayPal.

 

Credit
card processing.
If you have a
modem-based (as opposed to Internet-based) credit-card machine, AnyBook can
eliminate the need to reenter credit-card data to run a card (read the Help
screens for more information).

 

Networking/currency.<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> All the Pro editions can share data over a network.
You can also specify a base currency other than the U.S. dollar, if needed.

 

Toward a Better Back
Office

 

Covering every aspect of this
system is beyond the scope of this article. But I hope I’ve inspired you to
take a good look at how you are currently processing invoices, tracking
inventory levels, and reserving for royalty expenses as they accrue. We are
often so focused on the books we publish that we forget to take care of
ourselves in terms of back-office tasks such as accounting and financial
planning. By using a system such as AnyBook together with more traditional
general ledger accounting systems such as QuickBooks, we’ve found that we can
manage accounting functions professionally with a reasonable investment of time
and money.

 

In one of her prior lives,
Diane Tinney wrote more than a dozen computer books and manuals for large
software houses and big publishers. She left the technical world of programming
and her 12-year-old computer consultancy, The Software Professional, for her
publishing company, Keene Publishing (home of Moo Press children’s books),
which will publish six titles in 2005, bringing its total count of books in
print to 11. You can reach her at dtinney@keenebooks.com.

 

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