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Interview: Carol Topp, CPA-Writer

Today, I welcome Carol Topp for an interview, a first for Blog4Writers. She is a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) specializing in tax preparation, small/micro business accounting, and nonprofit accounting. She works from her home office in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Wait, don’t stop reading and run screaming from the room. Carol is also a writer with a heart for helping other writers cope with the business aspects of freelance writing.

Carol enjoys public speaking, writing magazine articles and helping nonprofit organizations. The tag line on her website sums it up: Clear information on unclear topics for freelance writers, authors and self-publishers. She has published a book entitled Business Tips & Taxes for Writers. On her website, she offers a couple of sample chapters at http://taxesforwriters.com/book/.

Have you always been interested in writing, or is this something new for you? Writing books is something new, but I’ve been writing articles for about six years. I realized that I had specific knowledge about business, taxes, etc., that could be helpful to people through publishing rather than just through individual consultations as I had been doing as an accountant.

How did you become interested in helping writers understand the business side of writing for publication? My publisher, Felice Gerwitz of Media Angels, a small press in Florida, asked me! I know it’s unusual for an author to be asked to write a book. I knew Felice virtually(on-line) for a few years (we finally met in person this summer). She had written the first book in a series called Information in a Nutshell entitled Writing and Publishing. She emailed me about writing the second book in the series, Business Tips and Taxes for Writers. My publisher knew I was a CPA and that I had authored a few nonfiction books. She had also heard me speak on webinars, so she knew I can make confusing subjects like taxes and business clear to writers.

When you decided to write your book, where did you turn for help? First, I worked with my publisher, Felice, on the table of contents. Then I turned to my own books, Micro Business For Teens, and used some of that information on record keeping, sales tax, etc. I also pulled stories from my tax and business clients. I also turned to my local writers critique group and editors to be sure if I was being clear. On a few chapters I consulted another Certified Public Accountant to be sure I was accurate. I also did research on websites such as IRS.gov, which no one enjoys reading!

What would you say to a writer considering self-publishing? Self-publishing is a great option especially if you have a niche market, know your market well, and would like the challenge of self-promotion and selling. I’ve been self-published and published with a small press, so I can see the pros and cons of each method. I really like self-publishing, but I write nonfiction, so it’s easier for me to offer my expertise and “sell.”

I saw your book for sale at a conference I attended. I chose not to purchase it because I have my taxes done by a CPA. What would have said to me if you had been standing at the book table that day? More than half of Business Tips and Taxes for Writers is business tips, not just taxes. It has information on easy record keeping, picking a business structure, and lots of stories about writers and freelancers. Even though you have a CPA (and that’s a good idea!), it’s still your business and you are signing the tax return, so it’s important to have knowledge about your business. My best tax clients are those who have prepared their own returns in the past. They understand the lingo and know what data to give me. I can speak to someone who is well-versed in their business at a deeper level and offer specific advice on how to help their business. Business Tips and Taxes for Writers will help you get better service from your CPA.

Business Tips & Taxes for Writers is available for sale on Carol’s site here. She also offers business tips on her blog, Taxes for Writers, http://taxesforwriters.com/category/Blog/. While you’re checking it out, be sure to subscribe.

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