Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Research Trips

Photo by Marc Weiland 

You've heard the old adage, "Write what you know" and in the past I've posted about things to do to branch out and expand what you know. You can read about that HERE.  Another way is through travel. Many authors I know like to go to the country or city their story is based in to get a feel for the culture, the lay of the land and even the food. I have taken a few scouting trips myself to nearby locations and the experience is always so helpful in making the world I'm building for the reader come alive. One handy thing to note is that as an authors, you can write off many expenses of your research trip as tax write-offs. I asked my accountant to give us a few tips.

1) You can take the trips for business, you just need to document the business purpose.  I would take pictures, make notes by date, document your research of the area/historical facts, the amount of time spent on research, etc.  You need to explain why it’s a business purpose. Be thorough. Keep receipts and file accordingly. 

Photo by Artem Pochepetsky

2) Canda and I are going with some author friends to Europe this coming year and according to the accountant, traveling with other authors is a good way to keep things crystal clear to the IRS that this trip is business and not a family vacation you want to write off. Any vacation type trip could be looked at.  If you are going somewhere that could have significant personal benefit they may look at it.  That’s why it’s important to document the business purpose.  
Photo by Yoosun Won

3) Write the book! The last step is showing that the trip was valuable to your success. Taking a trip to Thailand, then never writing the local into any book is a red flag to the IRS. The story needs to be written and in the process of publication, ideally within a year of the trip. 

So next time you're planning a new book, try a new location! Go see the Everglades, Grand Canyon or branch further out and go to Laos, or Iceland, just be sure to document it all! 

Happy travels! :)

Have you traveled for a story or have other tips you'd like to share? Tell us in the comments! 

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