Thursday, January 23, 2014

Royalties with QuickBooks Online Edition


This blog post comes much later than the release of DashBook version 6, which has been available for a while now.  Here is our DashBook version 6 announcement, which includes an option to work with QuickBooks Online Edition (QBOE).


We are proud to offer DashBook version 6 which builds upon years of work and customer feedback.

High on the list of improvements is speed, but we also have added more power and flexibility as well.

For DashBook v6, we restructured the royalty calculation to make it more efficient. Now royalties calculate faster than ever -- as much as 30 times faster!

You can also view order information much faster, especially if you have hundreds or thousands of products. And now deleting an order is nearly instant, no matter how large it is.

Importing sales has also sped up significantly when creating shipments.

But the larger increases in importing speed come from a new feature. Many sales reports, especially in the music business, show very detailed transactions, such that a product shows on multiple rows. You could have only 200 products, yet receive a sales file of over 30 thousand lines. DashBook v6 now has an import map option to consolidate the sales down to fewer rows. Not only will the import be much faster, but everything else downstream, such as working with the order, calculating royalties on it, and even rendering reports will be faster.

All of the DashBook v6 speed enhancements can save hours over time. We've seen it.

Our sales import is also much more powerful than before. Version 5 had a handy Skip Lines feature that allows pulling just certain rows into an order. Version 6 has changed this to Modify Data. You can request rows be dropped based on matching or not matching criteria, and can even replace a cell's content prior to import. This is especially useful when teamed with our new ability to import a single order having mixed "sales channels." For example, Modify Data can change a phrase on the report to match your sales channel phrase, so that the order and royalties understand which line item is using which sales channel.

So with mixed sales channels, a single order can now do what used to require two or more. Easily import sales of different types, such as physical vs digital, with a single import and resulting order.

Did I write Sales Channel? Well, in recognition of how versatile this feature is, we've changed the name to be Sale Class. It's not just for different sales avenues, but many different scenarios which may require a different royalty arrangement.

Version 6 also provides updated import maps for Amazon Kindle, new maps for Barnes and Noble Nook, The Orchard, Gardners, and more. If you use a common distributor sales file that we don't provide an import map for, let's add it so everyone can benefit.

Our order import, which pulls in multiple separate orders from a single file, has also been enhanced to use a contact's new default sales commission, which was critical for one of our clients handling distribution.

Royalties: While we formerly had a Less Other amount which was a fixed value per unit sold in your currency, version 6 now gives the option to take a percent off instead. So if you need to deduct 30% extra prior to calculating your royalty percent, this will be straightforward now.

If you have ever told DashBook to record a bunch of royalty payments, only to later realize that you used the wrong date, DashBook v6 now has a bulk payments delete option which will make you happy.

Reserves: DashBook never handled reserves before, but we have this as an optional module today for those who need it. Need something special? We can do it.

The QuickBooks Integration module has been great for getting data back and forth between DashBook and QuickBooks, but that only worked for the QuickBooks desktop edition before. Now in version 6, this optional module can communicate with Intuit's QuickBooks Online Edition.

Reports: We have tweaked a number of reports. One new entrant is an Inventory Sales report.

And for distributing reports, we finally have Batch Email in the system as a beta feature pending more usage and feedback. To circumvent spam walls, you provide your email server information for DashBook to use in sending out reports.

And many more minor changes:
Do you use DashBook's database backup ability? We've made that much better with a very simple change - the option to append the date to the file name so keeping track of database versions is a lot easier.

The selection list on the product screen is now sort-able and includes name, title, publication date, and default product code. This makes it easy to see all products of a given title, for example. Some of you have this already.

We have plans for many more improvements to DashBook version 6, and hope you'll join with us on this journey.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

ISBN, ASIN, ISRC, and other codes

Products need unique codes to identify them.  Why?  Well, people tend to use the same product names as others, so that isn't very good in differentiating one product from another.  In fact, in some businesses, all products may have the same name, but differ in other attributes such as sub-title, version, mixer, etc.

When you sell your products through distributors, other vendors, or over the internet it becomes important to use the standard product codes available there.  Many distributors will require it.

Most people have probably heard of ISBN.  That's a book code, right?  Yes.  If you are in the music industry, you might recognize ISRC as the code relating to a recording such as a track on an album.  ASIN?  Amazon decided to setup its own unique coding system that goes across all of its products, not just books.

So when you are selling your product on the internet using multiple services, you very well may end up with more than one product code for the same product!  Now you will receive a sales report from one source referring to product X, while another source indicates how many of the same product was sold, but refers to it as Y.  That could be tricky.

Fortunately, DashBook Royalty Pro can handle multiple code styles for each product.  So your book can have an ASIN, a pISBN and an eISBN (made-up variations of ISBN to indicate the difference between print and electronic).

Then when you instruct DashBook to import sales from a given sales report, you simply use an import map (relates columns in the report to DashBook data fields) that points to the proper DashBook field.  So your Amazon Kindle import can perform matches on ASIN, while your Lightning Source refers to ISBN.

Similarly in the music business, you can have an ISRC for your tracks and an SKU or Barcode for your albums or releases.  Our import mechanism might seem complex, but it is a simple relationship that directs report columns to DashBook terminology.

Do you have extra codes like Catalog Number?  No problem.  You can go to Setup->Products->Product Code Types and add your own type to your DashBook system.  On the Product screen is an All Product Code Types link where you can see all of the codes for a given product.

This all can be a bit daunting for someone new to the industry, but a lifesaver for those who have to deal with this real world.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Royalties for QuickBooks

DashBook version 5.2 has just been released!

In addition to providing additional report enhancements, the big news for this version is the new ability to create royalty checks directly into QuickBooks using our optional QuickBooks Integration Module.  Now you can pull QuickBooks invoices into DashBook, calculate the royalties using DashBook, and then create royalty checks in QuickBooks.

You can do all of this without any exporting or importing of interim files, since DashBook communicates directly with QuickBooks using Intuit's API (programming interface language).  The advantage of using the API is that QuickBooks can monitor what is being written so that it could complain if any data uploaded was not following the correct format.  This gives instant feedback that what we do is correct.

There are some details in the process, of course.  Within DashBook, you would first mark all of your royalty payments that you are paying as paid.  Then you can instruct DashBook to create QuickBooks checks for all payments within a particular date range.  Aside from providing the start and end dates, there is nothing more to do but click a button to do all of the work.

Of course, you can still import sales from other sales reports, such as Amazon Kindle, Ingram, etc.

Our enhancements to DashBook come from users like you.  If you have some special calculation, reporting, or integration work that would make your life easier, contact us.

We can help you.






Thursday, November 8, 2012

DashBook Pro Version 5.1

We are pleased (and relieved) to announce the release of DashBook version 5.1!  We have been working on this one since prior to the release of v5.0 in the spring, and thank you for all of your help.  Many of our clients have worked intimately with us, and have been enjoying some of these changes already.

What's new?  Many things, but here are some highlights:


The biggest change for v5.1 is better support for multi-users.  With this came very significant internal changes, one of which results in really fast order deletion, as an example.

Another huge addition is that you can now have default royalty arrangements, so simply linking a royalty holder to a product can automatically connect a default royalty, saving time.
Our optional QuickBooks Integration Module has major additions.  It now has an ability to start with an empty QuickBooks company file and batch create all of the DashBook products into it. You can now retrieve QuickBooks customers and products to create those within DashBook, and directly batch import a range of QuickBooks invoices to create corresponding DashBook orders.  As before, these communicate directly with QuickBooks, so no need for interim disk files.
With the improvements in multi-user functionality, we are also presenting new multi-user pricing.  You can now upgrade to a multi-user system in smaller bites, so now is a great time to add an extra user to your system.

We have done a lot of work to make DashBook better, but there are always more things to do.  We are available to customize your system for the perfect solution for you (add a feature, customize a report, make anything faster, etc.), which is how many of these changes came into being.  Although our list of ideas seem infinite, we like your direction.

Thank you very much for your support!

Cheers,
The DashBook Team
www.DashBook.com

Monday, March 12, 2012

DashBook Royalty Pro version 5

DashBook version 5 has been released!

Here is most of an email sent to our customers:

Good Day:
We are proud to announce DashBook version 5.  It has been a long time since version 4.0, but we made many improvements to v4 over its life from v4.0 through v4.5.

Version 5 will save you more time.  It loads faster so that you can get to work sooner, and many screens open and operate faster.  The royalty calculation is faster as well.  The report window - not so much, yet.

New for DashBook version 5 is our optional QuickBooks Integration Module.  This is an optional add-on to DashBook for communicating directly with QuickBooks - no interim importing or exporting files.  For this first release, DashBook can create an order directly into your company file as an invoice.  Since DashBook already imports your distributor and vendor sales into a DashBook order, you can now get that into QB without duplicating effort.  Go from double-entry to zero entry!

Another huge change is the introduction of a new entity - a Title property.  Each product now belongs to a title, and if you were recording payments to a product before, you'll record payments to a title in version 5.  This will make it much easier to handle product variations.  You can keep each product separate, with its own format, pricing, and royalty structure, then record payments to the title as a whole.  Of course, each product could be a separate title, so there is no loss in functionality either.  A win-win.

Have you been annoyed that your royalty holders have to all be called an author/artist?  This has been remedied in v5.  The Setup->Contacts->Contact Types now has a Royalty attribute so that any contact type can participate in royalties.  You can create a contact that is just an illustrator, editor, songwriter, etc., and not have to pretend that they are something else.  All contacts that can receive royalties will be available to connect to products and royalty arrangements.

Version 5 also starts down a complex road to simplify your work further.  We've added a feature to download sales reports directly from vendor sites.  This is difficult work for us, because as you can imagine, no two websites are the same.  To start, we include:  All Romance, BooksOnBoard, and BookStrand.  You can not only have DashBook login and download your sales report, but also kick-off the import for you as well.  We'd love to include more of these, but they are expensive to implement.  Feel free to throw us incentives!

The above are some of the largest changes, but we've done a lot of tweaking as well.  Imports have continued to be improved (more setup importing, import a net price while retail is zero).  MasterShare fractions for music.  Fractional sales quantities along with a new service invoice.  Upload a single royalty holder's report to Box or Google Docs.  Combine all royalty reports into a single PDF.  A new Products and Royalties Checklist report for finding products that are missing royalty connections.  Royalty Detail by Title report.  ONIX report work-in-progress.  Royalty Summary report from the Pay Royalties screen.  Better search field on Product screen....

Yes, a lot of improvements.  And of course, we expect more improvements in the upcoming weeks and months.

Please order your upgrade now.

This is a limited time price discount on upgrading.  Feel free to buy the upgrade today and wait until later to install the new version (you will receive a new registration key and download instructions after purchase).

If you would like to upgrade to our network version, please contact us.

With your upgrade to version 5, you will continue to receive superlative support.  In order to keep our costs and your prices down, version 4 support is being discontinued.

Thank you for supporting us so that we can keep helping you!

Sincerely,
The DashBook Team

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tough times for publishing?

The official letter has now gone out that Ron Watters is discontinuing support of his popular AnyBook royalty software system.  In this letter, he states that he has experienced an economic downturn for the past few years from which they have not been able to recover.  Graciously, he proffers DashBook as a good alternative to AnyBook, and notes that AnyBook data can be imported by DashBook to help with the transition.

A few years ago, Publishers Assistant aka pubAssist discontinued selling their royalty system, although they will provide support for an ongoing fee.  They said that the world has changed, and offering a $1495 software solution is no longer accepted.

How has DashBook been doing?  During this time, we've been growing, perhaps to the detriment of our competitors.  We have no desire to put other products or companies out of business, but we have a strong desire and push to create the best royalty accounting system available, and at an affordable cost.  At only $495, DashBook bests the others in price in addition to the extra benefits to the publisher of its advanced features and functionality.

Our DashBook version 4.5 is the best software available for companies not willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a royalty solution.  In fact, in many facets, DashBook is better than some of those as well, and we're not finished with our ongoing improvements.

Sales of DashBook have been growing, as have the businesses of many of our publishing clients.  The publishing world has been going through massive changes, but nimble companies can make the best of a situation.  For instance, E-book sales are skyrocketing!

This means that many more publishers now have to deal with multiple formats of their titles.  To make this even easier, we will soon introduce DashBook version 5 that builds upon the success of version 4.

We're here, and we're growing stronger to help you even better!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

PayPal discontinues MassPay

Normally when someone who is evaluating DashBook asks why they cannot send out royalty payments directly via PayPal through our software, it is because they simply did not set it up.  It is a very quick and easy procedure consisting of logging in to one's PayPal account and requesting API signature information which provides the credentials that DashBook needs to communicate on behalf of their business account.

PayPal's MassPay does not work with personal accounts, so an upgrade to Business or Premier might be required.  Why does DashBook use PayPal's MassPay system for electronic payments?  MassPay is a great way to handle paying a handful or hundreds of royalty holders at once.  It also fits nicely in the business model, as the sender pays a fee that is comparable to or cheaper than mailing costs, and the recipient receives the full funds without additional fees removed.  Other methods of PayPal payments would have the royalty holder receive less than the royalties due.

PayPal MassPay has been a great system for DashBook users, who are primarily book publishers and music labels right now, although of course our system handles many more businesses interested in tracking royalties and licenses.  It is very simple and easy.  One screen shows all of the royalty amounts owed for the period chosen, and one click can fire off all of the payments and record that information into DashBook for account balance purposes.  Life is good.

So when one of our new book publishers started asking about her inability to use PayPal, the answer seemed obvious.  "Go to this PayPal website page to get your account information; paste it here in DashBook."  Ah, but not so easy this time! Her PayPal system didn't have MassPay activated, and calls to PayPal resulted in her telling us that PayPal has discontinued MassPay for all but huge corporations.

What?  Isn't PayPal for the little guys who don't already have large systems setup?  If your company is already large, wouldn't you have EFTS (Electronic Funds Transfer - like direct deposit) to handle all your needs?

Well, after spending hours on the phone with various PayPal personnel, it looks bad.  Whether their decision is due to "abuses" or "high risk" (their terms), they have indeed disabled MassPay from the majority of their accounts while leaving it intact for a handful of large multinational corporations.

This is huge news.  Why isn't there outrage everywhere today?  Maybe because they did this months ago, and perhaps our clients that use this feature only pay quarterly or semi-annually, etc.
[Edit:  It appears those using it regularly have been grandfathered.]

What did PayPal recommend that we do?  Trash our MassPay API program code, and rewrite it for their alternative Adaptive Payments style, which puts the burden on the recipient for the fees -- and those fees are much higher than the $1 USD cap that MassPay has.

If you've used MassPay, contact PayPal immediately to see if they will re-instate your account. [Edit: First go to your account, select Send Payment, select MassPay, and see if yours is disabled.]

If you have experiences about this, please reply to this post so that we can all learn.  Unfortunately, change is not always for the better.