Self-Publishing Primer: Part 9 – How do I set up a self-publishing company?

You will find links to the other posts in the series at Self-Publishing Primer.

You’ve written or are writing a book. Now you understand what self-publishing is and you’ve decided to self-publish your book.

Where do you start?

  • Decide what type of business to establish: sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation. Most self-publishers start as proprietorships, but you may want to look different ownership structures and discuss them with your legal and accounting advisors.
  • Choose and register your company name. Although I don’t recommend you hide the fact that your book is self-published, I do recommend you choose a business name that sounds like a business, not the author’s name. You may choose a name that relates to the subject of your book, but remember you may write more books in the future – you may even decide to publish books for other writers – so you don’t want your business name to be too specific. The Small Business Administration’s Small Business Planner includes advice on choosing a name and business structure as well as how to set up different kinds of businesses.
  • Decide on an address and get a business phone line. Although you are probably working from your home, you may want to use a mail box with the post office or with a company like Mailboxes, Etc. or the UPS Store. Not only will such an address protect the privacy of your home address, but it will also look more like a business. And you will need a separate phone line, especially if you are going to take phone orders.
  • Set up a business checking account and a bookkeeping system and apply for a sales tax permit. Your system can be fairly simple – just be sure you have some way of easily keeping track of income and expenses and taxes. If you plan to sell to bookstores or distributors, you will have to have an accounts receivables system as you will be waiting 45 to 60 days (or more) for payment. Check with your state comptroller or the appropriate office in your state to find out the sales tax requirements.
  • Determine how you will distribute your books and what types of payment you will accept. If you sell to bookstores or distributors, you will invoice them for the list price less their discount (usually 40% to 50%) and wait for a check. But if you sell books directly to customers – from a Web site or in personal appearances – you will need to be able to accept credit cards or you will miss out on a lot of sales.
  • Learn about the business of publishing – things like ISBNs, bar codes, and copyrights in Dan Poynter’s The Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book, 15th Edition or from Tom and Marilyn Ross’s Complete Guide to Self Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote, and Sell Your Own Book (Self-Publishing 4th Edition).

For other views on how to set up your company, read the following articles:

The next post will cover copyrights and ISBNs.

[tags]publishing, self-publishing, writing[/tags]

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