The title of this post is a little misleading. When you get right down to it, everything you do to create, promote, and sell your work is business related. What I’m writing about today is the stuff most of us don’t want to spend much time thinking about. The legal and monetary nuts and bolts.
Among all the other activities of self-publishing — writing, editing, formatting, designing a cover — there are the business decisions. Most of us, I suspect are focused on the hands-on, day-to-day, just get it done stuff. Our lives are full and busy, and it’s almost all we can do to find time to write, let alone think about trademarks, logos, and business structure. But the underpinnings of business are important too.
I wrote and submitted for a long time before opening a business checking account. It didn’t seem necessary to me while I was pursuing the traditional path, especially since A) I was making so little, and B) our accountant didn’t think it important.
Once I decided to self-publish, I changed my mind. I still didn’t actually DO it, even though Dean Wesley Smith says this is one of the first things you should do when you plan to self-publish, until I went to register with Kindle Direct Publishing. They’ll pay you your royalties more quickly if they can deposit them electronically directly into your bank account. And since I want my royalties sooner rather than later, I had a reason to open the account immediately.
Having a business account doesn’t hurt if you have to show the IRS that you’re a business and not a hobbyist.
And when I opened my account, I put my publishing company name on the account too.
Do you have to have a publishing company name?
Lots of people publish without one. Their books show up as published by CreateSpace or LightningSource if POD,or as KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) or under the author’s own name. There’s nothing wrong with this, especially now that self-publishing is gaining ground and respect so rapidly.
So no, you don’t have to have a publishing company name. But you should. You’re a publisher after all, even if you only publish your own books.
Even with all the progress SP is making, there is still a certain amount of prejudice against it. Let’s be honest, some SP books are neither well written or edited and some readers will refuse to look past that to find out if a SP book is one of the good ones or not. So I decided to take Dean’s advice and publish under my own label, Castle Rock Publishing so anyone checking won’t automatically pass by without taking a closer look. It creates an image of professionalism (or will, I hope, once I get the website up) to independent bookstores who I hope will carry my POD books. It helps to show that I’m taking this venture seriously both to readers, other professionals, and the IRS.
DO I HAVE TO INCORPORATE?
I didn’t. Kris Tualla didn’t incorporate Good Night Publishing. My friends, Roxy Rogers did, and so did Lisa Cotrell-Bentley with her Wright on Time Books. Lisa is a full-fledged publisher of other authors though.
I read several articles both pro and con on the subject, (here’s the best) and decided in the end that for now, a sole proprietorship would be fine for me, since Castle Rock Publishing will only publish my and my husbands’ stories and I’m not writing inflammatory non-fiction that might get me sued.
There are other business related questions, that I will probably address her later on, but this is enough for now. Remember, I’m not a lawyer and you shouldn’t take what I say as legal advice. These are MY opinions and what I decided would work best for myself. You should do your own research and decide what will work best for you.