Monday, March 28, 2011

DIY Publishing Lessons

Well, we either learn "in time" or "for next time" - in this case, the latter.
Ready to copyright your book? Have a name for your publishing company?
Before you do those things,
Buy the domain names!
Plenty of folks out there are ready to profit from obtaining your name then selling it to you.
Maybe you want to pay them, maybe you'd rather not.
So start by reserving those names. Once your entity name and book title are public records, you're too late - the sharks swim fast!

OK, so you have your domain name(s) - publishing company name, or book, or both. (I call mine Fool Court Press, home to all the titles I publish)

Copyright your book quickly and easily at where the site walks you through the steps in uploading your manuscript and registering your work electronically.

Buy an ISBN for your book if no one else is providing it. Smashwords for example, will provide one for my ebook edition, but I need a separate one for the print version. If you even remotely imagine you'll publish more than one title, buy a lot of ten: one costs $125, ten cost $250. Go to to do this. Do you need to buy a barcode too? Check with your cover designer, who may have the software to set this up.

It's a good idea to create an entity to track your expenses & income for publishing your book.
You can use your own name, but you should consider setting up a separate entity. I chose an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) because I can be the sole owner, and it's cheaper and less complicated than a full-blown or Chapter S corporation.
Start your registration at the state level, because the IRS needs to know where you're established. If you choose a state other than where you reside, you'll need an agent with an address there - an intermediary you'll have to pay.
So I set up my LLC in Colorado, where I reside. That cost me $50.

OK, ready to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS?
First I made the mistake of googling "IRS LLC". I got the usual gazillion results, the first multiple pages of which were NOT the IRS but private companies which will happily take your money to do for you what you can do yourself free of charge.
So just type in your browser window, or click here which will take you to the proper page. Less than 15 minutes later, your entity legally exists.

Now keep good records. Establish a bank account for your entity, so you can easily identify your expenses & income - this is not only cleaner than running everything through your personal account, it's also more professional. Be prepared to show the bank your IRS & state registration numbers. Once the account is set up, any expenses related to publishing and selling your work should go in here - registration costs, printing, website expenses, book tour, marketing... Until you start selling books, the money's just going out, but if you keep at it, you may break even!

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