(reblogged from The Book Designer)
When best-selling romance writer Sharon Hamilton quit her day job to write full time, she thought she was leaving the business world behind. After 25 years running her own real estate agency, she was sure she could “wing it” when it came to the business side of publishing her own books. But when Hamilton started selling books by the tens of thousands, she was caught in a bind.
“Unlike being a realtor, where the training is available, I found it difficult to find the good business information for writers,” Hamilton explained. “But I didn’t want to take time and attention away from my writing to set up and run a business.”
Many writers who dive into self-publishing are surprised to discover they are running a business. They have questions about incorporation and business licenses. They wonder what to do about sales taxes. They fear hiring editors, designers, and other freelancers.
Most of all, they don’t want to take time away from writing to figure it all out.
Sure, there is a lot of information scattered across the internet, but who has the patience to sort through such clutter? How do writers distinguish between useful insights from utter nonsense?
A few months ago, Joel approached me to see if we could put together a way to help authors through the process of setting up a publishing business quickly and easily. After 30 years of practicing business law, I knew the subject well, and I thought that we could do that, and got to work.
What would this help look like? What would be the ideal solution for today’s busy indie authors?
It seemed to me that it would have to include help with the critical tasks involved in setting up a business, including:
- Deciding whether to form a corporation or limited liability company
- Developing a realistic budget or a full-blown business plan
- Choosing an imprint name, including where to search for possible conflicts
- Obtaining business identification numbers, permits and licenses
- Purchasing ISBNs
- Setting up bank, PayPal and other business accounts
- Accepting credit cards
- Keeping track of income and expenses
- Retaining business contracts and records
- Understanding tax reporting and payment obligations
- Financing through crowd-funding and other options
- Hiring freelancers
- Buying Insurance
- Growing a business beyond the book
And it would be an even better solution if it included form contracts for hiring editors and designers, samples of key documents such as a release and a privacy statement, and a spreadsheet for helping you keep track of income and expenses.
That would really be something a lot of authors could use.