Okay, so when I first dipped my big toe into self publishing, did anyone tell me that it’s actually a real business? NO! For me, I was following a dream and all I was thinking of was writing and creating books.
It seems obvious now, but when you’re starting something new, obvious questions don’t come up, cause you don’t know what those questions are, let alone ask ’em.
So, here’s my advice for those of you going into self-publishing… Self-publishing is a legitimate, for real business and you have to treat it like one.
Eventually, hopefully sooner than later you will make money through self-publishing. When you start making money, now you’re a “paid professional.” It doesn’t matter that behind the scenes, you’re still learning what to do and trying to figure things out. One thing that you gotta remember is that when the money starts coming in, there is a matter of taxes that have to be accounted for.
So… my advice, make your self-publishing biz, legit from the start, rather than having to clean up later. Get your business documents in order even if you’re only making a dollar a month.
My advice is going to be specific to the U.S. and more specifically — California residents. But the thing to remember is that no matter where you live, your local government will have rules and regulations as to how they want local businesses to conduct themselves and how they (meaning your local governmental agency) wants to get paid. It all goes down to paying fees and taxes.
Okay, so for California and even this, may vary from County to County and City to City, so do some homework, but I’ll give you some buzzwords to ask about.
For the County, I live in, which happens to be San Joaquin County, these are the steps, I’ve had to take:
1. I had to go to the County’s Recorder’s Office to apply for a fictitious business name and pay for the application fee.
2. Once, I completed the application, I had to publicly post the business name through a local paper distributed in our County for thirty (30) days. I had to pay the local paper to post my business name.
3. Once the 30 days of posting completed, I had to get a validation from the local paper and submit that to the Recorder’s Office.
4. Once the Recorder’s Office had the validation, they registered my fictitious business name.
5. Then, and I didn’t know this part… I got a notice from the local City’s financial department alerting me that it has come to their attention that I am running a business and therefore needed to obtain a license in order to comply with local City ordinance… blah, blah, blah.
6. So, I go to my City’s (Lodi) financial department and apply for a license. The license part wasn’t a big deal, but I had to complete an extra set of paperwork because I was running the business out of our home. I had to sign paperwork that I would not post signs or do anything that would compromise the integrity of our neighborhood… blah, blah, blah. I had to pay extra fees to run the biz out of our home, but it’s good for as long as we live in the house.
7. At this point, I thought I was done. I got my biz license, got an okay to run it out of the house, and my biz name was registered at the County government. Oh no. I wasn’t done.
8. I then got a notice from the County Assessor’s Office asking me to fill out a form that basically asks why I have a business license for my residence. The form was short and even came with a self addressed/stamped envelope, but it was yet one more step that I wasn’t told about. So, I went to the Assessor’s Office and turned in my form. No fees for that form, just a quick, “it’s a-ok” from the rep.
9. This is the latest. I have finally worked up enough courage to participate at a local event, where I have the opportunity to show and sell my books. I had to fill out more forms, okay no big deal. I’m used to forms by now, but the event organizers were asking for a biz license — okay got that one, but they also wanted a seller’s permit. WHAT?! What’s that? Isn’t that my license?
10. Today, I went online looked up information on seller’s permits and it lead me to the State of California Board of Equalization. Presto! Online registration available for Seller’s Permits. There is a regular seller’s permit and a temporary seller’s permit. I got the regular one since I don’t want to have to keep re-applying every time I decide to participate in an event and besides, I don’t consider my little publishing biz — temporary. I hope to grow this baby! The permit is good for one fiscal year and you have to re-register and definitely report taxes/income and all that stuff. The best part was that the Seller’s Permit was no cost and I was able to print up the permit as soon as the application process was done. WOOHOO! That was a bonus since I needed to have the permit to participate with the event!
1. Fictitious Business Name (registered with your local government). You may have to do a public posting through a local paper, but this will depend on your local gov’s rules.
2. Business license. You typically have to get this through the City where you have your business located. I work 12 Angels Publishing out of our kitchen, so I applied through our City. If, like the City I live in, there are ordinances dictating how what you can or cannot do in a residential area, you might want to check if there’s any extra permits you have to get to work out of your house.
3. Once you have your business license, go ahead and apply for a Seller’s Permit. In California, this is required for any business engaged in selling in California.
If anything else comes up, I’ll definitely update this post. I’m learning by fire and during those times, I get a little too close to the heat, I’ll let you know so you can stay nice and cool!
Again, remember going into self-publishing is a true, bonafide business. You do this right and you’ll be living your dreams. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme whatsoever. You will have to work your butt and your heart out and you will have to be careful because there are a lot of gamers out there who will try to scam you out of your hard earned money. Buyer beware is a good rule of thumb to adopt.
Anyways, take the time to do the research to see what your local government requires. It’s better to have this out of the way and know that your business is following all the rules from day one, rather than to find out the hard way and have to make up years of fees and taxes. Blech! Who wants to deal with that?
Happy publishing and I’m excited for your success!!