Some Tips for the Business Side of Self-Publishing

Posted: April 29, 2013 in Uncategorized
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I am SO glad that I chose to self-publish my book, but unfortunately, there is more to self-publishing than just writing and editing. I want to give you some tips to help you with the not-so-fun side of self-publishing–the business side of it.

If you have self-published your book or are considering self-publishing a book, here are some things you should know:

1. You will need to get a sales tax license, and you will need to carry a copy of it with you when you go someplace to sell your books (for example, say you have a book table set up when you go to speak in a library…you are selling the books directly from YOU, so you need to charge sales tax. It is illegal to charge sales tax without having a sales tax license, so try to get your license BEFORE your book is released so that you will be ready to sell once the book is out!) If your book is being sold through someplace else (for example, Harding’s in Otsego, MI, carries my book, Illegally Innocent), that store will collect sales tax on the book for you. You can obtain a sales tax license through your state’s website (example: if you live in Michigan, go to www.michigan.gov).

2. Once you have a sales tax license, every year you will receive paperwork in the mail that you have to fill out and send in with your collected sales tax money. I don’t know if the due date on this paperwork is the same in every state, but in Michigan you should send it in before the end of February.

3. This is optional but worth considering…You may want to get a P.O. box if you do not already have one. I don’t enjoy spending the extra money but feel like it’s necessary to protect my privacy. This way I can put a mailing address on my business cards without having it lead people directly to my house. I decided to choose the second largest size of P.O. box so that if I mail a book out to someone and it ends up getting returned to me, it will fit inside the P.O. box. For this size of P.O. box, I pay around $160 every six months.

4. Keep track of your writing expenses, including mileage when you are driving to and from a speaking engagement or other business-related travel. You can use these expenses as deductions on your taxes. Keep all receipts for your writing expenses because if you’re ever audited, you’ll need to be able to prove that you really spent money on these items.

5. Keep track of the number of books you sell as well as the number of books you give away. You will need to know this information in order to properly fill out your sales tax forms.

6. Make sure you take change with you when you are selling your books at a speaking engagement or someplace else. This tip may seem a bit like a no-brainer, but when you are trying to remember everything you need to take with you to speak, it can be easy to forget simple things like change. Most of the time people who are paying with cash will not have exact change. It is also helpful if you have a sign on your book table that states who your customers can make their checks out to.

7. Decide what course of action you are going to take with bad checks BEFORE you receive one from a customer. In just the few months that my book has been available, I have already received a bad check from a customer. Not only did I not receive the money from the check (which came from a closed account), but I was also hit with a $20 fee. Create a bad check policy and make sure you keep photocopies of previously received bad checks so that you do not accept one from the same person again. You may also wish to limit the number of books people can purchase with a personal check, just in case their checks end up being bad. As someone who has several years of experience working in retail, I can assure you that many times people who are knowingly writing bad checks will attempt to write the check for as much money as possible. It’s up to you how much you want to trust people, but I would recommend keeping your limit to five books or less purchased per person when he or she is paying with a personal check.

8. You may wish to study up on how to detect counterfeit money. Chances are high that you’ll never receive a counterfeit bill in exchange for one of your books, but it might be a good idea to know the important features of authentic money just in case you’re ever questioning a bill someone hands to you. I thought this was a pretty good article on tips for detecting fake bills: http://www.fraudfighter.com/counterfeit-detection-id-verification/bid/80853/Tips-for-Detecting-Counterfeit-Money.

Hope these tips help you! The business side of writing can be kind of boring and tedious but will be much easier if you keep yourself organized as much as possible.

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