If you write Genre Fiction, as opposed to Literary Fiction, you’ve probably noticed that traditional publishing is falling out of favor more and more on a daily compared to the interest in doing it yourself. The statistics for how much money self publishers make are encouraging. Looking at the searches online, I researched “how to get published” and other variants are going down at a steady pace. The interest is instead in publishing yourself and marketing it so it ranks well in Amazon. Ranking as number one in your book’s category really is a matter of marketing, and if you don’t have a lot of money to put into it, you’re at a disadvantage, as many people are putting 250,000 into a launch. But if you give out lead magnets on your website to gain newsletter subscribers and send your books on KDP during free and discount periods every ninety days to the hoards of sites that alert their subscribers to them, you’ll have a chance to get reasonable sales for Genre fiction. I wouldn’t recommend doing that with Literary, as the people who subscribe to the free and discounted book lists are a different set overall than the Literary readers.
The sales rank of your book depends to a large degree on marketing. Many online tools, many of which are free, such as SumoMe, which brings more traffic to your publisher’s page, free trainings by webinar and email marketing are available to publicize your book, and free or inexpensive sites to submit discounted or free books to abound. Building a list of sincerely interested email subscribers to a newsletter can take time, using a Lead Magnet to make people more likely to fill out the opt in form, but once it happens, sales can follow a mention in the newsletter.
But most people discussing self publishing skip over the stage of setting up a business in their trainings, blogs, advice, and personal stories so authors can easily forget this is important. For publishing Literary Fiction it’s not necessarily a big deal to do it because sales will generally be low unless you have a large following due to a powerful position in a magazine for example. So beginning to just test the waters before taking the plunge is reasonable. Still, legally, if you decide it’s your path, beginning as soon as you can to set yourself up officially is the safest way to approach it.
Unless you publish it with your own name as the publisher, you’ll need to register a Fictitious Business Name Statement. You’ll need to fill out the name/s and pay 40.00 for the first one, and 7.00 for each one after that you’re registering at the same time. The form is simple, and you can download it from your county clerk’s website and snail mail in the original and three copies to the county clerk. I found emailing the clerk responsive to my questions.
You’ll then need to publish it for a month or more in a newspaper. Companies can help you do that, but you must wait until you file before you start, so you can give them the file number.
In the meantime, you can apply for your EIN online. Only go to the official IRS website, and do not pay any money to any site asking for it. If it does, it’s scamming you to steal your identity. This is an easy and quick process and you can print the confirmation. Getting the name the same in the different applications is the hard part. For example, one form may allow a “/” and another may not, and one has plenty of space and the other cuts it off with a limited amount of space: yet we’re supposed to write exactly the same thing.
I was never able to find the information though I asked directly and read everything I could find about registering with not only the overarching name and also sub-imprints. What I did was register them both and try combining them when necessary so I’ll see how it goes when I get the paperwork back.
You can set up a bank or credit union account for ease of tax records but it’s not required.
If you expect to buy any of your books, say from CreateSpace, and sell them to people in your state, whether in person or online, rather than directing them to Amazon, you’ll need to get a Resellers Permit. This one is much more complicated than the others, and you’ll need to know the BOE account number of CreateSpace, or wherever you’d be ordering books wholesale from to sell in your state. You can’t use the permit to buy from them if there is any question about whether you’ll resell. You need the account name that you’d be taking credit card orders with: Stripe, for example.
When I was planning to get a permit, I emailed CreateSpace asking for their BOE number to fill it in, assuming that’s how it’s done. They didn’t answer that question, but wrote back with this info:
“As you are ware, in order to enable your account for wholesale ordering; we also require a copy of your Reseller Certificate as well as a copy of our Resale Verification Form found at the link below.
Please allow one week for form processing. The reseller number you submit must be registered in the name of your business to qualify for the exemption. Please write your CreateSpace Member or Customer ID number – 285977 on all the forms you submit.
Once we have verified and processed your certificate, you will not be charged sales tax on future orders of your own titles or titles enrolled in the CreateSpace Direct program that are shipped to the state for which you hold a permit. We will email you confirmation of receipt and verification of your forms.
After the your reseller form is verified, you can follow the steps below to place a wholesale order:
1. Log in to your account at: https://www.createspace.com/Login.do
2. Click “Place Wholesale Order” on the upper-left section of your Member Dashboard
3. Enter the desired Title ID number or ISBN, and click the adjacent red dot
4. Enter the desired quantity
5. Click “Proceed to Cart” to complete checkout
You’ll receive an order number after checking out, and you can track your order in the “View My Purchases” section of your Member Account.”
For people who have taken books to local readings and hope one will sell one day, this is a lot of work, and then you’re expected to keep careful records of certificates. After filling it all out, I actually decided it may make more sense to not bother with selling books in person and letting this go, and just focusing on online sales. Book tours are outdated now, and blog tours are in. If you buy a book you’ve published POD, you pay the sales tax, which makes it prohibitive to sell to stores without doing this. But if you only might sell a few on commission some day or at one or two readings, ordering books wholesale for only those in your state wouldn’t be worth the reduction in book cost. However if you expect to buy in bulk from home and aggressively sell to people in your state, you definitely do need to get the Resellers Permit.
You’ll be asked your NAICS code, and for publishers, that’s 511130.
Some states require you set up with a Business License. You will also need to set up one in your city. Check out the SCORE (Service Corps Of Retired Executicves) chapter for help with that.
I’m excited to finally be taking the step to become a serious publisher aiming to make a profit at this point. The process isn’t particularly fun, but having it done will be.