Establishing your micro-publishing company is the first step in the self-publishing process that most self published authors don't consider until later. Setting up a proper company not only legitimizes you as a business and sets you on the right track to thinking like a business, but it also provides a safety net in more than one way.
1. Name your company
Your company name should be related to your area of expertise or topic area in some way. However, don't make it hyper-focused on what you do or who you are, as that will flag you as a self publisher immediately.
2. Establish a business structure - LLC, S-Corp, Partnership or Sole Proprietor
Consult your accountant or an attorney to determine what is best for your particular business. Based on your structure, you'll have tax implications and expense considerations as you are creating your book. Apply for a business license in your state, and a reseller permit (different states call these different things. Always check with the State Treasury.
3. Open a PO Box or some other address (other than your home)
You will receive mail, packages and possibly even visitors -- don't give them your home address in your book. Mail Boxes Etc. and places like them can accept packages for you. They also call your box a Suite # rather than a PO Box, giving the illusion of an office space.
4. Purchase QuickBooks and Create a Basic Chart of Accounts
To understand basic business accounting, attend the SBA's SCORE business start up class: http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/. You have to have a Chart of Accounts for your business dealings as well as for filing your taxes. You can do it with Excel too, however a program like QuickBooks walks you through how to do it. With Excel, you need to know what you are doing and why.
5. Get your Federal EIN and a License from Your State http://tinyurl.com/CMI-FEIN-Link.
You must have your business structure already set up to get a Federal EIN, which is basically your company's Social Security Number. Every bookseller or retailer that sells your book will ask for it when they pay you. Your checking account will be tied to your business name and this number.
6. Open a Bank Account
Sign up for the simplest business checking account you can get, with the lowest fees attached. Call the bank before you head out, because you will probably need to bring in your business papers, such as your Federal EIN letter, your Operating Agreement, Articles of Organization, photo ID, etc.
7. Design Your Company logo and business identity items
You can have a logo created by any graphic artist, but keep these things in mind:
- Logo should be no wider than it is tall-equal height and width.
- Logo or a portion of your logo should be able to fit on the spine of your book
- Logo should be designed so it's identifiable in a small size
- Logo should look good in black and white and color; stay away from drop shadows and gradients
These 7 things don't take a long time to set up, but they would take a long time to fix or create after the fact. You could potentially set up #1-5 plus #7 in one day, and then get #6 done when the paperwork comes in. Your new best friends are your accountant, your attorney, insurance guy, and your banker. Use them now to prevent bigger expenses and potential legal issues later.