So, if you’ve read my older posts, you know that I took Bethany Claire’s class on self-publishing. It was…eye opening to say the least. As a USA Today Bestselling author, she knows her stuff. She’s got this down.
I thought I knew my stuff. But I didn’t. Like at all. I mean, I had the basics down and that was about it. But now I do. Thanks to her amazing class. And she was kind enough to give her permission to share her wisdom.
When self-publishing for the first time–or even the second or third–you are kind of going in blind for the most part. Unless you are friendly with another author who has done it before you and is willing to share their wisdom, then you are having to do the research almost all on your own.
Some people just want to publish one or two books, just to have them. And that’s great. But some people want to make a living out of writing. In that case, it’s important to look at self-publishing as a business. These 10 things are more for the latter.
There are SOOO many things to consider before clicking the “publish” button. But here are 10 of the most important ones:
1. Decide whether or not you will use a pen name
This is not a mandatory thing at all. I don’t personally use a pen name, at least at this time, because I love the sound of my real name and I don’t write anything that I wouldn’t want anyone to know about. Some people think that it’s best to use a pen name so you can keep your professional life and personal life separate. Either way, decide this before all the rest of the steps. Because if you are using a pen name, you’ll want it to be attached to everything related your business.
2. Buy your domain name
Hopefully, it’s not taken. If your name (or your pen name) is Bob Bobbington, then you’ll want to see if the domain name bobbobbington.com is available. If it is (YAY) then you should consider laying down the $100 or so to own it. It just looks more professional to have your name with .com at the end of it than to include a blog site title in there as well.
3. Set up your email account
Once you have your domain, you’ll want to consider changing your address from @gmail.com to something like firstname.lastname@example.org or something like that. Also more professional. Fake it ’til you make it! 😉
4. Meet with an accountant
Whether you are wanting to establish an LLC or a Sole-Proprietorship, it’s important to meet with your accountant to discuss your intentions in regards to your business. They will be able to advise you and help you along the way.
5. Open a Post Office Box
This is mostly for those of you who plan to have a mailing list (which should probably be all of you if you want to keep readers coming back). Most sites like MailChimp require a mailing address, and it’s just best not to have your personal, home address listed at the bottom of every newsletter. Especially if you took the time to create a pen name!
6. Get a business bank account
This is mostly for those of you who decide to go the LLC route. It’s best to keep your business expenses separate from your personal expenses. It also makes it easier when tax season rolls around.
7. Open a PayPal Account for the business
Most of the services you’ll be paying for will accept PayPal. You are able to set up a Business PayPal Debit card, which will pull from your business account. They even have some cool features like money back and such. This also helps if you set up something on your website that people will need to pay you directly for (like signed books, etc.).
8. Plan to set aside 30% of royalties received for taxes
Your accountant will tell you more about this. All I will say is that you really don’t want to have tax season sneak up on you and not have enough money in your account to pay what you owe. As my mom used to say, “That money is not yours! It’s the government’s!”
9. Write a series! (Or at least think about it)
One of the secrets to making it big as a self-published author is writing a series. If someone buys book one and loves it, then they will probably buy book two and book three and so on and so on. The more books you have in a series, the more they will likely buy. If you aren’t a series writer, that’s okay. But know that, to make the money self-publishing some of us dream of making, it is necessary to keep producing a product. It sucks to call our babies (books) “product,” but that’s what it is.
10. Make a business plan
If you’re going to treat self-publishing as a business, it’s a good idea to have a plan. Know what you intend to make, know what you want to do in regards to how much you are willing to pay for covers, editing, formatting, advertising, marketing, etc. A lot of the time, you will have to have money up front. Hopefully, though, you will make back what you spent. And then some. 🙂
I will say that, no, I did not have all of this in place when I first self-published. But I SO wish I had. Again, not all of this is mandatory. But each one is something to consider and ponder before clicking “publish.”