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25 July, 2008

Passing: Part II - Let's Get Down To Business, Shall We?

I'm going to pause here and yawn, just on GP.

When we think of self-publishing a book, we tend to jump right to visualizing a dynamic book cover and lots of sales. But the fact of the matter is, the "yawn" stuff has to be dealt with first. Eventually, we will hold in our hands the fruits of our labor, but, "All play and no work puts off the publication of your book one more day."

As a matter of fact, you should go ahead and yawn, too. Done? Okay, let's go...

Now that you've set up your publishing company or applied for a fictitious name under which to do business, you'll want to apply for an EIN number (employer identification number). These are assigned by the Internal Revenue Service and you can download the necessary application at http://www.irs.gov or apply over the phone (you can obtain the correct telephone number to call from the site, as well). When you apply over the telephone, you'll receive your EIN number immediately, which is cool, because if you need it for other business purposes now you have it. You'll receive a letter from the IRS in the mail in about 7-10 business days, which will serve as verification of your EIN number, and this is what you'll use (along with your ID and verification of your particular business entity) to open up a bank account for your company. If you choose to do so, that is.

(Quick Note: Consider opening your business account at a credit union, versus a bank, if you feel maintaining a certain daily/monthly balance and/or possibly having to pay miscellaneous fees might be a problem. Personally, I opted for doing business with a credit union, because I don't have to pay any fees for having an account there and no minimum balance is required. Just like with a bank, I have a bankcard and business checks, etc. Just about the only possible drawback to credit union accounts that I can think of right now has to do with location. Many times, banks have branches all over the place and credit unions may only have a handful.)

('Nother Quick Note: If you apply for a fictitious name and you intend to publish your book without setting up a formal business entity, then opening a separate bank account and obtaining an EIN might not be necessary. Don't quote me though. When applying for a fictitious name, presumably through your state government, be sure to ask about the requirements for doing the kind of business you intend to do.)

Either way - whether you opt to set up a business entity or go the fictitious name route - keep up-to-date records of the expenses you incur in the process of publishing your book. You don't want to play with the IRS come tax time.

Sleepy yet? No? Good.

A couple of other things you want to consider are address, telephone and Internet communication options. For your publishing needs, will you use your home mailing address or will you rent a private (PMB) or post (P.O.) box? If you rent a box from someplace other than the United States Post Office, factor in the possibility that the location could close or move when you're having stationary, business cards and/or letterhead designed. It could happen, and if it does, what'll you do with all the crap you had printed with that address on it?

What about a website? Will you set up one for your company or book(s)? These days you really have little choice but to set up a web presence. There are myriad website hosting services and servers, including free services where you either have to pay a small fee for reserving your domain name or share your space with advertisements that the server installs on your site. Another, more recent development is the option to use free document creation tools, such as "Google Pages", to create a site. With this type of service, your domain name might look something like this: http://googlepages.blahblahblah.com. Many servers have tutorials for designing your own website and there are lots of great web designers available for hire.

Then there's the little matter of whether you'll use your existing telephone line for business purposes (not recommended, because three-year-olds do not take very good messages and they don't give off a professional aura, either), or have another telephone line installed. You could do either of these or you could use the services of one of the many companies that offer free (or minimal cost) voice/fax services online. This is especially good for portability. Regardless where you travel, your faxes and voicemail are just a log-on, click & download away. Another good thing - no clutter in your home office or work area.

Okay...so now you've set up your business platform, decided upon a location & contact format (address, telephone/fax number(s), and online presence), obtained an EIN number and opened a back account. The basics of doing business are pretty much attended to. I say pretty much, because there's always something that needs to be done...

The good thing about doing business in this day and age is that the Internet saves gas and time. Most, if not all, of the information I've listed above can be obtained and processed online. Don't you love me?

Stay tuned, folks. Part III coming soon. This ain't over...

2 comments:

Genesis said...

Hey Terra

When you are setting up your publishing business (or dba), do you think it's a good idea to create a business plan just in case you decide to approach someone for funding (whether it be private funding, local funding, etc..)? I'on know, I'm just asking...lol

Another great post!

Genesis

Terra Little said...

Definitely and thanks for thinking of it. As I said, there's always something else that needs to be done...LOL

Business plans help you identify your goal/mission and, stay focused and organized. They lay out what you're going to do and how you're going to do it. By the same token, they provide this information to possible funding sources. Assistance could come in other forms, too, such as advertising/promo help, sponsorship, etc., and having a solid business plan is key to professionalism and being taken seriously. Funding sources want to know that you have a plan for making the money with which you're going to pay them back and other business entities want to know that they're affiliating with a worthwhile business.

Working from and with a good, solid business plan also increases your chances of longevity in the business, if that's your goal.

When I started creating mine, I did a "sample business plan" net search and found a gazillion good examples and templates to get me going.

Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for making it even better!