A person who wants to self-publish her book asked me this question a few days ago. She had a beautiful book and a lot of money to promote it, but she had no idea how to actually sell it. So she asked me, "Do I need a business license to publish my book?"
And I replied...
Yes! If you want to SELL that self-published book, then the answer is most definitely yes! After which I proceeded to smack her about the head with her own beautiful book.
I didn't actually smack her, but I really wanted to, because this is one of those questions that should be asked BEFORE you try to publish your book. Too often, questions about business and other important details are asked AFTER the book is not only written, but designed, printed and bound. You may roll your eyes and yawn, because after all, business is so *boring* to us artistic types. We have important works of art to create.
Writing your book is an art, but publishing that book is a business. If you want to publish your book yourself, you must fully embrace this idea. Say it with me: Publishing is a Business. Too many people in the small press world put all their energy into creating a beautiful book, skipping the part about creating their business. They then are unable to sell that book they just spent a year writing.
Again, Publishing is a Business. That means you need a business license, a name, a location, a resale license and a way to track sales. You need to pay taxes on those sales at the end of the fiscal year, and account for any income you earn for your personal taxes. Besides just reading books and asking questions about publishing books, you need to learn about setting up a small business. Being a publisher means you are an entrepreneur, so make sure you know what you're getting yourself into.
It isn't difficult to set up a business, so don't let any fears you may have of entrepreneurial commitment stop you from being a publisher. Take a business course at a community college (that's what I did) and read a few books on small business, like The Small Business Kit for Dummies (which helped me a lot!).
While researching setting up a Publishing Business, I was disappointed that I couldn't find a book that combined Book Publishing with Small Business, so I've written my own. "What You Need to Know to Be a Pro: The Start-Up Business Guide for Publishers," is schedule for launch Nov. 1, 2008. My book covers the basics of creating a small business entity, including choosing a name, getting a business license, finding a logo, and keeping track of sales. If you send me an email I'll add your name to the the pre-order list so you'll know the moment the book is ready for sale.
The first person on the list is the woman who asked about Business Licenses.