publishing

My Limited Liability Company

In February 2019, I posted my reasons for not forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC). At the time I thought it would have added more complications to an already complicated self-publishing route I was taking. Now that I’ve self-published my first book with plans to publish others, I decided an LLC might help with marketing and promotions.

Many people say don’t form an LLC. They cite taxes to be paid and an LLC does not protect against a lawsuit. Also, an LLC is something to keep track of along with other self-publishing duties.

I discovered that setting up an LLC was not complicated and there are few additional duties other than what I would do anyway as a sole proprietor (which most self-publishers are). There is an LLC tax to be paid each year (it’s a reporting fee, but still a tax), which I am treating as a marketing expense.

As an LLC, I found my book listed in more places worldwide than under my name. Distributors and bookstores seem to pay more attention to a business rather than a person running a business. The LLC provides some legitimacy to my self-publishing.

To some people, an LLC or corporate entity means the author is serious about their publications. This may or may not be true, but if an author goes to the trouble to form a company they are more likely to put more effort into their books. Also, under U.S. law my LLC name is more protected than a name under a sole proprietorship.

I’m glad I formed an LLC. I don’t know if it will help me sell any books, but it makes me take my self-publishing efforts more seriously.

P.S. My LLC is “Every Word Rise, Ltd. Liability Co.”

P.P.S. The logo is a work-in-progress. Anyone have ideas for a logo?

My First Book Signing

A few Saturdays ago, I had my first book signing at a local bookstore. A podcast I previously heard had advised that authors at a signing event should not stand next to their books. People will more likely browse the book without the author there. This did not help.

Whether I stood by my book or not didn’t seem to matter. Yet, I still had a good time. I was outside with great weather on a Halloween afternoon and next door to the liquor store. My creativity was on overload with all the people I could write about who passed by. And I sold two books (yeah!).*

Despite few sales, I felt encouraged by the book signing. It is easy to feel negative about such an experience, but this book process (writing, publishing, marketing) is long. Just like it took me a long time to write something that people would want to read; it will take time (I hope not as long) for me to sell what I wrote.

My encouragement came from just being there with my book. I think all authors should have book signings. Even if there are no local bookstores, local shops would enjoy having an author out front. Just don’t expect to sell many books.

Instead, enjoy the experience and meet people. Book signings may not generate many sales, but maybe that podcast advice could work for someone else.

For me, the next time I have a book signing I’ll use a special pen to sign books. It won’t help sell anything, but it will make me feel as if I may have a chance.

* Note: I won’t mention they were sympathy sales to people I knew.

Three Phases of the Self-Published Book

So as not to leave anyone in suspense, the three phases are: (1) writing a book, (2) publishing it, and (3) marketing. I discovered (like everyone else) that each phase requires vastly different expertise.

Also, each expertise can be used only for that phase which makes things even more troublesome. What I learned from writing my novel I could not apply to publishing it nor marketing my book. I had to learn three different processes for the hope of someone to read what I wrote.

There are a lot of resources to help authors with each phase and a lot of opinions about how to be successful at each one. All this information is too much and can be overwhelming. What is useful depends on each author’s book.

No one writes the same one. Each book is unique and it is hard to choose what information is useful.

What is working for me is completing each phase before moving on to the next. I did all I could to finish my novel and dove into publishing my product without looking back. Now that my novel is available, I’m stumbling around in the marketing field trying to get people to buy it.

Each phase was difficult and I won’t go back to a previous phase. It may be stubbornness or laziness. It just seems like a lot of work to go back to editing or re-publishing. Besides, it was a lot of work getting out of each phase that I don’t want to repeat.

All these phases should not discourage a writer from beginning this journey. Just realize that it will take a little work, a change of thinking when in each phase, and that many authors succeed. The end result is worth the trip.

Self-Published Print Book and Booksellers

Things are simple for self-published ebooks. The author sets the price and the publishing company takes their share. For print, the author must choose what discount to give booksellers (30-55%) and whether to allow returns or not. If allowing returns, the bookseller can send books back for a refund. The author pays the refund.

What the author chooses determines how motivated a bookseller will sell their book.

Allowing the 55% and returns will motivate booksellers to sell the print copy in their store. However, this means the author gets less for each book and there is a risk of paying for returns. However, having a book in a store may generate more sales offsetting the cost and risk.

So, what is an author to do?

I do not allow returns. I have read horror stories of booksellers ordering too many books and the author getting stuck with a large expense. As an alternative, the author can buy their books and provide them to local stores, promising to accept returns. This way the author can limit how many books are in a store and can resupply if needed. More importantly, an author has the opportunity to sell their books in other-than-bookstores. And, readers can still buy a print book through online sites.

While I would like to offer booksellers the 55% discount, that means I must sell my book at a higher price. This could reduce sales. So, I decided on a low book price and the profit I’d like to make (it’s minimal). After these decisions, I adjusted the discount to meet my numbers.

Even with the 55% and allowing returns, as an unknown author I have little chance of a bookseller picking my book. So, I’ll stay local and online to sell my book.