Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook

Have you decided to go indie? How seriously are you taking the business side of your business? Do you need help and guidance?

Well, Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook is for you.

I wish I’d waited one more month to buy it, then I could’ve gotten the updated version too. But the one I have has provided me with some vital tips and information, resulting in a few changes in the way I do things.

In the first chapter, Helen Sedwick covers the fundamentals of setting up a business, from owning your own domain name and ISBNs to determining whether to incorporate or remain a sole proprietorship.

Using the information found in this chapter alone:

  • I learned how to check the availability of my imprint name, Canopy Books

Unfortunately, I discovered it’s already registered to someone in New York and is being used by someone else in Washington. Thanks to Pegg Thomas talking me down from a major freak-out (since the name is on the bulk of my books in Amazon and IngramSpark), my imprint is now Canopy Books of Texas.

  • I realized I needed an Employer Identification Number

You may not need one, I don’t know. But as an author who participates in novella collections, I have to fill out a W-9 for whoever is serving as “publisher” for the collection. This IRS form requires either my Social Security Number or an EIN. I give this to the “publisher” to keep her from paying taxes on more than her share of the collection’s royalties. As an editor, my clients require one because they can deduct my services (now called Canopy Editing Services) from their income taxes. For both of these reasons, I prefer to send out an EIN instead of risking my SSN.

  • I decided to file a dba

I haven’t set up the paperwork for this yet because I still need to research it and see how much of a headache it’s going to be to change things for state tax purposes, but filing  a “doing business as” (a.k.a. Fictitious Business Name) statement is in my near future. Basically, I’m creating Canopy Books of Texas Enterprises, which includes my imprint, Canopy Books of Texas, my editing business, Canopy Editing Services, and my “bookstore,” Canopy Bookstore of Texas. (The store is set up under our blue canopy only during festivals and book events.)

“But I don’t want to do all this,” you say. “I just want to write.” Okey dokey, let’s look at what else Helen Sedwick discusses in the book:

  • the difference between hiring self-publishing service companies or going completely independent, using print-on-demand services, and the contractual things to watch for in each.
  • contracting with freelancers and knowing what freelance services are tax deductible
  • taxes pertaining to the business in general
  • protecting your rights and how to avoid stepping on someone else’s rights: Copyright laws vs Creative Commons vs Public Domain.
  • DCMA, SPAM, and COPPA: navigating the “alphabet soup” of the internet
  • how to avoid marketing service scams

All this and much more, including links to some great resources.

Indie authors need to remember they are in a business now. Among the things they need to do early in their careers: join a professional writers organization, develop a network of freelancers to help with every aspect of book development and marketing, and study Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook. Keep it handy.


About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
This entry was posted in Reviews of exceptional books, The Business and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook

  1. Ah yes, the business of doing business. After owning a retail business for ten years as a Sole Proprietor, this isn’t new ground for me. My EIN from the business is mine for life and it was a simple transition from Bentley’s Floral Finery to Cecilia Marie Pulliam, Author, as far as the IRS was concerned.

    If I applied the same principles of my successful retail business to my writing… But then, using personal finances is a bit more difficult compared to having a Small Business Loan for start up costs. I just need to convince my husband… 😀

    Each business has its own set of regulations, pitfalls, and challenges. Thank you for giving us more great advice and another resource.


  2. K.M. Weiland says:

    Just the word “legal” makes my break out in hives. :p Sounds like a great resource.


  3. Thanks for sharing. This will be a valuable and disaster saving resource.


  4. Pegg Thomas says:

    Oh-oh-oh … I *love* being the hero in your story!


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