I’ve been doing some research on publishing the book I’m writing and several sources suggested starting my own publishing company. Since “start a business” is item #11 on my life bucket list, I decided to knock that one out now. Thinking of starting your own? Here are my occasionally U.S.-centric steps for doing so.
Come up with a good reason to start a company.
Publishing a book under a distinct company name and not just an author name gives a more assertive air about the thing, a sniff of credibility. It signals to the market that people invested money and time in this endeavor. It’s professional.
I also really like the idea of approaching distributors and printers as a company and not as an individual. I’m not an author begging you to take my books. I’m a serious business selling books. See? I’m wearing a different hat.
Switching hats makes it easier to brag. For instance, the “press kit” is something you send to distributors and buyers who are interested in your book/story. Most of the this kit is supposed to be in the third person, which I love. It doesn’t feel as gross that way.
Here’s the draft press kit my publisher (me) put together if you’re bored and looking for more crap to read on the internet.
Credit card points
Another big bonus – when you make a company, you can obtain a corporate credit card to exploit those perks. And you can open a checking account. The business can pay for the expenses of the business.
Tax stuff maybe?
Maybe there is some shield of liability and tax benefits of operating under a company name. Your business is separate from you. You have a social security number while your company has a federal employer identification number. Different numbers so the government treats you like you’re different entities.
For this to actually matter, you need to jump through the hoops, pay yourself a salary and differentiate between that and profit from the business. Probably only worth the hassle if you’re making a meaningful amount of money first.
After you’ve convinced yourself of the why, you have to figure out the how.
Decide what type of company you want to create.
A limited liability company? A partnership? An S-Corporation? A conglomerate? A cabal? Some of those aren’t officially recognized by the government.
I used to be a lawyer. Emphasis on used to. I’m not giving you any type of legal advice. Do your own research. This is what I decided works for me at this particular time.
I chose an LLC.
Decide where you want to start your company.
It’s all very state specific. You can set up a “virtual office” in a state if you want to maximize your taxable benefits. Everyone recommends the state of Wyoming for its low fees and business taxes. I chose the state on my driver’s license. I may regret that choice later, but I can change it if it becomes necessary.
Fill out a lot of paperwork, understand and comply with all the bureaucracy.
You’ll need to register with the state of your choice and pay some filing fees. You’ll maybe need articles of organization, an operating agreement, minutes, meetings or resolutions for opening bank accounts and such and you’ll need to make a capital contribution to fund the company. The details depend on the type of company you chose.
I used to corporate lawyer and did this kind of stuff regularly, but I still took a shortcut and paid someone to do some of this for me — mynewcompany.com*. I may drop it in the future, but the checklists, prompts, customer service and agent for service of process made this worth the money for me.
Design a logo for your company.
I haven’t done this yet, but it’s on my to-do list. Artsy stuff is not my forte, so I’ll probably hire someone to do it for me.
Set up a company website.
I just added it to my existing website account and bought the domain and privacy protection. It’s a real company. I call it The Power of Publishing LLC.
Apply for a federal taxpayer number.
Go to IRS.gov and apply for a federal EIN. Super simple.
Open a business credit card and get some of those miles you were so excited about when contemplating this venture.
I just googled until I found a corporate credit card that offered a good cash back amount and no annual fee. No affiliate link. Do your own googling.
Open a bank account.
Go to a bank and tell them you want to open a corporate bank account. You’ll need the company’s federal tax number and you may need written resolutions from the company authorizing the opening.
Get some accounting software and keep track of your expenses and income for the business.
This was my accountant’s suggestion. I went with something called Gnucash because it’s free and ideal for small businesses with only one person. I don’t love it, but I think that’s because I hate tracking my expenses in general.
Put your business expenses on your credit card and funnel any profits to your business bank account. Update regularly.
Cross off bucket list item and cheer.
*Affiliate link. I used it before I realized I could recommend it. Hopefully that makes it less icky.