Tightening Up the Business Structure of Your Writing

I have had this post sitting in my drafts since October 2019. I didn’t want to publish it until I had tightened up my own business structure and then Corona hit and I thought, “maybe this isn’t appropriate right now” and I put it off. I have a habit of meditating on what I have to do throughout the day before I get up from the bed. This morning I thought, “wait a minute, this could actually be the perfect time to present this information.”

Even though there aren’t a lot of people working and the world is sick, this could be the perfect time for us to plan, organize, and restructure some things. Just the other day we cleaned out a closet that had served as the junk closet since we moved in and Husband organized the garage. These days, we are paying attention to things we have neglected to give much attention to, why not include our writing business too? Whether you will use this information now or later, this is a good time to at least give it some thought.

In the Beginning

For Self-Publishing a book, things are relatively easy in the beginning. You create a KDP account, connect your bank account (so you can get paid your royalties) and you are set. You can also create a PayPal account to collect funds from books bought through your website or blog and get a card reader to accept payments on the go (like at book signings or heck, you can sell books out the trunk of your car if you want). It also helps to have a Cash App account. Other apps like Zelle are also good, but I’ve found most readers have CashApp. These are the basics every Indie Author should have in place.

In the beginning…

Next Level

Everything I said is good in the beginning, but what if you’ve been doing this for some time? How do you level up from this structure? How do you go from author to authorpreneur?

Author + Entrepreneurial Practices = Authorpreneur

An authorpreneur is an author with entrepreneurial practices. 

Publishing a book automatically puts you in business, yes, but there are other things you can do to make sure you are running it like one. It’s not 2008 and Self-Publishing is not what it used to be. The standards are higher.

Anyone can publish a book today (even if they aren’t good writers), by uploading a Word Document or PDF to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. In the past, this has brought down the quality of the prestigious process of book publishing and specifically, Indie Book Publishing. Today, though, the stigma attached to Self-Publishing is fading and authors who publish top-quality material are being separated from those who do not.

With the current Pandemic ravaging the world, the realization of the value of Indie Publishing, social media, and doing business online is apparent now more than ever. A lot of brick and mortar bookstores are closed and some will not reopen.

The basic system I started this post out as is good in the beginning but the Indie Author who goes beyond the bare minimum will set themselves apart from the pack.

Create a business name/structure that is legal and connected to a business bank account.

When your business grows, you’ll discover how important it is to have a legal business structure. It has done wonders for me and is very helpful in keeping up with how much is coming in and going out which helps me to have a realistic picture of my ROI or return on investment.  You work hard to write these books, to publish them and spend good money to get them out into the world. Don’t let all this hard work go to waste.

You can get away with using a Pseudonym or creative business name at first but if you are serious about using that name, for certain projects you will need it to be legit. What happens if someone sends you a check in your fake business name and you have not made it legal? Without a business bank account in that name, you will not be able to cash it.

    • Decide if you want to be a Sole Proprietorship,* LLC, Corporation, Non-Profit (if you publish books for charity) or any other structure that suits you.

*A Sole Proprietorship is not recommended but it’s better than nothing.

  • Set up a business bank account – You can set up your bank account once you have your business structure in place and monitor just how much is coming in from your book sales and other author endeavors separate from other forms of income. You will get a business debit/bank card and checks to use for your business. You can even establish a line of credit.
  • Creating a business structure can motivate you because you get to see your writing as a real business and not just a fancy play-name. You can get logos made if you want and do transactions under this name which comes in handy when completing W-9 forms and other paperwork that may be required for you to get paid.

Stay Legally Compliant

With a business structure, you will need to keep your business compliant with state and federal business laws. The requirements will vary based on your business structure. (For instance, the requirements are more strict for corporations than LLC’s). An example is that you may have to file once a year with a filing fee of maybe $30 to stay in compliance. The process is not tedious and you may even be able to do it online. For details on staying compliant you can visit the small business administration website here.

If you don’t stay compliant your business will fall into an inactive status.

Publish Your Books Under Your Own Imprint

Once you have your legal business structure, and business bank account in place, it is time to publish your books like you own your business.

  • Buy Your ISBNs – The ISBN is a unique identifier for a book, issued by an ISBN registration agency. In the U.S., this agency is Bowker.* In some other countries, the ISBN is free but in the US they are not. They are expensive so it’s best to buy them in bulk if you can. You can buy a block of ten which would cover ten separate paperback or hardcopy books. KDP, Lulu, and other POD (Print on Demand) companies do provide ISBNs for free if you absolutely cannot afford to buy one.

But…

Free assigned ISBNs belong to the company that issues it, such as KDP or Lulu. This means they (KDP/Lulu/Other said company) are the publishers and owners of that book and they will be listed as such. 

Once you have your own company, you will want to have your books listed under your company name. If you are the publisher you should be listed as the publisher. If ownership is important to you, buying your own ISBNs is something you might want to look into.

With your company name legalized and books under your ISBN, this sets you apart as a serious business person and makes it easier for high-profile people to do business with you.

There are tons of fake ISBN companies out there. If you are in the US, be sure you purchase your ISBN from Bowker.

It’s easy to go the free route but free is limiting and it does not always set you apart. By creating an actual business complete with the necessary paperwork, it is easier for you to stay organized, to file taxes, and to rise above the crowd and stand out as a professional author.

Extra Tips

  • Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created. Don’t let scam publishing companies fool you by saying “Keep 100% of Your Copyright.” This means they are promising you something you already have. For publishing rights (different from copyright) all you have to do is buy your own ISBN.
  • When tightening up your writing business, be sure you have both a paperback and a digital version of your book available.

I talk a lot about paperback books because I’ve always sold more hardcopies than digital (I’ve always been different, guess that translated to my business too lol) and I just love them but that doesn’t negate the importance of having digital versions of your book available too. We are living in a digital age and with everything being online, authors without digital books will be left out. Brick and Mortar bookstores without an online presence are struggling right now.

  • For those of you who sell paperbacks, consider lowering your print book price if you are not seeing sales. I love buying paperbacks from Indies but a lot of them are also very expensive. I am not saying you can’t raise your price. As an Independent Author, you can do what you want. I am saying to consider raising the price only after you see consistent sales. Who is buying a $30, 100-page paperback from an unknown first-time Self-Published Author? Do what works for you, but make sure you are being realistic.
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

When this post was first drafted, it was after I had watched a video of Tyler Perry advising entrepreneurs. I am not a big Perry fan but when people are advising about business, I listen. Perry talked about entrepreneurs learning when to let go. Here, he meant letting go of business practices that no longer serve you once your business grows. He talked about not being so used to how it has always been done that we are not open to change. For example, Perry’s sister used to keep receipts in a folder but as Tyler’s business grew that kind of accounting system no longer worked for taxes. Not when you have over 400 employees.

As professional Indie Authors, we must have the same mindset.


Want more Indie Author Tips? Visit the Indie Author Basics with EC page here!


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👉Instagram: @yecheilyah
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She Is

Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash

 

She is Neo-Soul

And conscious rap

Negro Spirituals

And Motown

She is a jagged edge

And digital underground

Stokely Carmichael

And Steve Cokely

She is Luther Vandross and Jaheim

Destiny’s Child and SWV

She is smooth like Joe, political like Kweli

And rules like Deborah under the palm tree

She is no newborn

But neither is she ancient

Her mind is both fresh and seasoned

Experienced and innocent

She does not fit in, nor does she try

The world isn’t big enough to shelve

her

light is MC

Her taste

Souls of Mischief

She is a timeless prayer

And worth far more than rubies

She Mos Def does not seek to be understood

By people already committed to misunderstanding

Her vibes

Are not up for debate

She is classic literature

And urban fiction

She does not waver

She does not fold

She is

an old soul

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Michael Williams

What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Michael Williams, or as I’m called in this wonderful world of the interwebs, Cerealsensei. I was born in Austin, Texas but I spent a large portion of my life in Baltimore, Maryland where I was raised.

What does Cerealsensei mean?

The name Cerealsensei represents two parts of my personality. I have a slight obsession with cereal, I would consider myself a cereal connoisseur of sorts. If it was possible to eat cereal for every meal and not have your sugar levels spike through the roof I would do it but unfortunately life isn’t fair.

Haha. Okay Cereal Connoisseur, what’s your favorite?

The greatest cereal of all time is Waffle Crisp, without question. Sadly I believe it was discontinued last year so if you didn’t have it after all these years then you missed out on greatness. So by technicality I guess Cinnamon Toast Crunch is now sitting on the throne.

Lol. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the bomb if I must say so myself. Let’s get back to the meaning of your name…

The Sensei part comes from me being the oldest in my group of friends. I watched a lot of martial arts films growing up. Normally the Sensei was an older an teacher who was always the voice of reason and tried to keep everyone in line. In a way that’s kind of how I am in my group of friends, the resident old head who’s just trying to keep order. So i just kind of combined the two and Cerealsensei was born. Also, since my real name is so common I had to add in a nickname so you could find me easily in a google search.

Got it. What do you love about yourself?

A few years ago I might not have even been able to answer this question. But I’ve come to love the weird quirks and off beat humor of my personality. I know I’m different, and I don’t say that to be pretentious or “artsy” but it’s true. I’ve become fully aware that I march awkwardly to the beat of my own drum and I get lost among the crowd. But it’s what makes me who I am and I wouldn’t change it even if I could.

That’s beautiful. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The Most Exciting thing?

The most exciting thing? The most difficult thing……I absolutely with all of my being despise editing. I dread it every time I have to do it, but it’s the most important part of the writing process in my opinion so it’s unavoidable. But it stresses my soul every single time. The most exciting thing would have to be that moment when you realize those crazy ideas you had in your head can actually become something tangible. That moment when you’ve got the words down on the paper in the exact way you wanted to and you can honestly be proud that you were able to flush that concept out into something readable. Ironically this happens a lot when you’re……editing, go figure.

What kind of music do you like?

Man, I could go on all day about this. Aside from writing music is a huge passion of mine. Now days I mostly listen to a lot of indie hip hop, Oddisee is probably my favorite rapper if I had to list one. But I appreciate all genre’s of music, they all bring something special to the table. Depending on my mood I’ll throw on some soul or R&B, then switch it up to some rock, something ambient or orchestral, I also love instrumental beat tapes which are great to listen to if you’re writing. One of the best things about the internet was it exposed me to so much music that I didn’t know existed, I spend a good amount of time doing what I call digital crate digging just trying to find new things to listen to.

I love everything about this cover! The Oddball Chronicles is available now on Amazon. About: Omar Odd is the kid who sits quietly in the back of the classroom with his headphones on. He is the kid who is always picked last for every team he tries to be apart of. He is the kid who’s just searching for a little bit of peace and quiet, in a world full of chaotic noise. Omar Odd is a new transfer high school student to the town of Ridgewood. He prefers to live the life of an outsider, but even outsiders find an in crowd.

When did you publish your first book? What was that like?

I published my first book on November 12, 2018. When I finally put it out it was an awesome feeling, a lot of weight fell of my shoulders on that day. To be honest, when I put it out I wasn’t so much worried about people loving it or hating it. Obviously, I hope they like it. But putting out that first book was for me to prove that I could start this process and see it through until the very end. This was an idea that started about five years ago, so it was awesome to finally be able to release it and check that goal off of my bucket list. Now it’s about repeating that process over again, and not having it take five years to do.

What genre do you write in, why?

I’m terrible with categorizing but for now I guess you could say comedic fiction, aimed generally at a younger audience. I wanted my first book to be something that anyone could pick up and relate to in some way. I don’t want to talk over anyone’s head, I’m not trying to make some crazy and profound statement with my writing. I just want you to be able to pick it up and have a good time, writing fiction allows me to do that.

You definitely achieved that. From the cover and blurb, the Oddball Chronicles looks like a fun read!

My future projects which will also include scripts I’m working on will be much darker though. I don’t want to get pegged into any box. I’m a scatter brain and that influences how I write. I”ll never stick to just one genre. The Oddball Chronicles will stand as it’s own thing, but everything afterward most likely won’t resemble it at all.

What was your childhood dream?

My first childhood dream was to become a chef. Ha, boy did I fail that dream miserably. But to my credit, I’ve gotten better around the kitchen. Having health issues made me learn how to cook so I wouldn’t eat out so much. I’m not the best cook by any stretch of the imagination but I can make some pretty decent salmon.

Love Salmon. Let’s talk about writing a bit more. What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?

This is a tough question. I think what I love is also what I hate. And that would be that there’s really no set playbook on how any of this works. You and I could both read the same writing advice and for you it might cause a light-bulb moment but my fuse will just blow out all together. It’s very cliché, but you really do have to find what works best for you.

I agree. What do you think of the world we live in?

It’s crazy, it’s out of control, some days I’m waiting for it to end. Whether it be Jesus coming back to take the wheel or an asteroid just wiping us all out. Everyday I see at least one news story or viral video that just makes me shake my head. But on the flip-side, the world still has it’s beautiful parts. There are still good people out here who are trying to do the right thing and push us forward. If nothing else, I love the creative boom that’s happening with content in terms of film, music and all of the other creative outlets. Underneath all of the madness there are some extremely talented people out here putting out great art and that’s what inspires me and keeps me going. I want to add my name to that conversation.

Why is writing important to you?

It’s the best way I know how to communicate. If I didn’t have it all of these wild ideas in my head wouldn’t leave, writing helps me give them a home so they don’t bother me for too long. Writing is a release for me and gives me a sense of accomplishment every time I do it. If I wasn’t writing I’d hate to think of where I’d be or what I’d be doing. Life wouldn’t be much fun without it.

Thank you Michael for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Copyright©2019. Michael Cerealsensei Williams

Bio.

My name is Michael Williams and I’m an independent author and podcaster currently living in Edgewood, Maryland. When I’m not writing stories or scripts you can find me obsessing over Mixed Martial Arts, playing video games and/or attempting to finish an anime (I have commitment issues). On November 12th, 2018 I released volume one of my short story series entitled The Oddball Chronicles. I wanted to write something that captured the growing pains of every day life and put my little off beat brand of humor on it. Hopefully if someone else reads it they’ll find it halfway entertaining, or possibly even learn something.

Be Sure to Follow Michael Online!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Williams/e/B07J4HP54G

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CerealSensei

Soundcloud (Podcast): https://soundcloud.com/cerealsensei

Blog: https://thecerealsensei.wordpress.com/

No Whining Wednesday – Don’t Drown Your Own Voice

Welcome back to another No Whining Wednesday! If this is your first time visiting this blog or if you are new to this segment, please visit the original No Whining Wednesday post HERE to learn more OR the No Whining Wednesday Page to access all previous episodes.

The No Whining Wednesday Badge

 

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Those who screw up and keep going have failed so many times that they are equipped to handle disappointment and therefore have the maturity and resilience to get back up and try again. You got this.”

– Yecheilyah

This was an inspirational word I posted to my social media early this week. I love quotes, inspirational, motivational and overall uplifting. There is something about the power of a positive word that can make you feel like you can conquer the world. When someone compliments you or gives you that good advice, something in your heart flutters and for a moment, all is right. This feeling may only last a second but in that time, all is right in the world. Or at least, in your world. This is so vital and so needed because there are not a lot of people investing good into the world. There are not a lot of people building up.

But, despite how much I love inspiring quotes and how much I read them, something struck me this week. While inspirational quotes from others is nice, there’s nothing wrong with using our own words to inspire others as well. Your experiences are unique to you. Your pain is unique to you. Your happiness is unique to you. Your life is your own. That is not to say there’s no power higher than you (ya’ll know better) but you have to walk these shoes is what I am saying. You have to plant these seeds.

That said, don’t sleep on yourself. You have the wisdom that comes from living and with that something to offer the world but if you never allow your voice to be heard, it can be drowned out by the voices of others.

What if I don’t know enough?

That has nothing to do with it. You don’t have to be perfect to share something that may help others. Personally, I am moved by realness. I want to know about real life situations because your struggles and how you overcome them is what connects you with other human beings. People who talk about their issues and how they’re dealing relate more to others than those who are somewhere in heaven.

Instead of relying so much on the words of others, sometimes it’s OK to give of our own pearls.

Every now and again, use the power of your own experience to inspire others and to lift yourself up. After all, it is what the people we quote have done themselves. They didn’t speak thinking we would quote them. They spoke because it was necessary and now their words have lived on throughout the centuries.

Something Genuine

howwritingtherapycanhelpyou

The door to the patio is open, and the screen door shields me from the insects that I may enjoy the brisk caress of the wind on my skin. And as I inhale the fresh taste of the evening air, enjoying the end of a peaceful day, I think about the genuine that often come from writing. You’d have to excuse the poetic tone of this post. It’s my thinking voice I suppose. The one I use when I’m writing this down in my journal before typing it, twirling the pen between my fingers and tapping it against my lips while staring out in space. Anyway, back to something genuine. To think back on my own writing or to read someone else’s, I feel often that there’s a realness here. Somewhere between the heart and spilled ink is an authenticity few will express verbally. Something about speaking without moving our lips causes us to speak the truth of our hearts. Something about writing it down instead brings about a depth. Something about the movement of mental messaging brings out the emotional intensity many will not express otherwise. I wonder if this is why writing is often associated with therapy. For what is not spoken is often written. Not that everyone writes for such a purpose, but it is historical that writing is an exercise that has caused many to heal or to reveal or stumble upon truths otherwise unknown or not dealt with. Something about how the subconscious mind is uprooted when we write. It is an interesting thought I sought to share before the memory or moment escaped me. Speaking of escape, it’s time I publish this post and retire this laptop for the night. I’ve got laundry to finish and this breeze sure feels good.

4 Things to Remember When it Works for Them (But Not For You)

1

What happens when you do something that worked for others but does not work for you? Sometimes a group of people can do the same things, but only one or a few will get the results they are looking for. There are many reasons why but there are really just four core reasons why:

  • It’s Not for You

What’s for you is for you and only you. Perhaps you weren’t built to fit those shoes and they weren’t built to fit yours. You’ve got your own purpose to fulfill. Of all the advice out there, no one can give you purpose. That thing gotta come from within. Surely others can show us the door, but we gotta walk through it. OK, so they did it that way, now tell me, what can you offer that is different? That’s what matters.

  • Who Wants It More?

The people who actually see results is usually the people whose actions show that they want it more. This person or persons will endure failure, persists during trial, and stay motivated even when things are slow. Bottom line, these are the 3% of the people who didn’t quit.

  • Who is Capable of Handling it, Once They Get It?

Next, the person or people who see results is also the person or people who understand the level of responsibility that comes with great authority. The more trustworthy you are, the more authority you have and the greater the responsibility it will require to carry it out. So, you wanna grow? Well, you gotta be willing to adjust to a bigger pot. With great authority comes greater responsibility.

  • Not About You

Finally, the person who starts to see results is usually the person who understands that the key to succeeding at anything is that its more about the people and less about themselves. It’s about being of service and providing value. The secret is that it’s not about you, it’s about the people. Support the people and the people will support you. Think less about what others can do for you  and more about what you can do for others.