What I Wish I Had Known Before Publishing My First Book?

Can I just be honest for a moment, when I first became an author, I treated it like a hobby or a side hustle. You see I did not set any goals outside of being a published author and more importantly I did not recognize my books were actually a business. But the deeper I dove into the author world, the more I came to realize that earning money from each book meant I had to pay taxes and purchasing inventory, traveling for author events, and even investing in a book coach, illustrations, edits, formatting, etc. meant I had write offs. I was quickly understanding that my passion project had an agenda much greater than I could have imagined. Naturally, the good news was I was an instant entrepreneur, but the bad news was I had no clue how to go from writer to CEO.

Over the years in working with other authors, I learned many suffered with the same concerns and if you know me than you know I am a firm believer in solving problems, so that's what I set out to do. I started taking business training and traveling for events that would help me understand how to properly set up my book business. Here's what I found, as authors we have opportunities to build business credit, apply for grants, and even hire our kids for tax breaks, but here's the kicker our book business must be set up correctly.

Below are the 8 steps to setting up your book business:

  1. Check your business name with your state to ensure its not already taken. Also, I strongly suggest checking your website/landing page domain name to make sure that it is also available. This way you are all set to purchase in both places for brand consistency. When purchasing your domain name, I suggest opting for the professional email address. Such as: hello@(authorname).com or info@(businessname).com

  2. Ensure you purchase a virtual address to ensure your home safety is never compromised. Your virtual address must be consistent with all areas of your business to help the odds of loan approvals. www.ipostal1.com is a popular option.

  3. I recommend having a separate business phone number. Google voice is an option that many business owners use. This creates separation from your personal line, but also it makes writing off the extra line simpler for tax purposes. Verizon also has add on options for business owners.

  4. File for an LLC (limited liability company) with the state usually this can be done online. There are affordable services that can assist with this process, but it's pretty straightforward if you opt to do it yourself. www.incfile.com can assist with the set up.

  5. Order your free EIN number, this is like your business' social security number, so make sure you keep it somewhere safe. You can obtain this number at www.irs.gov

  6. Obtain a free DUNS number from www.dnb.com, so you can start building your credit. I also recommend signing up for the www.nav.com credit monitoring service because the monthly payment goes towards helping you boost your business credit score. Nav is like the equivalent of Credit Karma but for business.

  7. Business Banking Account x 3. I suggest starting with an operating account with 3-6 months of capital for your monthly author expenses, a tax account (confirm with your CPA the % that should be deposited with each sale made) and an owner's draw account for your personal expenses. In the future, you can add an investment account, as well.

  8. Knowing your correct NAICS code can be beneficial for many reasons including applying for grants and government contracts, certain certifications and even applying for loans. You can find that information here: Census.gov/naics

Lastly, I want to end with a bonus, which is looking into general liability and possibly media insurance for your business. www.hartford.com is a great place to start your search. I will warn you media insurance is pricey and hard to get approved with any companies, but it protects you if someone feels you slandered them in any way in your book.

I dive even deeper into these subject matters with my upcoming nonfiction workbook, "Sis, You've Got More Than a Book." I cannot wait to share it with you all in the fall. It talks about countless write offs as an author, how to properly hire your kids, how to build business credit and so much more, so definitely stay tuned!


Audrey O. Hinds