There are 571 billionaires in the United States, and not one of those goddamned losers has decided to become Batman. But I decided to become a self-published author? How come I have the balls to follow my dreams and they can’t serve up a little Gotham justice? This world may never know.
With the second book published, a long list of things to do and many ideas bouncing around for book three I find myself reading Helen Sedwick’s book, Self-Publisher's Legal Handbook. This book has cause a lot of panic, stress, and the daunting realization that maybe I should have been more like those 571 billionaires. You know without the billions, better clothes, functioning cars, and hair that doesn’t poof when the humidity rises.
I’ve barely begun to get into this book’s meat and potatoes, in fact at the moment I’d consider myself still eating the salad. I’ve never considered myself an entrepreneur, but apparently that’s what I have become. Which is crazy because I barely understand finances as it is and for about year I was a loan auditor. Don’t ask me how that shit happened.
In her book, Sedwick’s talks about ISBNs, domain names, legal missteps, trademarks and sales taxes. These things scare the living shit out of me. Unlike the 571 Non-Batman billionaires, this broke college graduate doesn’t have much to invest in her hobby. However, whether I like it or not my business is a sole proprietorship and as I said in the past if I don’t treat this like a business then who will?
The most stressing thing to wrap my brain around at the moment is the imprint name. Sedwick’s says “An imprint name will make it less obvious that your book is self-published. Many bookstores, reviewers, bloggers, contest, and readers refuse to consider self-published work.” This has me worried, I’m not in the writing business to become the next Daniel Steel or Nora Roberts. I’m writing, because I like story telling. I’m publishing, because it’s that dream I’ve had ever since I was twelve. I’m selling… because I’m poor.
I don’t have a “Fictitious Business Name” or $100 to pay for one. I barely had the 60 bucks to pay for the image on my cover and order the books for my Goodreads giveaway. I know that I have bad credit because I’m a broke college student who lost her job for four months and couldn’t pay her student loans or utility bills. And Trademark protection? Current application fees for U.S. registration are $325 and up!
Now to be fair Sedwick does say that maybe doing all this is overkill. She says “How Much Protection Do You Need?” Safe to say I’m not writing the next Harry Potter book, my fan fiction stories are probably child’s play. Converting them and re-writing them isn’t really the next 50 Shades of Grey outbreak, but it does mean the world to me because it’s my passion. I just can’t afford to invest in it.
I’m terrified of filing taxes because it feels like I just learned how to file and now I’m obtaining a Federal Employer Identification Number for this self-publishing business. My business. When did that happen? My head is about ready to explode at the thought of it.
Sticking to Amazon and CreateSpace has been my decision because that’s what’s easier for me. I don’t have $250 to buy ten different ISBNs. They provide free ones for me and I while I know this means I’m not in total control of my work, I also know I can afford to make my car payment this month.
Publishing isn’t easy. Doing it on your own is even harder. This book wasn’t around when I took my dive into the publishing world, but I agree with many that it is something that has been direly needed in the world of self-publishing handbooks. Sedwick's expertise at the intersection of self-publishing and law is very clear. I do plan to keep reading this book and eventually getting to the desert of it all. I’m hoping that I’ll learn more about setting up a business, marketing, distribution, and filing taxes.
At the end of the day, I have one thing that 571 Non-Batman billionaires don’t have and that’s Helen Sedwick tweeting me personally to just take the self-pub process 1 step at a time and it won't seem depressing or daunting.
I know she’s right.