Assignment #5 was called A Self-Publisher is a Small Businessperson. This is where the rubber meets the road for the writer. Most things I’ve read about self-publishing say the challenge for the writer is the business part of self-publishing. I can’t say for myself. Right now I’m feeling pretty challenged about a lot of aspects of self-publishing including editing, copyrights and permissions. In these areas, I suspect an editor at a traditional publishing house would likely have your back.
We read a handout for this session that covered setting up your small business, identifying and complying with legal and regulatory requirements, record keeping and tax reporting, and contingency planning.
As with the other assignments, we had two worksheets to fill out: a business entity worksheet and a small business startup compliance checklist. Here is my response:
Okay, this is a little intimidating. But I suppose that may be the point — a reality check.
The reading materials were quite helpful. I’m not sure how I would have even known that I needed this information and these forms without them.
I believe my best plan is to start a LLC, primarily for liability concerns, but also for the tax benefits. My husband has an S-corp and I will consult with the accountant and lawyer we used to help us set it up.
I’m a little uncertain about some of the licensing steps because I live in West Chester, Ohio, which is a township. I’m not sure what city hall I need to go to. I did find a site online about licensing a business in West Chester, but it listed a variety of businesses, none of which applied.
Would I need a vendor’s license? They also had a miscellaneous permit, so I’m not sure what to do.
I went to the Ohio small business site and found that there are small business development centers, SBDCs, here. I plan to contact one located in the county in which I reside. Hopefully they will have good information for me there.
I downloaded all the recommended publications from the IRS site, but haven’t read them yet. I also visited the SBA (small business association) site and bookmarked it for later reference.
In summary, I understand there are licenses I need to acquire and tax responsibilities I need to understand. I have some resources to get started with.
Regarding a contingency plan, I have an external hard drive that automatically backs up my computer on a regular basis. That will not help if I have a fire or a natural disaster, like a tornado for instance. I might look into an online backup service, or consider backing up important files to my daughter’s computer and external hard drive. I also keep hard copies of everything.
I have an office set up with a good workspace and filing system.
I’m not sure about virus or malware protection because I use a Mac. This is something I will need to investigate.
So, this was an intimidating session, but helpful.
Our instructor offered to look over an excerpt of our manuscript. And by good fortune, I chose an excerpt that contained lyrics to a song and was promptly informed by the instructor that I could not included the copyrighted lyrics without permission. I should have known. That sent me into a panic of what other things might be in my memoir for which I need permission. I have now changed the names of every doctor, nurse and priest I write about. The only people who are named are family members. I will need written permission to publish what I’ve written about them. I will also need written permission for everyone who is included in a photograph.
I think I’d better learn how to write fiction.
Here is a short excerpt from my memoir (minus the lyrics). I have set the chapters up so that each one begins with a journal-type entry of the days when Annie was sick, diagnosed, and under the care of hospice, until her death. The second part of each chapter contains a vignette, or explanation of some aspect of Annie’s life or my relationship with her. Annie was born with severe brain damage. She couldn’t walk or talk and required the care of an infant, but she knew who we were, and she enjoyed our company. This excerpt is a vignette from the end of the 23rd out of 26 chapters.
I was at home babysitting Annie, and we were listening to the radio when her favorite song, Windy by the Association, came on.
“Annie! It’s our favorite song,” I yelled as I jumped up, grabbed an imaginary microphone, and started singing out loud along with the radio, in front of her chair. I replaced the name “Windy” with “Annie.”
“Everyone knows it’s Annie. . .”
I started marching to the beat of the words, “ Da da, bum bum bum bum.”
Annie got excited and started waving her right arm up and down. She had a big grin on her face. I had a captivated audience, and now I was in full swing. I ran over and jumped onto the sofa, still holding my imaginary microphone in my right hand and using big dramatic arm motions with my left. I was singing out loud. Emphasis on the loud.
I jumped back off the sofa, got behind Annie’s chair, and twirled her in a circle as I sang. Annie was laughing all the while. By the time the song was over I was short of breath, and I had worked Annie into a state of utter excitement. She was hollering and laughing and swinging her arm up and down with fervor.
“We love that song, don’t we Annie?” I said. “ Whew!” I collapsed to the floor, arms and legs flaying out from my sides in an exhausted position, going for one more chuckle from Annie.
Read Assignment #6