Self-publishing is not a complicated business. But, at the end of the day, it is a business. As such, it should be handled in a businesslike manner. Part of that is creating a name for your publishing company. And you should set up your own publishing company.
The reasons why you should have a publishing company should be obvious. Releasing your books under a trade name looks a thousand times more professional than just putting the book out there with only your name on it. Plus, establishing a publishing imprint will help give you the proper mindset about handling the business side of your writing. On top of which, should you wish to become a professional speaker or make sales to schools and the libraries, you stand a lot better chance of making a good impression if you’re doing so as the CEO of your own publishing company than as an individual who just decided to write a book one day.
For my own part, I’ve registered my publishing company name as a trade name. There are other ways of establishing your company as a business. But let me tell you what I did and why I chose to do it that way.
I operate my publishing company under a trade name (or d/b/a or “doing business as”), which basically means I’m operating as a sole proprietor. I am in the business and the business is me. It is the least expensive option available to me and involves the absolute minimum filing requirements.
There are other ways of formalizing a small business with one employee. The one recommended most is the limited liability company or LLC. There are good reasons to consider making your publishing company an LLC. One of them is not complete protection from personal liability.
As this article from LegalZoom points out,”one key advantage to an LLC is that members are not usually held personally liable for company debts that they have not personally guaranteed.” Please note the use of the
weasel word qualifier—usually. Making your business an LLC won’t completely protect you from personal liability if your business is sued. If you read further, you’ll see there’s a concept called “piercing the corporate veil.” This applies (in certain cases) when courts find there isn’t a real separation between the company and its owner(s).
In my case, I weighed the cost and formalities of forming an LLC against the likelihood that someone would sue me, and came out in favor of being a sole proprietor operating under a trade name. It’s really that simple. And I can always change my mind and form an LLC, if I ever get to the point where it seems beneficial.
If you’d like to read in more depth about the pros and cons of forming an LLC and a comparison with other types of business entities, just click here.
Here’s a video where I
did a half-assed sloppy semi-articulate talked about this as quickly as I could. 🙂