My second book was self-published. I was hesitant to follow this route, at first, because I have seen some books written and self-published by their author that were very poorly done. Some covers don’t look professional, the word choices were poor and grammar was sloppy. Today, these books still appear, but more people are publishing books without the benefit and hassle of a traditional publisher. Some authors have amazing success stories from their efforts. Nevertheless, it is fairly easy to spot a self-published book if there is no publisher logo on the cover or the publisher is listed, inside the book, as the book company where the author produced their book.
My bias against self-published books has lessened significantly since doing it myself, but that is not true for many people, including book stores. Even independent book companies will only carry your novel or self-help book if it looks professional. They prefer that it would be published by a traditional publisher, too, for several reasons.
- Their customers also have bias against self-published “new” authors
- Books from print-on-demand sources usually cannot be returned if they don’t sell
- Most self-published authors have little marketing and promotion experience
- Working directly with an author, not a distributor can be difficult, at times
While you can’t totally “hide” the fact that your book is self-published, there are few things to do that will ingratiate you with a book seller. The professional appearance can be enhanced by having a publisher. This sounds contradictory, but it isn’t. You can form a legitimate publishing company and sell your books through them. It isn’t too complicated, though you should consult the tax rules in your state to see what is involved. I formed ESENGO PUBLISHING for this purpose. I had a friend design a logo and I went through the process that is required in Nebraska to form a company.
First you have to come up with a unique name for your company. Start with your, already good, imagination. Then scour the internet to find out if there is another such company. It is a good idea to be thorough, using several search engines and business title websites.
Once you have a catchy, unique, name, in Nebraska you need to register the company. There is a form to fill out (I have zero employees) and the fee here is one hundred dollars. Once you hear back from the state you must put a notice in a locally circulated newspaper announcing your company. For my local paper this cost twenty-five dollars.
I was able to find a local bank where business checking accounts are free. I even received a Foreman grill as a gift and small safe deposit box for one year free of charge. I use this account to receive my royalties from Amazon and Smashwords and deposit book sales money into that account. I plan to use it for any further expenses for this book as well.
If you sell your own books, you legally must charge sales tax. It is dependent upon the location where the book is sold. In my city the rate is 7.5%, but in other towns around it is different. If I sell a book I keep a record of the sales tax and will send in a tax form with a payment to the state for the sales tax collected. It is not wise to ignore this, because it adds up. I use my Paypal account and the card-swiper to make sales (I also accept cash and checks). The Paypal app on my phone calculates the sales tax and allows you to send an email receipt to the purchaser. Using the app and swiper costs 3%, but the convenience is worth it. There are other companies with similar card readers and you may want to check out their plans.
My logo appears on the back cover of CONGO MISSION and on the Title page.
Esengo is a word in a language spoken in Congo called, Lingala. It means “Joy.” I chose this word, because it is unique. Few people in the US know what I means which lends a little bit of mystery and I am confident that there is no other publishing company with the name. If you “Google” the word you also find a song written by Selah called “Esengo.” It is one of my favorite songs. The African gray parrot in the logo is special to me. When we lived in Congo our neighbor had such a parrot. It was named “Esengo.”
Stay in touch – watch for my new novel – Witness in The Window : a Jack Sharp Novelby