Is Independent Publishing for You?
By Linda Austin/Moonbridge Publications
updated April 2013
Independent publishing is not the same as self-publishing through a publishing services company such as Lulu, AuthorHouse, or Bookmasters. An indie publisher creates his or her own company and handles all aspects of book production, usually hiring an independent editor(s), designer, and printer. Indie publishers might use Amazon’s CreateSpace or Lulu.com, but will use their own ISBNs rather than those provided by CreateSpace or Lulu. The indie-publisher’s company is listed as the book publisher and the author is the legal owner of the book (or e-book) version produced.
Business Requirements: Determine a company name (usually a fictitious name) that is unique in your state. Choose a related website name and an available url (internet address) that matches. Register the company with your state. Upon formal receipt of state registration (obtain a sales tax id also), open a business checking account. Then register your business with your county and town. Each year thereafter you will be sent forms to fill out for renewals and taxes. Keep careful records of income (date, price, location of sale), expenses, and books sent free for reviews, donated, or gifted. Your income must be accounted for on your annual IRS and state tax filings.
Book Requirements: Copyright certificates, ISBNs (purchase a block of ten from Bowker), bar codes (your book printer may create these), an editor (not you), a cover designer (graphic designer specializing in books), an interior designer or formatter (for books, may be the same person as the cover designer)
Distribution Requirements: Many indie author/publishers use Lightning Source, Inc., (LSI) for print-on-demand digital printing. LSI provides for discounted wholesale through Ingram, a major seller of books to physical bookstores and libraries, and arranges for sales outlets via all online booksellers. Amazon CreateSpace (a publishing services company) can provide other services besides printing and puts the book on Amazon. Their Expanded Distribution option puts the book on other online seller sites. The Amazon Advantage program is for indie publishers unable to otherwise have a presence on Amazon, but it is not particularly cost-effective. Lulu.com is another publishing services company allowing authors to use their own ISBNs, but is more expensive to use than CreateSpace. Author website sales can be via PayPal or Google Checkout links.
Marketing Requirements: Write your book with your market (specific reader audience) in mind. Develop a business plan for marketing. A website is important. Other online options for publicity: blog, Twitter, Facebook (individual, Author and/or Page), LinkedIn. Post articles online (via E-zine articles, etc.) or submit articles to online magazines. Enter writing contests. Comment on other blogs or online groups of related importance or do guest posts. Post video on YouTube. Many indie authors do presentations followed by back-of-room book sales. Book signings are overrated unless you are popular and/or very outgoing—do book events instead at bookstores, libraries, schools. You must market no matter how your book is published.