Self-publishing paperwork

December 27, 2010

If you thought taking the self publishing route was a shortcut, think again.  I’ve enountered several unexpected requirements, and new ones emerge at random intervals. Not to bore you but here are a few.

The initial publication process went fairly smoothly thanks to an experienced guide pointing me in the right direction.  However, I had to go back to him at intevals to understand what some of the words meant on various forms, and what entries and terms I should avoid.  So far no problems, just annoyance.

Once the Federal recording was accomplished, ISBN number obtained, Federal IRS Employer Identification number as an independent publisher acquired (for Federal tax reporting purposes), etc., there were similar steps for California.  Needed were a Contra Costa Seller’s permit number, and a State Board of Equalization number (for filing sales tax returns on the sales.)  Thinking positive here.

The third level was the local accounting and banking.  Since I expected sales to largely be through and thus reported to me periodically with all the requisite data, that process seemed simple enough. I obtained a VISA account and a separate checking account with the local bank (strongly recommended!) to specifically record book sales information and not otherwise impair my household bookkeeping. So far that’s worked okay.

The good news is there have been some sales so I have data to add to the required tax reports, although no profits as of yet. But aggravating the accounting process was an unexpected (and unrequested) “update” to the bookkeepoing software I’ve been using for years for my personal and my wife’s business activities.  The software upgrade was automatic and I can’t step back.  (Modern technology there you know.) Still not sure i’ve resolved our accounts with the changes but am too far along now other than “put out the fires” as they occur.  Most are frustrating and not fatal.  The family files are unaffected. The book sales area has demanded the greatest attention.

All in all, not difficult, somewhat unexpected, but certainly annoying.  The bookkeeping change cost me the most time and frustration.  Just another of life’s challenges met. Hope your experience runs smoother.

Proof in hand

November 16, 2010

Friday last, the postman delivered the Publisher’s proof copy of my novel. I’m in the process of proofing it one last time before ordering copies for friends, family, and sales.  Don’t know how long it will take to get a shipment in hand – before the next WOTJ meeting I hope. Thanks for your support and encouragement.  This has been an interesting experience.  😉

Progress report – Almost there

October 24, 2010

Development of a website took a turn for the better when my nephew agreed to create one <> and manage it for me.  He’s had several years experience with websites, and the price is right. I hadn’t known he was in the business.

The latest email from Pete, my “agent,” reported only a few minor tweeks to the cover remain before our final material can be sent to Lightning Source for the actual publishing step.  Will set up the account with them this coming week.  Once Lightning Source arrangements and actual production are accomplished, I guess I can claim being published. From there it’s to’s site for listing.  Other vendors will follow.  Then an e-book version as a second wave is next.  It’s possible to have the paperback version available to friends and family before first of the year, perhaps even earlier. I don’t anticipate wearing my bashful hat once that goal has been reached.


October Updates

October 16, 2010

#5:  Obtaining a web site  – 10/16/10

I had presumed that creating a web site to help promote my book would be simple.  For some, perhaps?  For me, more than intended.  Those I’ve spoken with uniformly recommend that I obtain one.  At this juncture it may appear, if at all, in the distant future.

My preliminary exploration included this criteria – I wanted something reasonably simple, one I could manage and update myself when and if necessary.  Also wanted something inexpensive – under $300 (preferably less) if possible.  My current personal BLOG seemed not the vehicle to promote the book.  Also need one-on-one help/guidance in assembling the layout and features from someone who knows the process.

So far have explored (apparently exclusively for BLOGs), and which seems to have the capability and features I need.  Problem with them is an apparent reluctance to provide some way to TALK with someone there in the know.

Another wrinkle:  I want to use <>. That domain is registered to my nephew (for his son 7 years old – also named Jack).  He’s willing to relinquish control to me.  The mechanics of making the exchange as a 3-way transfer [him to me to the Web Hosting outfit] has encountered barriers. I’m convinced the advice provided when I began this writing pilgrimage was correct: the easy part is writing the story.

#6:  Progress Report – Oct 16, 2010

Email this morning from Pete, my “agent,” reported only a few minor tweeks to the cover remain before our final .pdf file of the story can be sent to LightningSource for the actual publishing step.  From there it’s to’s site for listing.  Other vendors will follow.  Then e-book version as a second wave.  It’s possible to have it available to friends and family before first of the year, perhaps even earlier.

A unique touch to scene breaks

October 10, 2010

Those of you familiar with my story recall that my primary character, Mike, carried his father’s rank emblem with him in his pocket at all times.  The emblem, a brass oak leaf, is used as the rank symbol for Navy Lieutenant Commanders, and for Army and Marine Corps Majors.  Mike’s reliance on the emblem as a token of his father’s guidance made it a likely candidate to replace the 3-dot ellipsis symbol often used to denote a scene break.  It might also be used as a publisher’s icon on the book’s spine.  Pete was able to craft the emblem and size it suitably for the scene breaks in the final manuscript.


#3 – What do I call myself?

September 25, 2010

#3: What do I call myself?

Pete Masterson advised I pick a publisher name, one I’d be doing business as (DBA) since my intention was to have a commercial publishing firm do the actual hands-on printing and distribution work. This need was unexpected, but, I understand is relatively standard. Fortunately I’d learned of the need before my visit to the Livermore library. The Bowker volumes there offered a mind-boggling record of publishers whether or not a DBA firm. Easy enough so far, right?

Pete advised I not use the DBA name I’d used in my earlier consulting work. Also recommended I not use my actual name as part of the DBA name selected. After a few days trying to imagine something catchy, and without noticeable success, I narrowed the list of potential DBA names to about 50. The Bowker listing search cut that number to about twelve. My wife cut it down to 5. The ones we really found attractive were either already in use or had negative regional implications. A coin flip selected “Alamo Hills Press.” It’s now been approved and filed by the Contra Costa County registry as a legitimate (and taxable, I find) doing-business-as (fictitious) name.

#2 – Is my proposed title unique?

September 20, 2010

The self-publishing journey involved exploring relatively unknown realms and issues.  Two key element of my story needed to be resolved.  The first, was my intended title unique, or would I run the risk of controversy with some author who had chosen the same title?  Thanks to the multiple search engines available on the web, that search took the better part of a day. It turned out my title was unique so far as the web was concerned.  There were numerous references to “Dangerous Waters” but “In Dangerous Waters” had apparently not been claimed before.

The second stage of the same search involved searching Bowker’s international registry “Books in Print.”  “Just check the library.  They all have copies,” was the advice received from friends.  Not so, in our area at least.  Only the main library in downtown San Francisco, and the new library in Livermore were listed as having copies.  Livermore was closer so problem solved. A simple search of the Bowker collection confirmed that no other author or publisher had duplicated my proposed title as of the 2008 edition, the latest published.

My self-publishing journey – step 1

September 16, 2010

Since my last posting you probably wondered if I’d forgotten all of you.  Not so.

Earlier in the Spring I announced my intention to end the fruitless search for an agent for my novel “In Dangerous Waters.”  The novel is complete.  I think it’s a good story, and most of my critique group seem to agree.

Self-publishing (dealt with in several terms, I find) has become increasingly popular, even in the case of some big name authors.  I took a short course on the topic and did some reading.  If others can do that, why can’t I?  I can, and will.  Or more directly, as I post this, I have – begun the steps, that is.  I’m not “published” yet but soon will be.  I’d like to share some of that excursion with you.

Since the BLOG provides a convenient path to tell you of my experiences, I plan to post several times, usually as relevant events occur in the self-publishing process as I experience them.  I welcome your questions on any related issue.

For starters, let’s look at my first active step.  The class and reading proved some background, a place to pick up some of the terminology and an overall understanding of how the self-publishing process compared with the tradition path.  They also convinced me I needed experienced help if I hoped for a book in hand, and eventually available in e-book format as well.

A member of the CWC Mt. Diablo Branch, through the “Back Fence”, recommended I contact Pete Masterson, himself a published author, who specializes in formatting content for authors as well as managing the entire process from raw draft to book in hand.  Pete is well-regarded and past president of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (that may not be the exact title.) Pete and I hit if off right away with a phone call and a lengthy discussion.  He appeared pleased I’d done much of my homework, would be a cooperative client, and had a good idea of what was ahead of me, but simply needed some experienced help.

So we began.


July 4, 2010

Just want you all to realize I’m still alive although seldom on the WOTJ BLOG. Just sent in a semi-query to the Korean War National Museum asking if they knew of an agent/publisher interested in that war and related stories. Sent email on July 4 so any response should come faster than snail mail. These days even getting a response is a plus.

A new direction

December 27, 2009

Hope this holiday season and the year ahead are memorable for all WOTJ members – that is, memorable in the positive sense.

After 50 rejections I’ve chosen to explore self-publishing “In Dangerous Waters.”  I welcome any ideas, suggestions and/or recommendations.  Have found four publishers who have interesting brochures, but will continue to explore.  In the meantime a new novel is progressing.  I’ve always claimed the virtue of patience; guess I was mistaken.