Authorpreneurship, Part 5

Now that you have your files organized and have an online presence on a number of social media sites, it’s time to take the next step in promoting your brand and your books as well as to protect your assets.

Newsletters

Almost all authors who are successful at promotion have achieved that success through the use of a newsletter. Before you can have a newsletter, though, you have to have a list of subscribers to send it to!

Building an Email List

Acquiring email addresses takes time, but it’s well worth the effort. You’ll need a place to keep the email addresses, so start by setting up an account at MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor or other email service provider. You can usually start free and even send out newsletters for free until your list reaches a certain size.

From where can you acquire email addresses? Well, remember that newsletter signup on your website? Set it up so the addresses go directly to your email service provider. If you ever need to get a list for some reason, most providers offer the means to download the list directly to your computer. Many authors offer a free book as an incentive to get sign-ups. You can also gain addresses from online promotions, such as Facebook parties, and from raffle basket entry forms at book conventions. When you’re just getting started, ask another author in your genre if you can borrow theirs—and then offer a cross-promotion opportunity.

The only time you’ll collect anyone’s snail mail address is if you’re needing to send a contest winner or a beta reader SWAG (stuff we all get), paperback books or greeting cards.

Promote Using a Newsletter

The email service providers offer a number of templates to use when authoring your newsletter. Take a look through the offerings and find one that’s the best visual representation of you. You may find one that’s close and that with a bit of tweaking, will work for you. Add your branding graphics and then start writing. Include an image of your latest book cover, a short blurb about the book (remember, some people will be reading your newsletter on their mobile device), and links to the buy sites. Add an article or feature that’s related to your book. Content types can include photos, data, recipes, comics (be careful of copyright infringement), and blog posts. Give your audience a compelling reason to subscribe, share and return.

How often you send out a newsletter depends on you and how much information you want to share with your list. Some authors only send newsletters when they have a new release while others send out one every week (be careful not to spam). Do what works for you.

Promote Using a Blog

There are so many blogs out there, it’s hard to get discovered. A blog requires regular postings, so if you decide to write one, work with other authors to provide content. Then cross-post with their blogs to extend your readership. Create content that’s consistently interesting, useful and engaging to your audience. Sometimes that means you have to think outside the box.

Promote Using Social Media

If you’re constantly trying to sell-sell-sell your books in social media posts, you’ll find you’ll quickly lose those who “Liked” your page. When you have a release, do send out tweets, post the announcement on your Facebook author page and the book’s page (even if it doesn’t have any “Likes”, people who find the page will see the release information), post a pic of the cover on Instagram, and share your Pin. Take advantage of the cross-promotion opportunities using a ThunderClap or Headstarter campaign. There are a number of Facebook groups you can join to help with these  endeavors—you support their campaigns in exchange for them to support yours to help you reach the required threshold of participants. As a result, you may find authors with whom you can do future cross promotion.

Promote Using Email Promoters

When you don’t yet have a large email list or want to reach potential readers who may not yet know about you, consider “renting” a list by employing an email promoter.

There are so many email promoters who claim to have a large subscriber list, it’s hard to know which one to use and if what you’re paying is worth it. Some are better at free and 99¢ promotions—BookBub Featured Deal rules in  this particular arena, especially for those promoting a 99¢ book—while others don’t require a discount to feature your book (The Fussy Librarian). Costs range from free to $1000 depending on how many subscribers they have in your genre. Most won’t take a book priced higher than $4.99.

Here are just a few to consider:

  • BookBub Featured Deal (hard to get, expensive, but well worth it)
  • Ebook News Today (ENT)
  • kBoards (Chute Technologies)
  • The Fussy Librarian (your book has to have 10 reviews of at least 4 stars, but once you’ve had one featured, you can do new releases with no reviews)
  • Choosy Bookworm
  • Read Freely
  • Freebooksy/Bargain Booksy/Red Feather (Written Word Media)
  • Hot Zippy (Bargain eBook Hunter, PixelScroll, Romance eBook Deal)
  • All Romance ebooks (Featured Titles and Deal of the Day)
  • Book Gorilla
  • Book-a-licious
  • Booktastik
  • eBook Soda
  • eBookDealoftheDay (UK)

Remember the note about stacking ads? To get the most out of your promotion dollars, use these services to do just that. Schedule several over a period of a couple of weeks and then keep track of your daily sales to determine which ones work the best for you. On the next release (or 90 days later), use just the services that worked the best for your first book and do it again.

Promote Using Advertisements

Since print magazines are slowly disappearing, more and more book advertising is being done online. If you decide to try advertising in an online magazine, focus on the publications your audience reads. Target specifically to people with particular interests, because you’ll want to a high return on your investment (ROI). And be sure your advertisement looks professional! If it looks the least bit amateurish, consider hiring your book cover artist or another designer to do your ads. Remember, you’re promoting your book as well as your brand.

Promote Using SWAG

Some authors will tell you that SWAG never sold a book, but others swear by the fact that people rarely toss bookmarks or the useful freebies they collect at book signings and conventions. Whatever you give away should include your brand. Although it can be specific to a book, you still want your brand front and center. And remember—book-specific SWAG won’t be as useful for the next book, so you may want to come up with a giveaway that will work for you and your brand no matter what book you happen to be promoting.

Now that you have a handle on promotion, it’s time to work on protecting  your work.

Protecting Your Copyright

Although your book is technically copyrighted the moment you started writing it, take the next step and register the copyright. Got to http://copyright.gov. A simple copyright currently costs $35 while a standard copyright (necessary if you’ve included an excerpt to another book in the back) is $55.00. Try to do this within three months of publishing your book.

Fighting Piracy

Argh! Book pirates are out there, posting your books on sites that supposedly allow anyone to download them for free (or in exchange for giving your credit card information). The “legitimate” sites offer DMCA forms you can complete so that the links to your books will be removed, but it’s a bit like playing Wack-a-Mole since your book may come down from one site and then appear the next day on another. You’ll be spending way too much time filling out forms rather than writing if you try to fight every instance of your book appearing on a pirate site. Not all the sites even have your book—most just have a link to a server where your book might or might not be present.

If you’re concerned about piracy (and you should be), a better option is to hire a firm to do the sword fighting for you. DMCA Force and MUSO offer anti-piracy services for a nominal fee, freeing you up to spend your time writing the next book.

Backing Up Your Data

Digital assets are valuable! You’ve spent days, weeks, months—maybe even years—writing your manuscript. Invested time in tracking expenses and royalties, doing research, creating e-books. All it takes is one computer crash, or a lightning storm, or a fire, or a stray cosmic ray for you to lose it all. Don’t take chances!

Set up an automagic backup for your entire computer or tablet.

  • Time Machine on the iMac (just requires an external hard drive)
  • Windows Backup and Restore
  • Employ a cloud-based backup

Manually back up files onto a thumb drive or an external hard drive and store it in a fire-proof box or in your safe deposit box. Swap it out with an update on a regular basis. That way, if the unthinkable happens, you’ll be able to restore your business and get back to writing.

Last Thoughts

Writing is a business, whether you do it as a hobby or to make a living. If you look and act professionally, other will perceive you to be a professional. Mind your P’s and Q’s. Reciprocate. And, finally, when you finish a book, start another.

Be sure to leave any questions in the comments section. We reply quickly! Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

Authorpreneurship, Part 4

When we ended Part 3, we were explaining how to spend 15 minutes a day at marketing. Here are some of the particulars.

Promoting

Using Your Website

When setting up your website, be sure to acquire your author name or brand as your URL. When choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to host your site, avoid providers that require you to have advertisements—no one wants to see clutter when they visit a website.

If you’re not able to able to do the work to build a website yourself, hire a designer to do it for you. If you can’t afford one, offer to do some work in trade, such as writing for them. Need ideas for an attractive website? Visit Top 29 Author Websites for a look at some of the best.

Keep in mind when you set up your site that it needs to be scalable—you’ll be writing more books, so there needs to be a way to add more pages (one for every book or series). Be sure to include the following:

  • Book pages with buy links
  • Author information
  • News
  • Reviews
  • Contact information (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, etc.)
  • Newsletter signup

Since you’ll want to own the #1 spot on Google’s rankings for your brand and book, you need to control the messaging at all times.

  • On the book’s webpage, embed one-click-to-purchase / pre-order links for all your retailers for each book
  • Sign up as an affiliate with the retailers and add the links to increase revenue
  • Link your website on your bio across all the social media sites
  • Any book marketing content you create (blog posts, for example) should include a link to your site
  • When sending links to reviewers and reporters, use your URL instead of a retailer’s product page link

Creating an Author Facebook Page

Unlike your personal Facebook page, an author page is where you want to post information about you in your life as an author and about your books.

  • Create a page at Facebook Create A Page
  • Choose Artist, Band or Public Figure
  • Select “Author” from the Choose a Category pop-down menu and type in your author name
  • Upload a cover image that includes your book(s)
  • Upload your author photo as your icon
  • Invite your friends to “Like” the page (you need to start somewhere)
  • Over time, the “Likes” and “Followers” will organically increase as you participate in promotional opportunities and as more people discover and read your books

Creating a Twitter Page

Although there are some who swear by Twitter to sell books, others will tell you it doesn’t work for them. Even if you never tweet anything, others will be tweeting about you or your books, so you at least need an account. If you plan tweet on a regular basis, you can automate your tweets with third-party software like Hootsuite.

  • Create an account at Twitter
  • Complete your profile
  • Upload a cover image that spotlights your book (it can even be the same as the one you use for Facebook, although the size requirement is slightly different)
  • Upload your author photo
  • Use that short Twitter phrase you created earlier to describe yourself (don’t use a link to a book—this is about you and your brand)

Creating a Pinterest Board

Pinterest has long been a favorite for saving recipes and images of favorite people and stuff, but it’s also a great marketing tool for your brand and your books.

  • Create an account at Pinterest
  • Create a board and name it your author name
  • Click “Add a Pin”
  • Upload your book cover
  • Add the short description of your book (you should find it in your Synopsis folder) and list where it can be purchased
  • Pin it!
  • Repeat for all your books

Using Other Sites

There are a number of sites that can help promote you at little or no cost. Be sure to take advantage of them!

  • Amazon Central Author Page
    • Add your bio
    • Claim your books!
    • Add your upcoming events like book signings and book conventions
    • Add the links to your blog and Twitter account
  • AuthorsDB
  • Authorgraph (your readers can get your digital autograph for their e-books!)
  • BookBub (become a partner and set up your author page)
  • Independent Author Network (if you can’t afford a website of your own, this is the next best)
  • The Romance Reviews (okay, so this for romance authors, but there are similar sites for all genres)
  • The Romance Studio

And dozens more!

Creating a Book’s (or Series’) Facebook Page

Why does your book need its own Facebook page? You don’t have to get “Likes” and post from it, although you can. The real reason you want your book to have its own page is so that you can run Facebook ads from it instead of from your  Facebook author page.

  • Create the page at Facebook Create A Page
  • Choose Entertainment > Book or Book Series
  • Upload a cover that features the book
  • Upload the audiobook cover of your book or create an icon from your book cover and use that
  • Complete the details in the “About” section (there are fields for the ISBN, book blurb, etc.)

Creating Ads on Facebook

When you promote from the book’s Facebook page, it looks like the book is selling itself. That way, you’re not the one saying, “Buy my book” all the time.

  • Link your ad to a sales site—you’re not looking for “Likes” or followers here—you’re looking to get “Clicks” to the sales site so you can sell books
  • Use your 9-15-word description as the hook
  • Target a specific audience—use the granularity that Facebook provides, such as the appropriate locale, age range, sex, and “likes” information to drill down to the best, most likely target for your book
  • Some use the default image that appears from the sales site while other upload a custom image. Be sure to follow Facebook’s guidelines for images with respect to the amount of text on them. Book covers are now exempt from many of the restrictions Facebook puts on other ads, although if your cover shows too much skin, the autobots may reject it. Simply file an appeal so a human can take a look, and remind them that your book is targeted to an audience over 18 (if applicable) when you file your appeal
  • Set the budget per day and schedule your ad to run for at least a week
  • Revisit your targeting and budget if your ad doesn’t seem to be getting you “Clicks”
  • Need more help? Mark Dawson is the master at Facebook ads (he spends thousands on ads because he’s made them work). You can find out more at Self Publishing Formula.

That’s it for now. In Part 5, we’ll continue to list promotional opportunities, including building your newsletter list and using your newsletter, blog, social media and email promoters to reach potential readers. Keep on writing (and doing that 15 minutes a day of marketing)!

Authorpreneurship, Part 3

One of the most difficult aspects of being an author is the need to market and promote your books. Most would prefer to simply write the next book and hope their other books will be discovered on their own. It could happen. But to ensure your book is discovered, here are some steps you can take.

Asking for Book Reviews

The more reviews there are for your book, the more your book will gain visibility on a retailer’s site. How do you get reviews, you wonder? Ask!

At the end of your book, add the following paragraph (or something like it):

Thank you for taking the time to read Book Title. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend. Thank you. Author Name.

To increase your book’s reviews on release day

  • Arrange for a review with an e-magazine (InD’Tale Magazine reviews independently published books, for example) or a respected publication or service
  • Before you upload your e-books on retail sites, set up your paperback on CreateSpace
  • Send out advanced review copies (ARCs) to your beta readers (these can be e-books or paperbacks you’ve ordered as author copies from CreateSpace)
  • Request that reviewers post their reviews on CreateSpace
  • Once you have ten to twenty or more reviews, then publish the e-book on Amazon. All the reviews from CreateSpace will port over to your book’s page on Amazon when the e-book is linked with your paperback version.

Branding

Using Startup Techniques

Before you can develop your brand, it helps to know a bit more about to whom you’re trying to appeal.

Know Your Audience

When you wrote your book, let’s hope you had a specific reader in mind. That reader and others like him or her are your audience.

  • Learn which social media they use. Younger readers are using Instagram versus Facebook, for instance
  • Learn where they spend their time on the web. Do they read blogs? If so, which ones?
  • Learn who is influencing your target readership and then you’ll know where to target the right audience in the right place
  • Contribute valuable content on the platforms to which your audience already pays attention
  • Attract an audience to your platform.

Application

Your author name is your brand.

  • Develop a “look and feel” that fits you and your books
    • Work with a designer if you don’t know where to start
  • Apply the brand to everything your produce
    • Business cards
    • Website
    • Blog site
    • Facebook author page
    • Twitter page
  • Create a Twitter phrase that best describes you in 15 words or less
  • Look professional!

Marketing

For most authors, the least enjoyable or likeable part of authorpreneurship is the marketing. We just want to write!

Making a Plan

In this day and age, marketing fall on an author’s shoulders. Even traditional publishers are requiring authors to take on the marketing responsibilities (and the associated cost). If you are traditionally published and receive an advance, be sure to read your contract as it may stipulate your advance be used for advertising your book.

Start your marketing before your book is even published. Remember the audience for which you wrote your book? That’s who you’ll be targeting.

  • Decide how much you can afford to spend. If you’re not currently bringing in a regular royalty from existing books, start with $100 or more.
  • Decide where you want to spend your marketing dollars and make a plan that will help your book get discovered right from the beginning. We’ll cover some options in Part 5, including ads, blog tours, email blasts and newsletters.
  • You’ll find you’ll need to go through a bit of trial and error as you run ads—what works for some doesn’t work for others.
  • A 90-day cycle works for many authors.
    • Running a series of “stacked” ads (ads placed on a variety of sites over a period of several days) ups visibility and generates sales that eventually decline after about 90 days.
    • Repeat the above.
  • When you have more than one book to market, you’ll find running a series of stacked ads on a regular basis keeps your sales numbers up to help even out the peaks and valleys.

Making Marketing an Everyday  Task

Commit to spending 15 minutes a day on marketing. In those fifteen minutes, you can do one or more of the following:

  • Update your website
  • Place ads (Facebook, book promotion sites, e-mags, e-mail book blasters)
  • Send a tweet
  • Set up a newsletter campaign
  • Write a newsletter article
  • Manage newsletter subscriptions
  • Work with a blogger to feature your book (remember that media kit you created?)
  • Set up a book’s Facebook page (more about this in Part 4)
  • Post from your Facebook author page
  • Update your Pinterest board (more about this in Part 4)

That’s it for now. Check back for Part 4, where we’ll cover promotion using a variety of options. Happy writing!

 

Authorpreneurship, Part 2

As an author, you may write using a computer, a tablet, a pen or even a pencil—part of your manuscript may have originated on a cocktail napkin—but eventually your manuscript and all the supporting files necessary to publish it are all digital. Those number tracking files you created in Part 1? They’re all digital as well. These digital assets need a dedicated home on a computer where they’re easy to find and access.

Organizing Business Files

Whether you have a computer all to yourself or share one with others, you can ensure your files are organized and easily accessible by creating the following series of folders.

In your Documents folder, create a folder named BookStuff (or a name that will unique to you and your author business). Inside that folder, create the following folders:

  • Audio
  • Author
  • Book Title (your first novel)
  • Book Title 2 (your second novel)
  • Book Title x (your last novel)
  • Expenses
  • Royalties
  • Promotion
  • Website

Audio

If you haven’t yet considered putting your books into audio, you’ll want to eventually. This folder is where you’ll keep audio samples, auditions, checklists, and contracts for audiobook production.

Author

You know those head shots you had taken at the last book convention you attended? Or the selfies you took so you would have a photo to use on book retailer sites? This is where they get stored along with your author bio in all its various lengths.

Book Title

This folder ends up as Grand Central Station for all the digital files used in the creation and distribution of your book. More about this and all your other “Book” folders in a few minutes.

Expenses

Remember that expense report you created in Part 1? This is where it resides along with any digital versions of expenses you might have to retrieve in the future (make a folder just for those inside this one to help keep things tidy).

Royalties

Remember the royalties spreadsheet you created in Part 1? This is where it resides. This is also the folder in which you’ll want to create individual folders for each retailer so you’ll have a place to keep their monthly or quarterly reports. The structure looks something like this (yours will vary according to  which retailers carry your books):

  • Amazon
    • 2015
    • 2106
  • Audible (or whatever company distributes your audiobook)
    • 2015
    • 2016
  • B&N
    • 2015
    • 2016
  • CreateSpace
    • 2015
    • 2016
  • Draft2Digital
    • 2015
    • 2016
  • Google Play
    • 2015
    • 2016
  • iBooks
    • 2015
    • 2106
  • Kobo
    • 2015
    • 2016
  • Smashwords
    • 2015
    • 2016

Promotion

This is the folder in which you want to keep the files having to do with your brand (your individual books each get their own promotion folder). Store art files and any supporting files used to make bookmarks, swag, advertisements, book signing displays, vertical displays, signage, banners, website information (but not the actual web files),  etc. As you accumulate these, you can figure out the best folder names to use to help keep everything easy to find. If you find you’re ordering products from the same retailers, you’ll want them to have their own folders. Keeping past order information makes it easier to reorder and helps with price comparisons for future ordering.

Website

Here’s where you’ll keep all the files in support of your website. The structure will be something like this:

stylesheet.css
public html/
images/
scripts/

Even if you’re not the webmaster of your own site, you should have a copy of all the files necessary to rebuild your site should something catastrophic happen to your webmaster’s files. Better safe than sorry!

Organizing Book Files

Every book you write and publish results in dozens of supporting files. Besides your manuscript, you end up with cover files, various e-books formats, a character bible, images you might have used for inspiration, and your synopsis. Here’s how to organize them for easy retrieval.

Remember that “Book Title” folder you created earlier? The one for your very first book? Inside that folder, create the following folders:

  • ACX (or whatever company you use to produce the audio version of your book)
  • Bookfiles
  • Characters
  • Cover
  • A folder for every retailer (Amazon, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, etc.)
  • Media Kit
  • Promotion
  • Research
  • Reviews
  • Synopsis

Here’s how to use these folders.

ACX

This is where you store the audio files for each chapter of your book once production is complete.  Also include the retail sample and any other supporting files, such as the audition script and final book PDF you had your narrator use.

Bookfiles

This is where you want to keep the manuscript as well as any source files you use to create the book. These can include files in Word, Scrivener, InDesign or whatever you used to author your book.

Characters

Your book’s characters need a home, and this is it. Store the images you used as inspiration as well as your character bible here.

Cover

You’ll need a variety of sizes and formats of your book cover for retailers and advertisers. The actual sizes may vary by a few pixels depending on the trim size of your book.

  • Full size with front, spine and back in press quality PDF for the paperback as well as the dust jacket (if you have a hard cover version of your book)
  • Front only, full size at 300 dpi
  • Back only, full size at 300 dpi
  • Front only, 600 x 900 dpi
  • Front only, 480 x 600 dpi
  • Front only, 250 x 400 dpi
  • Front only, 200 x 300 dpi
  • Front only, 120 x 180 dpi

Retailer Folders

No matter how you create and distribute the e-book versions of your book, you’ll want to keep the latest version of whatever is published. Since the backmatter should be unique to each retailer, you’ll have different ePubs for Kobo, iBooks and Nook, for example. Use your retailer folders to keep that final file as well as any support files.

Media Kit

When you arrange for promotion of your book, you’ll soon discover you’re having to put together a bunch of files to send to bloggers and other media outlets. Here’s what you want to include in this ‘one-stop media shop’ folder.

  • Author photo
  • Author bio
  • Author links (a document that includes the URLs for your website, blog, Twitter, Facebook author page, Amazon author page, Goodreads author page, Google + page, LinkedIn page, and any other online site featuring you)
  • Book’s buy links for each retailer
  • Blurb from the back cover of the book
  • Cover image
  • Excerpts (include excerpts in a variety of lengths, including 150, 300 and 500 words)
  • ISBNs for print and e-book formats

When you need to send the media kit to a blogger or media company, simply zip the folder, give it a logical name, and email it as an attachment.

Promotion

In the course of promoting your book, you’ll create a variety of files including advertisements. Keep book-specific promotional files here.

Research

Even if your book is contemporary, chances are you had to do some research while writing it. In the process, you end up with images and articles to support what you’ve written. Store them here.

Reviews

Editorial reviews carry more weight on retail sites than do customer reviews. When your book is reviewed by a respected source, copy the entire review and keep it here. Excerpts from the review can then be posted on those sites as well as on your book’s website page.

Synopsis

Your book can be summed up in a variety of ways. Do it! You’ll need various word-count descriptions depending on where you promote your book. Here are some of the versions you may need:

  • Nine-to-fifteen-word description (hook)
  • Twenty-five word description (sometimes referred to as the elevator pitch)
  • 400-word description (e-mail promoters like The Fussy Librarian require this length)
  • 900-word description
  • Back cover blurb
  • Synopsis

That’s it for Part 2. Stay tuned for Part 3, where we’ll discuss some tactics to gain reviews as well as cover branding and marketing.

 

 

Authorpreneurship, Part 1

Now that we’ve managed to write and publish fourteen books, it’s time to pass along some of what we’ve learned in the process. The topic of “authorpreneurship”, which covers the business side of being an author, proved popular at the book conventions where we taught classes this year.

Definition

Authorpreneur is a derivation of “entrepreneur”, a term used to describe a businessperson who is usually the founder of a start-up company. Tech-savvy, agile and resilient, authorpreneurs share the traits of an entrepreneur. They grasp the nuances of social media and use it to help with brand-building and cross promotion. Those who love dealing in data (number-crunching) also employ analytics to help them them determine just how they’re doing with their online presence. They understand that these days, being an author requires one to also be a businessperson.

Perhaps the most important aspect of authorpreneurship is that it exposes the fallacy of the ultra-passive, “If you write it, they will read it” approach to reader acquisition. Most authors are well aware that besides writing the very best book they can, they need to work harder on making that book discoverable. How do they do it? Let’s start at the beginning.

Setting Up the Business

There are a number of steps anyone needs to perform when starting their own business, and those steps vary by state. Speak with a professional, preferably an accountant who is also a lawyer specializing in businesses. They will help determine if the business should be classified as a sole proprietorship (applicable to most, especially those just getting started), a limited-liability corporation (LLC), or S-Corp. Then apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. It’s free and acts as a sort of substitute for your social security number.

Next, set up an imprint or legal entity to provide a more professional presentation. Create a publisher name and register it as a “DBA” (doing business as) with the secretary of state. NOTE: This will vary by state and should be covered when meeting with the accountant/lawyer.

Be sure to apply for any business licenses if they’re necessary for where you live, and if you plan to sell books at local events, be sure to collect sales tax (if applicable) and file as per your state’s requirements.

Reserve the domain name (URL) associated with the imprint name, or your author name if it’s available.

Set up a dedicated business checking account using your DBA or LLC or business entity name. This is the account you’ll provide to book retailers so they have a place to deposit your royalties. And that EIN you got from the IRS? That’s the number you’ll provide the book retailers instead of your social security number when setting up those accounts.

Setting Up the Accounting

Like any business, an author’s business means there are numbers to track. Numbers for expenses. Numbers for royalties. Numbers for book sales. If you set up the means to record and track the numbers at the start, you’ll find tax season much easier to weather. Even if you’ve been at this awhile and don’t have the mechanisms in the place, you can start now.

Set up a spreadsheet for expenses. Start by downloading a Schedule C from the IRS. That’s the form you’ll use to report all your business income and expenses. See those line items in Part II that start with Advertising? Those are the categories you’ll be tracking. Your spreadsheet workbook should include a page for each item that’s applicable to your author expenses. At the very least, you’ll need pages for Cost of Goods (where you’ll record what you pay for print books for signings, editors, proofreaders, etc.), Advertising, Car (track your mileage for attending book signings and driving to and from the airport to attend book conventions), Office Expenses (postage, printer ink, paper, writing utensils, folders, etc.), Travel, Meals & Entertainment (for the expenses you incur while attending book conventions and signings or meeting with your agent or publisher), Legal & Accounting, and Capital Expenditures (computers and other equipment that can be amortized and depreciated over time).

Next, record and keep all your receipts. Doing this means you won’t have to pay your accountant to do it, saving you money at tax time.

Set up a spreadsheet for royalties. You’ll want to include a page for each book with columns for each retailer showing your total book sales and total pages read (for subscription services such as Scribd and Kindle Unlimited)  as well as a page where each retailer’s numbers are totaled. The running total at the bottom of each column will make it easy to answer when your mom asks you how many books you sold.

International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN)

As an authorpreneur, you are publishing books. That means you need ISBNs. Don’t let anyone tell you they’re not required—most retailers require them, in fact. They are the mechanism by which book sales are tracked, so if you ever hope to see your book on a bestseller list, buy and use them. This also ensures that you (or your company) will be listed as the publisher and not some book retailer. Oh, and they’re deductible.

Each book format requires a number (ePub, paperback, hard cover edition, and audiobook). The only exception? Mobi files for Amazon. They are assigned an ASIN by the retailer, so there’s no need to “spend” an ISBN on that format.

To purchase ISBNs, set up an account at Bowker and register your imprint name at http://myidentifiers.com. Bowker frequently offers discounts, so wait for a sale and buy ten or 100 ISBNs at a time.

Once you have your ISBNs, go to http://myidentifiers.com. Sign in and choose My Account > Manage ISBNS to assign each number to a specific book and its format (once you finish writing them but before you publish).

For each number, there are four “pages” of online information to provide. You need only fill in the fields marked with a red *, including the book’s title and book description (this can be the book blurb). Upload a cover file as well as a PDF of your manuscript. Other information you need to provide includes the contributor information (author), format and size, genre, sales and pricing. Your user interface on myIdentifiers will show a green icon next to an ISBN listing if your book’s information is complete. If you see red, it means a required field needs to be completed.

This brings us to the end of Part 1. Be sure to leave a comment if you have questions or need clarification! In Part 2, we’ll cover the organizational aspects of your author business.