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Fantomas
05-22-2017, 02:49 AM
Hi all,

I have some basic questions regarding self-publishing I hope someone here can answer. Apologies if anything has been covered before in a previous thread.

1) I've been told that a good way to avoid legal trouble if your book becomes successful is to create an LLC and self-publish under that. It's not fool-proof, but it might shield your personal assets from any lawsuit. Has anyone here done this and had any experience with it?

2) When uploading your MS to the various platforms (KDP, PubIt, etc) is there any copyright issues with who owns your work? As far as I can tell, there is not. Is that also the case if you use Create Space to convert your MS into a ebook file?

3) I've always heard the cover is the most important part of any ebook and should be professionally designed? Does anyone have a good range of how much is acceptable to pay for a professionally designed cover? Is there anyone you can recommend?

Thanks!

rwm4768
05-22-2017, 05:11 AM
1. I'm not sure. I've never worried about lawsuits. But I also write mostly secondary world fantasy, so it would be rather difficult for someone to find something to sue me over. I know some people go the LLC route, but I'm not sure what advantages it has.

2. By writing it, you own the copyright.

3. For pre-made covers, you can get a good one for as little as $50. For custom covers, you'll probably pay anywhere from $250 to $1000. The company I've chosen, Deranged Doctor Design, is closer to the lower end of this, and they're quite good, which means you have to submit your cover art requests well ahead of publication date. They're in high demand.

RightHoJeeves
05-22-2017, 06:02 AM
Hi all,
1) I've been told that a good way to avoid legal trouble if your book becomes successful is to create an LLC and self-publish under that. It's not fool-proof, but it might shield your personal assets from any lawsuit. Has anyone here done this and had any experience with it?

If you've got concerns about legalities you should chat to a lawyer. Although I'm not really sure what your concerns about legal trouble actually are. Decisions on whether to become a company are usually around tax, which comes down to personal situations, goals, etc.


2) When uploading your MS to the various platforms (KDP, PubIt, etc) is there any copyright issues with who owns your work? As far as I can tell, there is not. Is that also the case if you use Create Space to convert your MS into a ebook file?

You wrote it, you own it.


3) I've always heard the cover is the most important part of any ebook and should be professionally designed? Does anyone have a good range of how much is acceptable to pay for a professionally designed cover? Is there anyone you can recommend?


The cover is very important, but a great cover isn't necessarily a path to success. I mean, the actually quality of the book itself is pretty important, no?

I think about the cover as the first step towards a sale.
Step 1: Potential buyer sees an appealing cover that attracts their attention
Step 2: Potential buyer then reads the blurb
Step 3: If they like the blurb, they may buy the book
Step 4: If they like the book, then they may buy other books

So the cover is important, but so is the blurb. And of course, so is the book. Everything is important.

CathleenT
05-22-2017, 08:18 AM
Question #2 has been handled, and 3 is a matter of opinion. Personally, I paint my covers and I've recently decided to pay for better font. That one really depends on how much background you have in visual arts.

But for #1, there's another alternative. You can carry a personal liability policy (ours was through Geico). We had million dollar coverage (back before we incorporated our construction company) for about half the price that maintaining an LLC costs in California. Our state hits you over $800 bucks a year for an LLC or corporation. So you might want to check out the tax laws where you live to see which option makes more sense.

You might be able to skip the whole thing for a while, though. Is there any reason someone would sue you over your book? If your writing is pretty inoffensive (I write fairy tales for example), I wouldn't worry too much about it, at least until I was making actual money. But if you're really concerned, that's how insurance companies stay in business. Peace of mind can be an important intangible. And a personal liability policy can cover lots of things that people can get sued over besides writing.

Sleeping Cat Books
05-22-2017, 09:33 AM
Others have addressed your questions, so I'll just add a side note to one point.

Is that also the case if you use Create Space to convert your MS into a ebook file?
You really should not allow CreateSpace to convert your book to Kindle, although paying them to convert from MS Word to .mobi is a better option than the free PDF conversion (which is usually a rather bad result). The best option is to create (or obtain through a contractor) a properly formatted ePub or Mobi file and upload that directly to Kindle Direct Publishing.

Fantomas
05-22-2017, 06:30 PM
Thank you all for the replies. My main concern about setting up an LLC is that I write historical fiction and am concerned with how historical persons are portrayed. Granted, these are public figures, but living relatives might object to what's written about them. That and of course, if a writer does start making a sizable income, it might entice frivolous lawsuits, etc.

Sorry if this is a very basic question, but I just want to make sure I have a grasp on this.

1) You can pay KDP and SmashWords to convert your Word Docs to epub and Mobi files, right? With the files, you can upload them to Kindle and SmashWords will upload it to the various other platforms, right?
2) CreateSpace (and others like it) is primarily used for POD books, right? So, theoretically, I can have just an ebook for a while before (or if) I decide to offer a print version, right?

Again, sorry if these are super basic, I'm just a little confused right now. Thanks!

Sleeping Cat Books
05-22-2017, 06:37 PM
1) You can pay KDP and SmashWords to convert your Word Docs to epub and Mobi files, right? With the files, you can upload them to Kindle and SmashWords will upload it to the various other platforms, right?
No, as far as I'm aware, neither KDP nor Smashwords offers paid conversion services. They both provide formatting guidelines, and they expect users to upload a compatible file. The best option is to upload a properly formatted ePub or Mobi file, but it's also possible to format an MS Word document to meet the conversion guidelines (but I've never tried that).

2) CreateSpace (and others like it) is primarily used for POD books, right? So, theoretically, I can have just an ebook for a while before (or if) I decide to offer a print version, right?
Correct. CS creates perfect-bound paperback books print-on-demand. There are others (like IngramSpark) that also produce hardcovers.

veinglory
05-22-2017, 07:15 PM
I am a middle ranker a best as a self-publisher but here is what I do

1) An LLC is only logical if you have exposure. If you book is fiction and you aren't sinking huge wads of cash in it, an LLC is not needed. If you book claims to cure cancer or reveal the reptoid nature of the owners of Pepsi, maybe think about it.

2) If you made the book you own the rights, in any format and in any place.

3) I try not to pay more than 5% of the projected 5 year earnings of the book. Which for me is under 100 dollars.

EvieDriver
05-22-2017, 09:39 PM
I'd like to add something about this whole LLC topic. I own my own publishing company. It's registered in my state as Electric Empire Press LLC. I formed this company for multiple reasons, but primarily, I do not want Amazon claiming any part of my works. This is a major personal choice, but I feel it is one many indie authors overlook due to the costs and upkeep. I love the idea of being my own brand, including my own publishing company. I also love the added peace of mind knowing I have more protections than the average writer as an LLC owner. I wanted to publish my book as "trade-ish/traditionally published" as possible. I want it to feel like any other book would feel. Having my own publishing company gives me a few more options, and I love that!

It is a cost, and you likely won't see your money back, but this is my hobby turned business. When I look at it from a business perspective, I know how to light a fire under my ass to achieve my publishing & sales goals. Hopefully this helps. If it doesn't, then it was worth mentioning for someone curious. Hope you have a wonder

cmhbob
05-22-2017, 09:53 PM
I think too that incorporating makes things a little easier for estate planning. You can pass shares of the business - the LLC - on to your heirs, and they can keep publishing things even after your death. Look at what Tom Clancy and Robert Parker have done.

Fantomas
05-22-2017, 10:18 PM
I'd like to add something about this whole LLC topic. I own my own publishing company. It's registered in my state as Electric Empire Press LLC. I formed this company for multiple reasons, but primarily, I do not want Amazon claiming any part of my works. This is a major personal choice, but I feel it is one many indie authors overlook due to the costs and upkeep. I love the idea of being my own brand, including my own publishing company. I also love the added peace of mind knowing I have more protections than the average writer as an LLC owner. I wanted to publish my book as "trade-ish/traditionally published" as possible. I want it to feel like any other book would feel. Having my own publishing company gives me a few more options, and I love that!It is a cost, and you likely won't see your money back, but this is my hobby turned business. When I look at it from a business perspective, I know how to light a fire under my ass to achieve my publishing & sales goals. Hopefully this helps. If it doesn't, then it was worth mentioning for someone curious. Hope you have a wonderThanks for your perspective. You mentioned that you wish to avoid Amazon claiming any part of your work. Assuming you use POD, do you partner with CreateSpace?Also, you mentioned costs and upkeep with an LLC. I don't wish to pry, but approximately how much?Thanks again.

EvieDriver
05-22-2017, 11:14 PM
Well ISBNs keep Amazon being listed as the book's publisher. You don't need to have an LLC to do this, but it just looks so much better in my opinion - authentic to the traditional way of publishing a book. That's my goal - to ensure the end product feels as genuine as possible with a kick-ass cover and fancy editing and great story. It's a personal thing, sure.

I will eventually get my books published through CreateSpace and Ingram Spark. Using them for various reasons not relevant to your question. I really hate generic answers. I love direct answers. For me (in Texas), it cost $300 to the state plus $75 to a third-party company to get it set-up. Yearly, you have to maintain your taxes even if you don't earn a dime and or are in the negative (which will be my case this year). You also need to set-up a website (which I include in the cost because EVERYONE needs a website for their business in my opinion). My costs have run about $120 for hosting for a year plus other various plugins and themes I've bought combined with my author website.

The generic answer is about to come. If you live in the US, then this will vary by state. I have a great stash of links on my Self-Publishing 101 page on my website. (http://eviedriver.com/authors/self-publishing/) This isn't a plug for you to visit my website. It's just I feel incredibly too lazy (and I'm at work with little time to respond) to hyperlink each link individually. It's underneath "Start your own publishing company."

If you live outside of the US, that might not be helpful. Each state has their own costs and some even have yearly upkeep fees, which I'd totally hate to pay per year, personally. So far, I've sank about $500 into my LLC. You state may be far more or far less. Do your research, and I'm sure you'll get there. PM me if you have further questions. or email me at authoreviedriver@gmail.com. I can't check this every day, so I don't know when I'll be back on.

Good luck!

veinglory
05-22-2017, 11:41 PM
I don't see any real link from LLC to rights. You can name your publisher, buy your ISBNs etc under your pen name or DBA publisher name. Being an LLC in no way changes your options on Amazon.

There is no reason not to do it, other than the work involved. But also no real reason to do it for the great majority of authors. Especially as the average indie is going to be chipping into their modest profits in the process.

And I left my heirs my books and account details to do with as they please. I don't think they would thanks me for leaving them an LLC that makes little money in a business they are not very interested in. That is more work for them. If your heirs would actually want a publishing company I suppose that would be different.

Fantomas
05-23-2017, 05:32 PM
Thank you both for your replies! @EvieDriver, your website is very helpful. Thanks so much for providing this! You mentioned you use CreateSpace and Ingram Spark for POD. Is there any conflict of interest using both?

I see there are pros and cons in creating an LLC. Most self-published authors don't reach the success to really merit one, and if you don't start to become successful, you can go back and create one, I'm assuming.

CathleenT
05-24-2017, 08:41 AM
Fantomas, you don't have to pay to convert Word files on either Amazon or Smashwords. Formatting the print book is the hard part--ebooks are much easier(no headers or page numbers, although you might need a linked table of contents). Smashwords has an excellent guide to the whole process here: file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/smashwords-style-guide.pdf. It's worth reading even if you never intend on using Smashwords. Much of it is basic formatting advice. I've loaded my book onto both platforms and never had to convert a thing. You'll have to save your file as a straight .doc file (no docx) for Smashwords, but that can be done from within Word.

EvieDriver
05-24-2017, 06:08 PM
The reason I created mine before publishing is because I want to have full ownership of my work. When you use CS's ISBN (free) service, it's listed as the publisher. Nothing wrong with this - especially if you don't care about stuff like this or are on a budget. Just take note that when you use this ISBN you'll have to create (and spend more money when you do this) a new edition to publish with your own ISBN (which looks loads more professional (in my opinion). I didn't want to deal with this later. I'm a now or never sort of person who doesn't mind investing in my writing right now. I'm lucky enough to have the resources to do so. Not everyone is. LLCs aren't the best way to self-publish for everyone. I'm just stressing my experience and choices.

I'm not a lawyer or accountant. I didn't consult those at all in my journey. I felt I didn't need to. It's recommended you do this, though. Please only listen to my advice with a grain of salt. I cannot stress this enough. For me, having an LLC is all about brand uniformity. I want all of my books under one publisher, mine! Lol. I hope this helps. IF you have further questions, please let me know! Finally, Yes. I do plan on using both POD services. One for print and one for ebook. CreateSpace will be for my ebooks, and Ingram Spark will be for printed copies. There are tons of websites (one link actually in my previous Self-Publishing 101 page linked above if you're curious) about the benefits of using both. Do a bit of soul searching and research to develop the best solution for your indie needs. :) Good luck!

cmhbob
05-24-2017, 06:50 PM
Smashwords has an excellent guide to the whole process here: file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/smashwords-style-guide.pdf.

Erm...

I don't think anyone can read a file on your hard drive. :)

WeaselFire
05-24-2017, 07:55 PM
1) I do, but I have no troubles with setting up LLC's and have been doing it for three decades.

2) Nope. Your copyright. Period.

3) $250-500 for decent professional. Or marry a graphic designer. :)

Jeff

veinglory
05-25-2017, 12:52 AM
You can have your own ISBN as an individual with no LLC.

Old Hack
05-25-2017, 12:54 AM
Hi all,

I have some basic questions regarding self-publishing I hope someone here can answer. Apologies if anything has been covered before in a previous thread.

1) I've been told that a good way to avoid legal trouble if your book becomes successful is to create an LLC and self-publish under that. It's not fool-proof, but it might shield your personal assets from any lawsuit. Has anyone here done this and had any experience with it?

We can't give you legal advice, and you really shouldn't be looking for it here. You need a lawyer for that.

I am confused, though. Why would you be more likely to attract legal trouble if your book becomes successful? And how would setting up a company protect you from that?

Thing is, people can and will sue anyone for anything. You can't protect yourself against people for whom every breath brings a new conspiracy theory. All you can do is write the best book you can, and do everything possible to ensure you've not included anything which would give anyone proper grounds for action.


2) When uploading your MS to the various platforms (KDP, PubIt, etc) is there any copyright issues with who owns your work? As far as I can tell, there is not. Is that also the case if you use Create Space to convert your MS into a ebook file?

There won't be so long as you only upload your work to legitimate, trustworthy places; and so long as you don't plagiarise anyone or anything.


3) I've always heard the cover is the most important part of any ebook and should be professionally designed? Does anyone have a good range of how much is acceptable to pay for a professionally designed cover? Is there anyone you can recommend?

Thanks!

If you go to our Art and Design room you'll find a whole section devoted to cover art.

Fantomas
05-25-2017, 03:01 AM
Thank you all for your replies. I see that I was confused regarding how to convert files to epub and mobi. I formatted my MS and tested them on my Kindle and Nook apps. Thanks again for the advice!

ASeiple
05-26-2017, 10:21 PM
Looks like most of the questions have been pretty well answered, but I'll chime in. I discussed the possibility of setting up an LLC with my CPA, and she advised me against it. Her view of it was that there's not much point unless you're already pulling in over seventy-five thousand dollars a year, and it's additional complication, paperwork, and fees annually. There's legal protection, yeah, but all it means is that they can only go after your royalties and author-related assets. So they can still sue you, they just can't try to take your house.

When I was running an airsoft LARP game, I ran it as an LLC. It wasn't much hassle, but it was a few hundred dollars over the years, and a lot more paperwork for something that never made more than a few hundred dollars of profit. (By design. Seriously, we would've been a nonprofit organization but those things are way more complicated.) But it was a good investment then because airsoft pellets can screw you up if you get stupid.

Never did get a chance to test it in court, but I'm not sorry about that. Point is, do you REALLY need to incorporate before you get big? Wait and see how it goes is my advice, and if you start getting too controversial or making tons of cash, then talk with a professional.