Yes! You do need a business license to self publish your book. But it’s easy!
Because you become a publisher in order to self publish. And to become a publisher, you choose a business name and then register it by getting a business license through your state or county.
In Oregon, the process can be done online and costs @ $50 for a simple business (more for a Corporation or Limited Liability Company). To find out how to do it, I googled “How do I start a business in Oregon” and then followed the links, which rapidly led me to the website for the Oregon Secretary of State.
- You will need to have some business name ideas on hand, because in most states, you can’t have an identical business name to someone else. I suggest you don’t name your publishing business after yourself or based on your writing genre, because then you will have more flexibility to write in different genres and under pen names if you choose.
- You need an address for your business, so if you aren’t going to list your home address (and I strongly recommend that you do not use your home address because it will therefore become public record and searchable all over the internet forever)… then you should get a mailbox set up before registering.
- You will need a way to pay for the license online. Since you can’t set up a bank account for your publishing business until you have a business license to show the bank, you’ll have to use your personal debit or credit card or checking account… but as soon as you have a business license, you should set up a bank account for the business. Your business start up funds still come from yourself, but the separation is important.
- You generally give your own social security number as your business tax ID number if you are going to be a sole proprietor.
In some states, you will also have to set up a sales tax account. You can find out more by calling the information number listed on the website where you filed for your business license.
Once you have your business license, you can get started buying your ISBN numbers and getting your book ready to publish.
And yes, once you have your business license and your pack of 10 ISBN numbers, you can choose to be a publisher for someone else’s book… but then you are no longer just a self publisher. You are an independent publisher, or small press.
Getting a business license is not difficult and worth doing. It sets you up to do business properly, publish completely, and do your taxes correctly.
The hardest part is figuring out the name!