Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Business Side of Publishing

Setting up a publishing company entails quite a few steps. First you must determine the structure of the business. Sole proprietor? Corporation? LLC? When I turned to my accountant for advice, he quickly asked, "Is there any chance you can be sued?" Well, we all know that anyone can sue at any time for any thing. I suppose a person could go to a library where I suggested there was a certain microfilm available, and if the film isn't there they could sue for misinformation. That being said, the accountant suggested I form an LLC, which gives me the personal protection of a corporation without all paperwork and added accounting issues.

The second step is to come up with a name for your company. I spent a lot of time on this as I wanted to make sure it was something I could live with for a long time. Researching name selections on the Internet yielded some interesting suggestions: first and foremost, the name should be memorable and relate to what you are doing or selling; choose names with the same number of syllables, i.e. if publishing was going to be in the company name, then the other word with it should also consist of three syllables; and a suggestion that the name consist of an alliteration. For me, then, I was looking for a three syllable word beginning with the letter "p" to go with publishing. I settled on the word "provenance". By definition, provenance is a place of origin or birthplace. It seemed perfect for a company that would give birth to new books.

Next I had to go to the Missouri Secretary of State's (SOS) website and check to see if Provenance Publishing LLC was an available name. It was, and so I registered the name with this office and received my Articles of Incorporation. At this point you can decide if you want a logo designed for the company, and you can set up a bank account. Many banks require a Employee Identification Number (EIN) to open an account. You can quickly and easily obtain one online at Many people will also ascertain that their company name is available as a website, and register this domain name right away.

Once I had established the company with the SOS, I had to complete a Business Registration with the Missouri Department of Revenue. This was followed by a Missouri Tax Registration Application. Yessirree, the tax man cometh. Because I will be selling a product, I was required to fill out the Sales and Use Tax Cash Bond and mail it it with a money order to make sure I could take care of my sales tax responsibilities. Once that was received by the state, I was issued a Missouri Tax Identification number.

With my new tax id I was able to complete the Business Personal Property Registration Application for Merchant and/or Manufacturer License for St. Louis County. This will enable me to have a license to sell in St. Louis County. My last step is to stop in at my local City Hall and fill out a business application since I will be doing administrative duties out of my house. Whew! I need to publish more books to make all this worthwhile!

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