Legal and Management Issues for Micro-Entrepreneurial Self-Publishers

If you delve into the self-publishing world to make money or market your micro-entrepreneurial business without first handling important legal and management issues, you may face some potential problems. Brush up on following legal and management matters before you jump into self-publishing, whether you plan to publish ebooks, audio or video, or articles.

Get an ISBN for your ebook

In order for your ebook to appear on Amazon, major bookstores, or online in venues that sell similar products, you need to acquire an International Serial Book Number (ISBN). Not acquiring an ISBN won’t stop you from self-publishing, but without one, you won’t maximize sales.

Respect copyright before you self-publish

Before you produce ebooks, audio or video files, or other self-published content, you should become familiar with copyright laws. Copyright is legal protection for you — the publisher — in the event that someone takes verbatim (word-for-word from your work) what you have produced. Other people can write about the same topic, but they can’t do so in the same manner that you did.

Make sure that you protect yourself and your copyrighted material. At the same time, respect other people’s copyright.

Include a disclaimer in your self-published work

A disclaimer is a formal statement telling the reader what you can and can’t guarantee and what you can’t be held responsible for when the reader takes action with your content. The disclaimer is meant to hold you harmless and prevent any potential legal issue if the readers have a problem when they attempt to enact any strategies or actions described by your product.

The disclaimer is also intended to protect the reader as well. Whenever you write or produce a self-published product, find out (from your attorney) whether you need to include a disclaimer somewhere prominent in or on your product.

If your ebook, for example, is about how to save on taxes, then include a disclaimer in the book that states that the book is only informational or educational and not meant to be formal advice.

Make sure you put the disclaimer statement in a prominent spot within your work. The front page (or close enough) is best. Your readers or viewers should immediately see it. Placing a disclaimer statement on the sales page or other point of purchase is a good idea so readers are aware of the risks even before they buy.

If the topic is serious or sensitive, it may be a good consideration to put the disclaimer statement in several places, such as at the front of the book (or in the beginning of the audio or video program) and a reminder at the end.

Find out how other authors and established publishers handle the same situation in the same topic. Read their disclaimers, which are prominently displayed either in the front or back of their book (or both).

In addition, make sure that whatever you write or produce has integrity. Don’t, for example, give medical advice if you don’t have a medical degree and license to practice. Don’t lie about someone or say fraudulent stuff.

Set up ecommerce for your self-published content

When you finish creating your PDFs, audios, and so on, you want to make sure you’re ready to sell and market them so your customers can easily purchase and download them. To ensure that your market can buy your self-published content, follow these three steps:

  1. Get PayPal or some other payment option.

    You need a way for people to pay for your content. PayPal is one of the leading payment processors for Internet commerce.

  2. Acquire a digital delivery service.

    You still need a mechanism in place so that when your customers pay, they can download what they purchased. A digital delivery service integrates with your PayPal account to make a delivery of their purchase. Consider these places:

    Some of these sites also feature a shopping mall area, which can work much like a mini-catalog site for your digital products. If you can’t or choose not to do a website or a blog, this can serve as a site for one or more of your products.

    When you investigate these sites, find out how they charge. Some charge a monthly fee (such as E-Junkie), and others may charge a percentage of the sales (such as Payloadz). Some may have different rate structures based on your volume of sales, transactions, or activity. The pricing can impact when you start doing larger volume of sales.

    In the beginning when you don’t have a lot of sales, use a digital delivery service that charges a percentage of the sale. That way, if you only sell $100 worth of product, your cost may only be, say, $5 if the site charges 5 percent.

    If you anticipate that your sales will substantially increase, price out a digital delivery service that charges a flat monthly fee. The price is the same whether you sell 1 unit of your product or 1,000 units of it.

  3. Market your product.

    You might market your products via email, ezines, online articles, social media, or through your blog or website.

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