Q&A: What are the tax advantages and disadvantages of a textbook author setting up an incorporation rather than operating as a ‘sole proprietor’?

Q: “What are the tax advantages and disadvantages of a textbook author setting up an incorporation rather than operating as a ‘sole proprietor’?”

A: Stan Gibilisco, author of several textbooks including Geometry Demystified:

“I tried this when I lived in Hawaii and discovered, to my horror, that my royalty income was subject not only to their income tax, but to their ‘sales’ tax as well (they call it a general excise tax). I figured that if I formed a Nevada corporation and had all my income channeled into it, and then became an employee of that corporation, the royalty income would not be subject to that onerous tax. It was a beautiful theory, but, like so many theories, did not work. The legislators in Hawaii had thought of that before I did and the law was airtight. Love it or leave it. I left.

Q&A: What to do when a coauthor transitions toward retirement

Q: “My coauthor on several different titles is transitioning toward retirement. I will soon be starting a revision without his active participation. We have a succession agreement on the royalty split in future editions, so that’s (hopefully) not an issue. However two questions have risen to top of the swirl of concerns that I have as I face this transition: 1) Is this a good opportunity to renegotiate my authoring contract? I suspect that my publisher will want to simply change the authoring designations as an addendum to the current contract. Should I insist on a new contract? Should I avoid that if they insist on a new contract?; 2) Assuming that I should renegotiate, how likely is it that I’ll be able to break them out of their boilerplate?”

A: Stephen E. Gillen, Attorney, Wood Herron & Evans:

“Taking on 100 percent of the writing responsibility is essentially a new deal necessitating some change in the terms of the relationship (royalty share, to name but one important term). There is no magic to how this change in the relationship is memorialized. It can be by amendment or addendum or by substituting a new contract. What is important is that, however it is memorialized, you capture all of the relevant changes.

Q&A: What to consider when recycling content from writing project to writing project

Q: “A general question: You are writing a book — in one chapter, you wish to include information that you have used in another book with another publisher. What is the rule of thumb — if there is one — about how much information can be used and/or the level of changes necessary?”

A: Jay Devore, Professor Emeritus, Department of Statistics, Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo:

“I’ve been thinking about this issue because a colleague and I are thinking about collaborating on a business statistics book (introductory statistics for a business audience). I have written statistics books for engineers and also for a general audience — 4 in total, all published by Thomson. But Thomson (actually their subsidiary Southwestern) already has a full stable of business stat books, so may not be interested in publishing another one.

Q&A: What is the likelihood of a textbook publisher ‘cloning’ your textbook?

Q: “I am working on a different kind of developmental mathematics textbook. It is very difficult, nowadays, to distinguish between current Mathematics textbooks. Mine looks, feels, and reads in a very different unique way. I’ve presented it to one publisher and they are interested. I know that it is to my advantage to approach other publishers, however, should I be concerned that if I do, that they will ‘clone’ my text?”

A: Michael D. Spiegler, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, Providence College:

“If you have a good way of approaching the subject matter, others will imitate once your book comes out. You may have an edge as the original. And you’ve made a contribution to the students in your field beyond just your book. It may be possible to get a publisher to sign an agreement stating that they will not come out with a book that clones yours for a given time period. I’ve heard of this being done with other ideas and industry. I’d suggest you consult with a good intellectual property lawyer on this idea. And remember, imitation is the highest form of strategy (or something like that).”

Q&A: Author’s questionnaire–What it is and what you need to know

Q: “What is an “author’s questionnaire’?”

A: Mary Ellen Lepionka, author of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide:

“An Author’s Questionnaire usually comes from the marketing department to develop leads for reviewers of, contributors to, and especially adopters of your text. I suggest filling it in as completely as possible to make your contacts, colleagues, affiliations, and achievements known to the people who will attempt to market and sell your title. Also include any press–news articles about you (and keep sending them). List your upcoming opportunities to promote your book, such as guest lectures, keynote addresses, interviews in the broadcast media, academic conventions, teleseminars or webinars, etc.