Today Has Been…Interesting

Silly me for thinking obtaining a business license in the state of West Virginia would be easy. I should’ve known better…

Yesterday, I asked one of the clerks at the courthouse if I could buy a business license there. She told me that I’d have to apply online through the Secretary of State website. When I looked, I was discouraged because there wasn’t an option for sole proprietorship.

Today, I called Jefferson’s county Chamber of Commerce. My exact question: “Do I need a business license if I want to become a self-published author? I wouldn’t buy any books to sell. People would have to go online on Amazon to purchase my books.” She told me that she had no idea and that I’d have to ask someone higher up.

Which led to…

The Small Development Business Center in Berkeley county. She was very helpful. She told me that it isn’t necessary to obtain a business license to sell books; however, if you don’t then you can’t deduct expenses from your earnings. Yikes! She told me that it’ll only be $30 and is worth the fee. I think she said it was a one-lifetime payment, but I could be wrong. More likely, it will be once a year payment.

Which led to…

The WV State Tax Office (a 1-800 toll free number). She’s mailing me the business registration form tomorrow morning. I had the option of going to the tax office in Berkeley County but I can’t afford to take off work. Hopefully, once I fill it out, it’ll be smooth sailing. I hope it’s not a long waiting period to hear if you’re approved or rejected.

Anyway, I’m scolding myself for not doing this earlier. Hopefully, everything will work out, so I can still have my book release date set this month. It’s the only thing I’m waiting on. The formatting wasn’t difficult at all–may change my tune once I attempt to download onto PubIt, Amazon, Createspace, and Smashwords. Actually let me take this paragraph back; I don’t want to jinx myself LOL.


For fellow writers in West Virginia interested in self-publishing, here’s useful contact numbers:

  • Jeff. Co. Chamber of Commerce 304-725-2055
  • Small Dev. Bus. Center 304-596-6642
  • WV State Tax Dept. 1-800-422-2075 and/or

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

10 thoughts on “Today Has Been…Interesting

    • Hey Carrie,
      Yeah, I bet a lot of writers don’t think about behind-the-scenes involved. Everything I’ve read has said that self-publishing is easy. That all you have to do is hit the publish button on various sites. No one’s ever mentioned–hey you better have all your paperwork so you don’t get in trouble with the IRS.

      Keep smiling,

  1. You do not have to have a business license in any state unless you are conducting an actual business. Selling your books online isn’t a business in any normal sense of the word. As for tax deductions, unless you’re talking about a state tax, it’s not true that you have to have a business license in order to take deductions. Not unless U.S. tax law has changed considerably. People have been working at home for a very long time and all that’s necessary is to keep receipts for your expenditures.

    • Hey Catana,
      Thanks for the feedback. I know in WV there’s a sale tax of 6% with any purchase. I shouldn’t have to worry about that though since everything’s done online. The lady had said technically I didn’t need to purchase a license but I should to have my bases covered.

      Keep smiling,

  2. Simply earning an income from business qualifies you as a sole proprietor who can write off business expenses. Not the license (a local license has absolutely no effect on your relationship with the federal government). Technically, writing and selling your books (or freelancing in general) is a home business (at least in most jurisdictions I’ve lived) so you should get a license if you want to be above-board.

    • Hey FraserSherman,
      Thanks for the feedback. She said I should get a license to cover all my bases. I definitely don’t want to get fined or anything crazy like that. I was researching and it said if I sold any books in WV, then I better purchase a resale tax permit too. I’d have to charge 6% sales tax on every book. No one mentioned it over the phone though–maybe because I already made it clear I wouldn’t physically be selling anything myself.

      Keep smiling,

    • I did some research and it said anyone selling goods in WV has to purchase a resale tax permit. You’d definitely have to charge 6% sales tax. None of those women brought it up though. I was hoping I could sidestep that issue since I won’t be physically selling my books by hand to customers living in my area.

      Thanks for the link. I’ll definitely check it out 🙂

      That would suck to get a 1099 form with my earnings then they’d make me include sales tax on that high figure. I guess this would be the last year I ever receive a tax refund LOL. When I teach, they don’t take out any taxes, so that hurt at the end of the year. Normally, I don’t get much back, but this time it wasn’t hardly anything.

      Keep smiling,

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