Co-authors can form ‘general partnership’

If you’re among those who’ve just co-authored a self-published book, you’re probably wondering exactly how to handle this as a business. The good news is that you can treat your joint venture with much the same ease as you could if an author who’s a self-proprietor.

Anytime you write a book with one or more people – other than a spouse – you can create what is known as a general partnership (In fact, you do so as soon as you publish a book with both of your names on it.). As with a self-proprietorship, no governmental filing is required.

There’s no need for incorporation (such as becoming a “limited liability corporation” or LLC) simply because you collaborated on a book. Incorporation provides little benefit to most self-publishing authors. The main reason that a business incorporates is to protect the owner’s personal assets (such as his home, car, investments) in case the company should be sued. When authors land in court for their work, it typically is for defamation, infringement or invasion of privacy – claims that are based on your individual conduct. Hence, being a corporation provides no shield for you.

In addition, many authors find the cost of incorporation generally is far greater than revenues from a self-published book’s sales. You will need to earn several hundred dollars annually from sales or you’ll actually be spending more money on government licenses and fees than you earn from the business. There’s little economic sense in incorporating when you can run a business without doing so.

One thing you will want to do when forming a general partnership is to have your agreement in writing. Legally, it need not be in writing, but a signed document on paper can help everyone avoid problems later.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.