3 Ways to Publish Your Book

Written by Christine Bové on Jul 14, 2020 in Outreach

Have you ever had a dream of publishing a book?

Many pastors and ministry leaders dream of publishing their work. The sky's the limit for what content you can produce to help advance the Kingdom!

A book can consist of a collection of sermons, a bible study topic, leadership lessons, a biography, or a topic you are passionate about sharing. The goal is to make your book a reality so it can transform countless lives for the better.

If you've ever dreamed of writing a book, this blog is for you.

While we won't go into the structure of how to write the book, here are the guidelines on three different ways you can have your work published.

Here are the 3 ways to get your book published:

    1. A for-profit venture
    2. A personal ministry
    3. A creative license agreement

Before we break down these three ways, there is an aspect first to consider that will significantly influence the publishing path you will choose to take.

Who Owns It?

The biggest question you will want to ask is, "Who will own the intellectual property rights of this work?"

One could assume the author automatically has the ownership, but that is not always the case.

Section 201(b) of the Copyright Act of 1976 states, "In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author for purposes of this title, and, unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed by them, owns all of the rights comprised in the copyright."

This statement means you will want to ask yourself these four questions to determine if the work is under the IRS classification "work for hire."

    1. Was the work created or written during office hours?
    2. Was the work created on the church or ministry's property?
    3. Was the work created using church or ministry equipment?
    4. Was the work created using church or ministry employees or personnel?

If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, the work then belongs to the organization, not the author.

If this is the case, you and your organization can work out an agreement—but we'll talk more about that momentarily.

3 Ways to Get Your Book Published

1. A For-Profit Venture

Books are one of the highest income generators on the market today. Not only are they lucrative in the secular world, but they are also popular in the Christian market.

Because of how well books do and how accessible they are, many pastors want to write to profit from their works and ideas.

If the primary goal of writing is to profit from the sales, then using a separate corporation or LLC is an excellent strategic move. 

This separate corporation or LLC will allow you to publish and sell what you write. If this is the case, write the book on your own time using your personal equipment and resources. 

The book is then completely yours and can be published and sold at your discretion. In this scenario, all intellectual property rights are owned by you, as the author. It is important to note that this also means any income generated through this book's sales would be taxable to you. 

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Some of the most common ways to sell your book(s) are through your website, church events, and conferences. Nonprofit organizations can sell books as long as the items' sales are furthering the organization's tax-exempt purpose.

Now, what if the author is a board member? The board of directors could establish an at-arms-length agreement and then buy the materials from the author. 

All income from the books sold by the nonprofit would remain with the organization. Other than the initial sale, the author would receive no extra financial benefit, like royalties. 

An additional note: the author's intellectual property cannot be sold to the organization for more than the created work's fair market value. In this type of agreement, the author would have to be excluded from the vote of the board of directors. 

2. A Personal Ministry

Another way to publish your book is by setting up a personal ministry. Through this ministry, you can write, publish, and promote books at public speaking engagements. 

Many leaders start their ministries and nonprofits for this exact purpose. A personal ministry gives a platform to engage in public speaking events and promote the content the Lord called you to write. 

Creating a personal ministry is ideal for ministers who do not seek personal gain from writing and publishing their work. The reason being is that books written and published through your ministry are considered works made for hire. 

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Additionally, this means that even if you leave the organization, intellectual property rights remain with you. Keep in mind that the content of the book needs to be religious in nature, and the sales of the book should coincide with the primary purpose of the ministry.

The ministry can then publish the books with their money and sell them at conferences, workshops, and speaking engagements. 

Intellectual property rights belong to the ministry. This means you would not receive direct benefits, like royalties, from the sale of the books. On the other hand, you could receive reasonable compensation from the ministry as an employee for the work you created. 

3. A Creative License Agreement

The third way to publish your book is through a creative license.

A creative license agreement is made between the church and the employee (the author). You would enter into a creative license agreement if you wanted to take the intellectual property rights of the work you created when you leave.

One benefit of a creative license agreement is that it allows your church to use the material you created while still employed at the church.

In this scenario, as the author, you cannot sell or promote your book for personal profit. You can also not receive royalties on the sales of the work until after you have left the organization. When you leave your church, the intellectual property goes with you. 

Your creative license agreement must meet the following requirements of section 201(b) of the Copyright Act of 1976:

  1. Both parties have "expressly agreed" that the minister (employee), rather than the church (employer), is the author of a work made for hire and owns the copyright of the work;
  2. The agreement between both parties is documented in a "written instrument"; and
  3. The creative license agreement is "signed by them" (employee and employer).

The creative license agreement should be documented in the minister's compensation agreement. The compensation agreement should also include the approval of the creative license agreement, benefits included, and the consideration for services rendered.

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Be Careful of Private Inurement

Early on in the process, you need to determine the owner of the intellectual property rights. This is important because it also determines who can financially benefit from the work. 

The IRS is concerned that the public funds are not being used to unduly benefit a single individual. This is known as private inurement

One of the conditions for receiving and maintaining tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code is that none of the nonprofit's assets are for the personal benefit of any individual. The only exception is reasonable compensation for services rendered.

For example, Pastor Pat authors and publishes a book using the church's resources and then sells it as her own. Through the sales, she continuously receives substantial royalties from the sale of the book. The IRS could consider this as private inurement. In this situation, Pastor Pat is personally benefiting from an investment of the church's public funds.

Private inurement is considered a violation of section 501(c)(3). It's a very serious issue, and without fixing it, it might result in the loss of the tax-exempt status retroactive to the date of the act. 

Because of how serious this can be for both the organization and the individual, consider who will be the owner of the intellectual property. You'll want to do this when you begin the idea of writing a book. Also consider who will be the primary beneficiary for the sales of the books, whether it be you or the church.

Creating for the Kingdom

While publishing a book can seem intimidating, you can accomplish the task with the right process in place. It honors God, your creative gift, and your church by fulfilling the dream God has given you.

So why wait? Publish your book today, and share your message with the world, positively impacting countless lives for the Kingdom of Heaven.

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