List of essential resources from the Government of Canada that you'll need to self-publish your novel

#1 Your business license


Self-publishing comes with a lot of perks. Some of them include:

  1. You are your own publishing house, which means that you can either use a pseudonym or your actual name as your book’s PH. This name will be your business' name, which is also why many will prefer to use a pseudonym, but that is strictly a personal choice. 

  2. From Amazon to consignments with your favorite local bookshops, you get to manage where and how you sell your work.

  3. You’ll get to create, operate, and advertise your own author’s page/online bookstore 

  4. You’ll get to generate your own, free ISBN numbers through signing up as a publisher - which you are - with Library and Archives Canada


To do all of these essential things, you’ll need that business license. 


To do so, first, type in the name you want to use in the national and provincial business registries. If your search comes out empty, then you can legally use that name as your business/publishing name. 


Next, fill out all the paperwork the government website gives you to fill out to get that business license. Usually, as an independent author, you’ll be the sole proprietor of the business, unless you plan on going into business with someone else. 


Then, wait for your application to be approved. Once it is, you’ll get your business license by email and/or by mail. The option should be yours.  


The steps to get that license will vary depending on which province or territory you live in, but the end result and costs should be just about the same. In Ontario, my Master Business License cost me 80$ and will last me 5 years before I’ll have to renew it. It’s a pretty small fee to pay for any self-publishing author considering all the opportunities, services and free products you’ll be able to get. 


Here are the various links to those business registry websites you’ll need to visit when you’re ready to make it official.On those websites, in-depth information about what it means to register yourself as a publisher (if you’re self-publishing and/or selling your own work independently) in your province and why you should - or shouldn’t - do it. Most of the time, they’ll even give you guides on how to properly start and manage your business (i.e. cost calculator, marketing planner, etc.) 












British Columbia: 




North West Territories: 




Newfoundland and Labrador:


New Brunswick: 


Nova Scotia: 


Prince Edward Island: 


# 2  register your copyrights


Whether they’re short stories, bogs, 800-page novels, or exclusive content on your personal website, you have a copyright on the material you’ve written the moment you write it. So then, why register your copyright at all?


Here’s a scenario to help explain why you should purchase the official registry of your work with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office:


You finished your manuscript. It’s the third book written under your name. Your first novels have not only taken off but have become extremely popular. You’re work is well known, but you’re not quite famous yet. Granted, that’s where it’s headed and most people know it. 


You normally hire a proofreading service to help finalize your work. You go with a new company because your old one didn’t make it through Covid. They seem legitimate eough. Months after you publish your third novel and launch it, you discover that someone from that new proofreading company has taken your manuscript, wrote in their name as the author’s, and began selling their version of your book before you started selling yours.


How do you prove that the novel is rightfully yours beyond hearsay easily? You do so with that registered copyright. 


Just, think of it as an insurance policy. It isn’t necessary, but just in case the worst does happen, it’s a very good thing to have. It’ll allow you to prove your ownership of the work to any legal office as easily as emailing a document to a lawyer. This is also why it’s important to register your copyright before you begin selling it. The moment that manuscript is done, even before the editions are made, register it. 


Be safe, not sorry, because it’s your livelihood and your reputation on the line. 


To get that copyright registry as well as all other information relevant to copyrights in Canada - including the copyright registry database search which you’ll need to check out to make sure no works were made with the title of your novel in the country already - you’ll need to visit this website: 


#3 an account as a publisher with Library and Archives Canada


Opening your account with Library and Archives Canada will permit you as a self-publishing author to generate your own ISBN numbers for free and keep a log of them. 


You’ll have the authority to modify information such as your books’ titles, their status (published, no longer in print, etc.), the day they were launched and more. 


ISBN  means International Standard Book Number. This is the number you’re going to need to attribute to your book if you want to put it on the market. Even if you don’t want to sell it through Amazon or any of your local bookstores, to make any proper prints of it whatsoever, it needs to have an ISBN. 


For more information on this subject or to create an account, please visit the website 


#4 an account with the CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency)


As the sole proprietor of your independent business, you’re selling your product and making money. You own your own online bookstore/author’s webpage to boot which helps you get the most royalties (profits) from your book sales, seeing as no % of your net or gross sales go to an outsider merchant. 


Seeing as you run your own little bookshop of sorts - even if you’re only selling your own book - you’ll have to figure out:

  1. the price of your books - which should be the same no matter where you sell it, but that’s a bit of a personal preference, I suppose

  2. what taxes you need to apply 


Taxes give me a headache, and I’m pretty sure it gives many other non-accountant Canadians headaches too. I called CRA to inform myself because I was reading too much information on sales taxes that didn’t apply to my type of business. In the end, so long as you don’t make more that 30 000$ on your products per year, you don’t have to add any taxes to any of your products - or pay them back at the end of each year to the CRA - which also means that you don’t technically have to register your business with the CRA just yet. Only when you reach that 30 000$ a year threshold will you have to register your business with the CRA and start collecting taxes on items for them. 


This is great for authors that are just starting out. When you’ll become more well-known and your sales start to take flight, the day will come when you’ll have to pay taxes, but that’s not a big deal at all. You’ll simply have to add the taxes to your item, the customer will pay them at the checkout, and put that money aside. Meanwhile, you make the same amount selling your products as you were before. Then, at the end of the year, you collect that tax money and give it to the CRA. 


End of story. 



Of all the many Government of Canada (GOC) documents you might need or websites you’ll need to consult, in my opinion, these are the 4 most essential ones there are for an author independently selling their works as well as for any self-publishing author. 


Depending on how you’ll evolve your online book-selling business or your work as a self-published author, more GOC sites will need to be consulted and business affairs, researched. Daunting as it may seem when you first start a new chapter of this journey of yours, remember that the answers, as well as the guidance you might need, are only a click away. 


Never hesitate to look matters up on Google, search key topics on Youtube, or ask other authors and publishers how they’ve managed to do what you’re striving to accomplish. 


Enjoy the journey!