How to start a publishing company, it’s way too easy. This is mainly for the indie authors out there. The ones that for whatever reason do not want to go through the conventional channels to get something published.
First off. I’m not going to touch the argument of self-pub versus traditional publishing in this post. This isn’t about that. A reader contacted me after reading my last post, and mentioned that it would be nice to talk a little bit about how to start a publishing house. I will say, there are a lot of good reasons to self publish, legitimate reasons, so let’s not clutter up the comments with that dead argument.
What’s in a Name?
There are two complicated parts about setting up a publishing company these days. One is the business shit, the other is the name. That’s right, picking a name is literally the hardest part about setting up a publishing house. Pick something that sounds professional, demonstrates your intent, and has your own personal flair.
As I’m getting the rights back to my Viral books, which I mentioned in the last post, I want to republish them under my own imprint, and I’d prefer not to have “Amazon” listed as the publisher name, so aside from picking a cool name, Gecko Print Publishing, I also purchased a block of ISBNs from Bowker. If you are in the US or Austrailia (or a bunch of other countries), Bowker is the only place you can go to get ISBNs, and they can be pricey if you buy them one at a time. I bought 100 of them for about six dollars a pop. The more start-up capital you have, the cheaper per ISBN. In my opinion, if you can’t buy at least 10, then it isn’t worth it.
Bowker will ask you for your own name, and the name you want to assign to the numbers as the “publisher.” Just insert your publisher name. And keep the receipt.
Setting up a Business
So, this is the scary part, right? Lucky for me, when I started freelancing for a living, it was something I had to do then. I set up a separate bank account, just under my name. I keep track of all my business expenses and income very carefully. And I’m filing my taxes as a sole proprietor (it doesn’t typically make sense to start a corporation for freelance writing).
I found a tax guy, told him what I was doing, and he was actually really happy about how good my bookkeeping was, even though I’m basically just tracking receipts and running all the business stuff through that side account. If I buy something for the business, I do it with the debit card on that account. It’s scary as shit, walking into a tax office and saying, “yeah, I write stuff for a living, and I have no 1099s because my customers don’t want to fill out tax papers.” But hey, find a good CPA, and they will set you at ease, and fill you in on everything that you need to do.
Probably, but I’m not raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars. I barely make enough money to eat. Add to that, losses for my first year in business, and I was able to glide into this lifestyle. But that’s the bare bones. That’s all you NEED to do in order to get a publishing house up and running. Print on demand works magical wonders.
When you set up your accounts on KDP, Smashwords, CreateSpace, or Ingram, just put in the clever publisher name you came up with.
There are a number of things, unfortunately that you will need to think about, and these apply to self-publishing in general, whether you are using your own ISBNs or some “free” ones from Amazon.
Do you like my logo? You don’t actually need one, but it’s a nice way to brand your product. A logo helps with the branding of your company so it’s pretty useful if you are planning on having things like business cards – which you should. You can visit Printivity for more information on getting some business cards printed for you and your company.
If you are going to be selling a bunch of books, especially from other authors, then you need a website, and all the craziness that goes with that. There are a number of ways to set up a storefront, and a little research will give you the tools you need. There are far too many to discuss in detail, however sites like linktree can provide a great start up, merging your professional website and social platforms together.
Editing and Formatting
You don’t want to put out junk products, and interior formatting is a thing. I use tools like Sigil, but Ingram can help you block up your paperback as an ebook, for a price. Amazon will make a Kindle book from a word file for free. But for the paperback, you want to make sure that your page numbers, headers, footers, and all of the other bullshit that goes into formatting looks legit.
Formatting is a matter of either having Adobe’s layout program, or messing with countless style sheets in Word or LibreOffice. Novel-writing software like Scrivener also typically have some cool export features to make things easier. I don’t use Scrivener, so I’m doing things the hard way.
Editing should go without saying. If you are self-pubbing, then you’ll have to front some money for professional editing costs. If you are a professional editor trying to start a publishing house for other authors, then you’ll have this part nailed.
That’s Pretty Much It
As you can see, it’s not like the old days where you had to buy your own press, or hire printers and binders to put books together for you. Print on Demand has taken most of the mess out of publishing, at least all the wasted paper. Stick to standard paper sizes and you should be golden.
As a side note, I’m probably going to be pushing the next iteration of Finish the Damn Book! to Kindle pretty soon here. Hopefully by the end of the month. So if you guys like this article, and want to follow me through the hoops of the publication process, let me know in a comment. If you want a pre-release PDF of Finish the Damn Book, I’m still taking on beta readers and reviewers, so shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll get you the latest iteration, and add you to the list so you can always get the latest version for free.