You may have daydreamed about starting your own business while watching the reality show Shark Tank. You might be wondering if you should launch your own publishing business instead of doing everything under your name.
Let's first answer that question: should you start a publishing company? Your answer might be yes if you find yourself in one of these scenarios :
- You want to publish multiple books. If you're only interested in a single book, starting a company might not be worth the hassle.
- You’re working in an area where liability is higher (e.g. health-related books) or do you simply need to protect your personal assets?
- You would like to become a professional author
- Your dream is to extend to include similar books by other authors?
You may be better off publishing under your name if these criteria do not apply to you. If it does, however, this guide will show you exactly what it takes and how to start a book publishing company.
How to Start a Book Publishing Company
You can start a book publishing by following these simple steps:
- Analyze your business objectives
- Establish a business structure
- Give your business a name
- Decide on a location
- Make it Official
Now that you know what to expect, let's get into the details. Here are those six steps in detail.
Step 1: Analyze Your Business Objectives
Identifying your business goals is the first step to starting a publishing company. So, outline your business's purpose and create a business plan, of sorts.
Several of you reading this want to start your own publishing company to publish your books. That's awesome. That can be your main goal. But don't stop there. Make a list of all the details you will need to know to get there. What’s the timeframe you are looking at? How much money do you already have? How much money will you need to raise? Convert the answers to all the questions you ask into mini-goals or targets you need to achieve.
Many of us seek tax breaks and extra-legal protection. You should estimate how much income you plan to bring in. The end-of-year income can be compared with the expected income, which helps you plan ahead.
Imagine the next 5-10 years, where do you see your publishing company? All these answers should be included in your plan. Establishing business goals allows you to set specific targets.
Step 2: Establish A Business Structure
You’ll need to choose your business structure before you start creating your own book publishing company. Businesses come in many forms. Each of which carries its own advantages and disadvantages.
- Limited Liability Company OR Limited Company: Based on the country you live in you may be able to register an Ltd. (Limited) or LLC (Limited Liability Company). Both structures are synonymous in benefits, with the only differences being the LLC is predominantly in US territories while LTDs are predominantly in countries associated with the EU.
LLCs also protect assets like corporations but have the tax advantages of a sole proprietorship or partnership.
- Partnership: Managing/operating a business by multiple people or entities (generally two).
- Sole proprietorship: This is a business owned and operated by one person using their personal Social Security/Tax number (depending on your country). There is no need to register for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) under this structure.
Though not the most secure form, it is the simplest. There is, however, no liability protection in this form of business. If sued, the individual is personally responsible.
- Corporation: A corporation is a group of people with the authority to manage a company as a whole. This includes the bylaws, the officers, the board of directors, the stockholders, etc. In contrast to the other items on this list, establishing a corporation (S-Corp or C-Corp) requires a lot more formalities and paperwork.
Which Business Structure Do Most Independent Publishing Companies Use?
In most cases, self-publishers create an LLC or a sole proprietorship. For most publishers, the Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the best choice as the profit distribution and ownership of an LLC are more flexible. An LLC basically combines the benefits of a corporation and a sole proprietorship without the rigidity of a corporation.
In an LLC, the controlling document is known as the "operating agreement". This agreement can be drafted in a variety of ways to meet your needs. You may create rules in your operating agreement, for example, about how money is brought in and spent or about who will succeed you.
LLCs also have another benefit: They may be taxed as Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships, or S Corporations. An LLC is essentially the best of all worlds and a great business structure for self-publishers. Authors and bloggers often form LLCs to protect their brands and businesses.
It is advisable to do some additional research on each business structure before deciding which will work best for you.
Step 3: Give your Business a Name.
When choosing a name for your company, make sure it describes what you do, doesn't cause confusion, and isn't already trademarked. Consider using your author name or your genre, such as "Brown Publications" or "Action Packed Press". It is a good idea to have a backup name ready in case your first choice isn’t available.
Top Tip: Before choosing a business name always:
- Make sure the name you select hasn't already been trademarked.
- If you are in the U.S., make sure it hasn't already been used by someone in your state.
- Never use the terms "corporation" or "inc." unless your business is actually a corporation.
Key Things To Remember When Thinking Of Business Names
- Setting up a Sole Proprietorship will likely require you to file a DBA (doing business as), also known as a "fictitious name" or "trade name registration" especially if using a pen name.
- In the United States, the availability of names varies by state. As a result, even if a company named "Intergalactic Press" is registered in New York, it may still be used as long as it hasn't been registered in the state where you file.
Top Tip: What is the best way to check if your company name is already taken? By typing in “Secretary of State business name search (Name of the selected state)” into Google, you can check if your company name is already taken by your state. Usually, the first result is the desired website. Check if your desired business name is available.
Step 4: Decide On A Location
As part of setting up your book publishing company, you will need to select the state in which it will operate as well as the physical location of the company.
A State of the Business
The first step in selecting the location of your business is deciding on your registration state. Different states carry different requirements and registration fees. You may have stumbled across forums that have spoken in detail about the benefits of incorporating in states like Wyoming and Nevada if you are looking for tax breaks or lower registration fees.
While this is true to an extent, it is still recommended that you register your LLC in the state in which you reside, if you live in the US. This is because you are expected to pay income tax to the state where you live or where you do most of your work. So, if you live in California, setting up an LLC in Nevada will not exempt you from remitting California's income tax.
The reality is it may actually end up being more expensive to register an out-of-state charter since most states require you to register "foreign entities" to legally conduct business there. Different states have different requirements. So, you will need to conduct thorough research before beginning the process.
Establishing an LLC is primarily to create legal separation and the associated protections. Don't squander that opportunity by not having the proper registrations for the state where you actually live or work.
Determining The Physical Location/Address of Your Business
Once you know your business state, you need to have a physical location in that state where you can do business. You must have a physical business address where legal documents can be served. Using your home address may not be the best option for this as your private information will be made public if you list it as your place of business.
One quick alternative for this is to find a registered agent in your state of choice who will go on your public record, while keeping the owner's name confidential. They act as a company official on your behalf. The service may incur a fee, but usually, it includes creating your LLC. If you are the registered agent, your name won't appear in public records.In most states, you can be your own registered agent, just bear in mind your address and name will also appear on public records.
If assigning another registered agent doesn’t work for you, you can also consider:
- Setting up a Virtual Office:
My favorite option is to use virtual offices. Professional offices can give you a specific mailing address, collect your mail, forward it to you, and act as your Registered Agent (an extra layer of protection). In addition, most virtual offices provide you with a 1-800 number and send you your voicemails electronically. It's a great option for those who travel or live in a state with extraordinarily high business taxes. It is also possible to set it up in a foreign country.
- Obtaining a UPS Mailbox:
You cannot put a PO Box number on an application in most states. However, UPS mailbox addresses appear just like regular addresses. So, they act as a nice loophole. You will need to visit a UPS store in person to set up one of these mailboxes. But, once it’s set up, you can have your mail forwarded to your real address without hassle.
- Renting a Physical Location:
It may make sense to rent a physical location if you need to go somewhere other than your home to write. This is a costly option, however, if you opt to use this option you will have a built-in second address.
Step 5: Let’s Make It Official!
It's time to make this official now that you know your business goals, business structure, business name, and business location.
You can make your new business official in 7 simple steps. These are:
- Become a registered business.
- Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN), if needed.
- Establish a bank account for your business.
- Establish a system for accounting.
- Register your domain name.
- Create an Amazon KDP account for your publisher.
- Create and publish your book.
Let’s take a closer look at these 7 steps.
- Become a Registered Business.
There are two main ways to register your business:
- Register and fill out all the paperwork yourself. There are different requirements for each state, so you will have to do more research on that.
- For a fast start and to make sure everything is done right, use software like My Company Works or GovDocFiling.
You could very well become the Founder /Owner/President of your own small business in no time!
- Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN), if needed.
Business entities, outside of Sole Proprietors, are usually identified by its Employee Identification Number (EIN) for tax purposes. An EIN, also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a 9-digit number used by the IRS during tax season.
Your EIN is like a Social Security number for businesses. So, ensure any business accounts you have set up are associated with your EIN.
- Establish a Bank Account for your Business
Business bank accounts allow you to separate your personal income from the business's finances. Separating personal and business funds is essential.
An alternative online banking service such as PayPal or a traditional brick-and-mortar bank are both possible options.
- Establish a System for Accounting
From the very beginning, you have to keep track of your finances, whether you hire a professional accountant or use Google Sheets. You need to get it right the first time. Don't make any mistakes or overlook anything.
If you have a background in bookkeeping, you may opt to manage your books on your own. Quickbooks and Wave Financial are two popular accounting software options to look into if you choose this to go this route.
- Register Your Domain Name
Ensure that your business is ‘Googleable’. Not having an online presence will result in you losing out on potential readers and possible business opportunities. Registering a domain name associated with your business name is the best way to inform people about your business and your books.
This will allow you the opportunity to set up a professional author website. As well as create a link tree to utilize on social media accounts like TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
- Create an Amazon KDP Account for Your Publisher
A business Amazon KDP account is a vital asset to have in your publishing arsenal when you register a business. The best part is you can take advantage of this whether you already have an KDP account or are brand new to the platform. If you have already created a personal KDP account, don’t sweat it; simply create a new account for your business.
It is vital to note that this only complies with Amazon TOS if you have registered a business that has its own EIN. An individual or sole proprietorship (without an EIN) cannot have more than one Amazon KDP account, per Amazon's terms of service. However, if your business has its own EIN your business is allowed to have its own KDP account.
- Create & Publish Your Book
Now that you have your book publishing company registered, it's time to create and publish your book.
Top Tip: Selling books requires the purchase of ISBNs (International Standard Book Number). An ISBN is a 13-digit number, which facilitates sales and distribution around the world. In the US and Australia, Bowker serves as the official ISBN agency. While in countries like Canada, you can register to get them for free. So, be sure to check what's the norm for your publishing country as this could save you a pretty penny.
How To Promote A New Book Publishing Company
Promotion and marketing are the bread and butter of any publishing company. They are ongoing tasks that need to be given constant attention in order to achieve success. This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as through traditional advertising methods, or by using more modern techniques such as social media marketing.
Whichever approach you decide to take, it is important to remember that promotion and marketing are ongoing processes that require constant effort. By staying dedicated to these tasks, you will be able to ensure the long-term success of your publishing company.
Some methods of promotion you can look into to grow your book publishing business are:
- Develop a website and blog: This is a great way to connect with potential readers and customers, and it gives you a platform to market your books.
- Utilize social media: Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are powerful tools that can help you reach new audiences.
- Participate in book fairs and conventions: These events can be great for networking and selling books.
- Get involved in the community: There are many ways to get involved in your local community, and doing so can help you connect with potential readers.
- Develop an e-newsletter: This is a great way to keep readers updated on new releases, events, and more.
- Collaborate with other authors or influencers: This can help you reach new audiences and promote your books to a wider audience.
- Run ads in bookstores or online: Ads can be a great way to reach new readers and boost sales.
There are many different promotion strategies you can use to grow your
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Publishing Company?
It varies from state to state how much it costs to start a publishing company. There is a general range of $50 to $800 for the lowest and highest fees.
An annual fee is typically due each year. Expect to pay additional fees for registered agent services if you plan to use one. Fees typically range from $200 to $500 per year.
Depending on the genre they write in or their personal preference, some writers need to maintain extra levels of confidentiality.
Wyoming, for example, keeps member information confidential. Registered agents are the only ones who can be viewed publicly, so you could set up a company there and hire a registered agent.
How Much Does a Publisher Make?
A traditional publisher will typically receive between 15% and 50% royalty from their authors, depending on the level of work they are doing for the author. This can be achieved in the same way as a normal business contract, where the author agrees to give the publisher a certain percentage of their book sales in return for the publisher's services.
The size of the royalty depends on a number of factors, including the type of publishing company, the type of book, and the sales price. For example, a large publishing company may only offer a 20% royalty to an author, while a smaller company may offer a 50% royalty. Ultimately, it is up to the author to decide how much they are willing to give up in order to have their book published.