25 December 2023

Starting a Publishing Company: A Beginner’s Guide

By Ronald Smith

So, you’ve got a spark of creativity and a love for words? Well, my friend, starting your very own publishing company might just be the perfect adventure for you! Trust me, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Let’s dive right in and I’ll show you the ropes.

First things first, let’s talk about what a publishing company actually does. Essentially, it’s a business that brings amazing stories, articles, and books into the world. As a publisher, I get to work with talented authors, help them polish their work, and share their stories with eager readers like you.

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of starting your own publishing company. The first step? Passion. You’ve got to have a burning desire to bring incredible stories to the world. You’ve got to be in love with the world of books and have a genuine interest in connecting readers with great authors.

Next up, it’s time to think about your niche. What kind of stories do you want to share? Do you want to focus on children’s books, sci-fi adventures, or maybe powerful non-fiction? Whatever it is, find your passion and make it your specialty. Trust me, when you’re excited about what you’re publishing, it shines through in your work.

Alright, now that you’ve honed in on your niche, it’s time to build a team. You don’t have to do this alone! Surround yourself with talented folks who share your love for books. Find editors, designers, and marketing wizards who can help bring your authors’ work to life and get it in front of readers.

Speaking of authors, now comes the fun part – finding and signing them! Look for writers who fit your publishing company’s vision and genre. Reach out to them, get to know them, and see if they’d like to collaborate with you. Remember, building strong relationships with your authors is key to a successful publishing company.

Once you’ve got a solid team and stellar authors on board, it’s time to start the publishing process. From editing and proofreading to designing captivating book covers, there’s a lot that goes into making a book shine. Embrace the journey and enjoy the creative process along the way.

Finally, it’s showtime! Launch your books into the world and watch as readers fall in love with the stories you’ve helped bring to life. Get involved in marketing and promotions to make sure your books get the attention they deserve. Remember, it’s all about connecting readers with the stories that will capture their hearts.

Starting a publishing company may seem like a daunting task, but trust me, it’s a rewarding adventure filled with creativity and passion. So, my friend, if you’re ready to embark on this literary journey, I’m here cheering you on. Happy publishing!

Starting a Publishing Company: A Beginner's Guide

I’m going to tell you about publishing and printing, two related but different businesses.

When you have a publishing business, the printer is the one who completes the work. The publisher sends the product to the printer, who is responsible for making copies of it. In other words, they turn the publisher’s job into something tangible.

Now, if you have a passion for reading and writing, and maybe even some experience editing documents, that’s great! But what’s really important is having strong marketing skills. Those will help you succeed in the publishing industry.

Got all that? If so, you might just be ready to start your very own publishing company.

But what exactly is a publishing company?

Well, a printer’s job is straightforward: they print things. But a publisher’s role is much more than that. They handle all the tasks leading up to the printing process.

When you think of a publishing company, you probably think of books, both fiction and nonfiction. And you’d be right! But publishing companies also work on magazines, textbooks, manuals, and other similar projects.

I want to talk to you about starting your very own publishing company. It might sound like a big task, but it’s actually quite simple. Let me break down the process for you in 24 crucial steps.


The Basics of Starting Your Own Publishing Company

When it comes to publishing, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, the publishing company acquires the manuscript, edits it, and manages the process to get it ready to be printed. This includes taking care of the layout and cover design. Additionally, the publishing company is responsible for overseeing the distribution and marketing of the project.

Now, you might be wondering why someone would want to start their own publishing company. Well, many self-published authors have taken this route to add credibility to their work. By creating their own publishing company, they have complete control over the publishing process and can ensure their books are of high quality.

But starting a publishing company isn’t just for writers. If you’re not a writer yourself, you can still start a small publishing company and help new writers get their work published. It’s a great way to support and nurture upcoming talent.

Let’s talk about the publishing world today. It’s a fascinating mix of people and ideas. On one hand, you have authors who have taken charge of their own destiny by becoming self-published. They have become entrepreneurs, running their own publishing companies and building their own businesses.

On the other hand, there are individuals who have a special talent for finding great books, editing them to perfection, and getting them out into the world. These folks have a knack for marketing and have decided to start their own publishing ventures. They combine their skills in acquisition, editing, and marketing to bring amazing books to readers like you.

Starting a Publishing Company: A Beginner's Guide

1. Decide on a Name for Your Business and Get it Registered

When starting a business, one of the first things to do is choose a name. The process might be different depending on where you live, but typically you would begin with your Secretary of State. It’s important to make sure that the name you choose is not already being used by someone else. If you want, you can also use your own name as the business name.

Your publishing imprint can have the same name as your business, but it’s important that the name allows for a unique logo. Your imprint and logo should represent the kind of projects you work on.

3. Decide on a Publishing Niche and Target Market

Are you interested in publishing books, magazines, manuals, or newspapers? Do you want to focus on fiction or nonfiction books? Maybe you’re interested in publishing children’s books or religious materials. There’s also the option of indie publishing or self-help. Think about what niche you want to specialize in and who your target audience would be.

If you want to keep your passion for publishing alive, it’s important to choose a specific focus area. Many small publishing companies start by specializing in a niche and then expand from there. They might combine Print on Demand (ordering copies as orders come in) with digital publishing (allowing people to order copies to be read online).

4. Dive Deep into Market Research

To succeed in your chosen niche, it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of the market. Take the time to explore the current trends, popular genres, and up-and-coming authors within your niche. Additionally, research your target audience’s reading habits, preferred formats (eBooks, print, audiobooks), and buying patterns. This valuable information will shape your strategy for acquiring books and marketing them effectively.

5. Develop a Business Plan

Let me tell you something important: every business, whether it’s brand new or already running, needs a business plan. Yes, even small businesses like yours. But here’s the thing, your business plan shouldn’t be set in stone. It should be flexible and able to change.

Now, as a new publishing company, you need to come up with a Mission Statement. This statement should show why you decided to join the publishing industry.

Step 6: Get a Business Bank Account

Here’s what you gotta do: open a business account in the name of your company that’s separate from your personal account. It’s also a good idea to have a dedicated business credit card and business cards. Keep your personal finances separate from your business.

Starting a Publishing Company: A Beginner's Guide

Step 7: Pick Your Spot

When it comes to publishing in the digital world, where you’re located doesn’t matter as much as it used to. New York City may have always been the hub of publishing, but not anymore.

Nowadays, book publishers can be based anywhere in the United States. Even editors and proofreaders can work from the comfort of their own homes.

To get started, you’ll need some important tools like powerful computers, publishing software, a CD writer, a backup system, and anti-virus programs.

Step 8: Build Your Online Presence

On top of finding a physical location, it’s crucial to establish a strong online presence. This means creating social media profiles and engaging with readers and writers online. You might even want to start a blog that relates to your field.

Having an active online presence will make it much easier for people to find and connect with you in the digital age.

Step 9: Handle Licenses, Permits, and Fees

Once you’ve registered your business name, you’ll need to get an EIN (Employer Identification Number). The licenses and permits required may vary depending on the state, but to sell books, you’ll definitely need an EIN.

The EIN is important because it’s used to obtain your sales tax license. This license is necessary for accurately reporting your book sales and paying your state and federal taxes.

If you hire subcontractors, like editors, you’ll also need the EIN to file the 1099 forms you send to them.

Step 10: Choose a Business Structure

Most publishers choose the simplest form of business structure – the limited liability company or LLC. It’s a step up from the sole proprietorship, which is also a popular choice among publishers.

Forming an LLC involves some paperwork that you’ll need to file with your state, but the extra effort is definitely worth it. Here’s an example:

Welcome to the world of Newbie Book Company. We’re all about publishing awesome short stories from talented authors, like me! So, during the editing process, the cool people at the company asked me if any of my stories had been published before. And guess what? I told them, ‘Nope, they haven’t been published at all!’

But here’s the thing, my friends. One of my stories actually had been published before. It was in this small magazine, you know? And now, that magazine is causing some trouble. They’re like, ‘Hey, we own the rights to publish your story again!’ I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ Turns out, when they bought my story, they got all rights to it. Meaning, they have the exclusive right to do whatever they want with it, even republish it. They’re suing me to get damages out of my company’s assets.

Now, here’s some advice for you. If you decided to set up your own publishing company as an LLC, you have some extra protection from lawsuits. Your personal stuff will be safe from all that legal mess. See, the LLC structure gives you better protection against liabilities compared to other types of businesses. Pretty cool, huh?

If you want some tax benefits, forming a corporation might be a good idea. To decide which legal entity is right for you, it’s a good idea to talk to an accountant.

When it comes to choosing a business structure, there are a few options to consider.

The first option is a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This is a popular choice for many publishers because it offers liability protection. By setting up an LLC, you can separate your personal and business assets, which means your personal assets are protected in case of lawsuits. Keep in mind that setting up an LLC does require some paperwork to be filed with the state.

Another option is a Sole Proprietorship. This is the simplest form of business and doesn’t require formal registration. However, it’s important to note that a Sole Proprietorship does not provide liability protection. This means that your personal assets are at risk in case of lawsuits or debts.

A third option is a Corporation. Forming a corporation can have pass-through tax benefits, which means that profits and losses can pass directly to shareholders. It’s recommended to consult with an accountant to get detailed information on which legal entity would suit your business best.

11. Get some accounting software for your business

If you’re running a publishing house, it’s important to have good accounting software. There are several options available, like Zoho and Quickbooks. These tools make it easy to keep track of your business expenses and income, separate from your personal finances.

Zoho is a popular choice because it offers a comprehensive platform of services for businesses. Along with their accounting software, they also have other helpful tools like Zoho Expense, Invoice, One, Bookings, and more. These services are all integrated together, making it convenient to manage everything under the Zoho umbrella.

Step 12: Get Your Employer Identification Number and Hire Employees

When starting your publishing house, you might need to hire subcontractors like editors and proofreaders. This means you’ll need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and officially bring on staff.

Starting a Publishing Company: A Beginner's Guide

13. Time to Get ISBNs!

Did you know that ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number? It’s a special 13-digit number that acts as a barcode for a book.

ISBNs are not just fancy codes, but they play a crucial role in distributing and tracking the sales of your books. It’s important to understand how they work in different markets and platforms. If you plan on publishing more books in the future, it might be a good idea to buy ISBNs in bulk. This way, you can save money and be prepared for future publishing projects.

14. Sort Out Your Business Taxes

Hey, I recommend consulting an accountant to figure out which business structure can give you the best tax benefits or tax breaks.

Remember, you’re responsible for paying federal, state, and local taxes on your employees’ wages. You’ll also have to pay sales taxes.

15. Time to Look Professional Online

So, you’ve picked a name for your business. Now it’s time to create a website and register your domain name. Don’t forget to make an email address that includes your domain name. Having an online presence is important for your business.

16. Get Started on Amazon

Once you’ve finished a project, make sure to share all the important information about it, like sales numbers and feedback, on your Amazon publishing account. Don’t forget to include your business credentials.

If you’re lucky, Amazon might even buy the rights to your project and pay you royalties! Did you know that Amazon has 16 different imprints? When it comes to selling ebooks online, Amazon is one of the best places to be.

But here’s the catch – Amazon wants to see solid sales and great reviews for your project before they choose you. So work hard to get those sales and reviews!

17. Get Authors to Join

I need to create a contract for authors. Should I offer them advances? And how much of the royalties should I pay?

You can promote your publishing company by listing it in author publications. These publications are where authors go to find publishers. For instance, there’s a yearly publication called Writer’s Digest that lists all book and magazine publishers categorized by genre, such as outdoor and romance.

Step 18: Focus on Authors

It’s important to develop an approach that prioritizes the authors you sign. This means offering them fair contracts, supporting their creative process, and providing marketing assistance. By becoming known as a publisher who is friendly and supportive to authors, you can attract more talented writers to join your company.

Step 19: Publish Books

The next step for me is to publish my books. But I shouldn’t limit myself to just one format. I should consider publishing in print, as eBooks, and even as audiobooks. By doing this, I can reach a larger audience and appeal to different types of readers. It’s important to collaborate with professionals who can help me produce high-quality audiobooks and format my eBooks correctly.

Step 20: Get the Word Out

You don’t need a fancy degree to be a great marketer. All you need is a passion for your work. To promote my books, I should involve myself and my authors in online events like question and answer sessions. These events help me connect with readers and build excitement around my books.

A successful marketing strategy should include online marketing, working with book bloggers and influencers, and participating in book fairs and literary festivals. I should also think about using email marketing to reach potential readers and creating promotional materials like book trailers to generate interest.

Starting a Publishing Company: A Beginner's Guide

21. Start Your New Business

Let everyone know about your exciting new venture! Spread the word in local newspapers, magazines, and other publications.

22. Expand Your Business

Support writing programs and book clubs in your community. Join writers’ conferences to help promote your books.

23. Build Relationships with Bookstores and Distributors

It’s important to have good relationships with both independent bookstores and larger chains, as well as distributors. This will help make sure your books get noticed. Focus on creating a strong network to reach your target audience.

24. Become a Successful Business Owner

  • I’m always learning and adapting: The publishing industry is always changing, with new things constantly happening. I make sure to keep up with the latest updates and trends, whether it’s new ways of publishing online or changes in what readers like. I attend workshops and conferences and also take part in webinars to stay informed and keep my knowledge fresh.
  • Building strong networks is essential: Networking is really important in the publishing world. I make an effort to connect with other publishers, authors, literary agents, book distributors, and marketing professionals. These relationships can be valuable for collaboration, partnerships, and gaining insights into successful publishing strategies.
  • Focus on Quality: When you run a publishing company, it’s important to make sure the books you publish are top-notch. This means taking the time to carefully edit each book, creating professional cover designs, and meeting industry standards. Instead of rushing to publish as many books as possible, focus on delivering high-quality books. This will help build a strong reputation for your brand.
  • Effective Financial Management: It’s crucial to keep a close eye on your company’s finances. Regularly review your budget, make sure you’re managing your cash flow efficiently, and make smart decisions about how to reinvest your profits. Consider using accounting software to keep track of your finances, and if needed, seek the guidance of a financial advisor. This will help you keep your company’s financial situation in order.
  • Make Customers and Authors Happy: Put the satisfaction of your authors and customers first. When they give you feedback, listen carefully and take action to meet their needs. If your authors are happy, they’ll stick with your publishing company and recommend it to others. And if your readers are satisfied, they’re more likely to become loyal customers.
  • Promote and Market Your Books: Come up with creative and exciting marketing strategies to promote your books and build your brand. Take advantage of social media, email marketing, book tours, and author events to increase your visibility. Building a strong online presence and connecting directly with your audience can have a big impact on your overall success.
  • Diversification: Don’t be afraid to try new things and explore different genres, formats, or ways of doing business. Maybe you can even make audiobooks or eBooks, or start doing webinars or podcasts about publishing or the types of books you love.
  • Staying Flexible: Be ready to adapt and change with the market. Things are always shifting, and it’s important to be able to adjust to new trends and ideas. Whether it’s changing how you reach readers or exploring new markets, being open to change can help you find success.
  • Take Care of Your Team: If you have people working with you, make sure to invest in them. Support their growth and happiness because when your team is motivated and skilled, it can make a big difference for your business.
  • Find the Perfect Balance Between Passion and Practicality: While it’s important to be passionate about books and publishing, it’s equally important to make smart business decisions. Combining your love for publishing with practical thinking will lead to long-term success.

By focusing on these aspects, you can create a publishing company that not only thrives in a competitive market but also makes a positive impact on the world of literature.

Now You Know How to Start a Publishing Company: Time to Set Up Your New Business!

So, how do you go from starting your own publishing business to running a well-established company?

Stay informed about industry trends, see what your competitors are up to, and most importantly, learn from their mistakes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What exactly does a publishing company do?

A publishing company has an important job of finding, editing, and handling content that will be printed. This can include things like books, magazines, textbooks, and manuals. They also take care of distributing and marketing the final product.

How can I go about starting my very own publishing company?

If you want to start your own publishing company, here are some important steps to follow:

1) Give your business a name and register it officially.

2) Create a unique name and design a logo for your publishing company.

3) Decide on a specific area or audience you want to focus on.

4) Make a detailed plan for your business.

5) Open a dedicated bank account for your publishing company.

6) Choose a location where you want to operate your business.

7) Get any necessary licenses, permits, and pay the required fees.

8) Decide on the structure you want your business to have.

What advantages come with forming a limited liability company (LLC)?

When you create a Limited Liability Company (LLC), it offers you protection from legal issues by separating your personal and business assets. This means that if you face a lawsuit, your personal assets will be safe. Compared to other business structures, an LLC provides even more liability protection.

Should you consider buying accounting software?

Yes, it’s a good idea to invest in accounting software such as Zoho or Quickbooks. This software will help you keep track of your business expenses and income separately from your personal income. These platforms also offer a wide range of business services that can help you stay organized.

How can you obtain an ISBN for your books?

Did you know that ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number? It’s a unique 13-digit code that serves as a barcode for each book. If you want to purchase ISBNs, you can do so through official ISBN agencies. Once you have your ISBN, you can register your books on Amazon using your publishing account. This allows you to keep track of sales and receive feedback.

Now, let’s talk about marketing your publishing business.

When it comes to successful marketing, the key is to have genuine enthusiasm for your work. One way to promote your business is by involving authors in online events and QA sessions. This helps create buzz and engages readers. Another way to market your business is by supporting local writing programs and book clubs. This shows your commitment to the writing community and can lead to valuable connections.

Attending writers’ conferences is also a great way to market your books. These events allow you to network with industry professionals and learn about new trends in the publishing world. By staying aware of industry trends and keeping an eye on your competitors’ actions, you can avoid common publishing mistakes and stay one step ahead.

And what about growing your publishing business?

To grow my publishing business, I need to be proactive in the industry, keep an eye on trends, and keep publishing diverse and appealing content. I can support local writing programs, attend writers’ conferences, and continuously improve my marketing strategies. It’s important for me to keep learning from my experiences and remain open to new opportunities.

What’s the key to becoming a successful owner?

The key to becoming a successful owner is to never stop striving for success. I need to stay agile and adaptable in a changing publishing landscape. It’s crucial for me to monitor the competition, identify growth areas, and expand my presence in the market. I should always be looking for ways to evolve and innovate my publishing approach to meet the changing preferences of readers and the demands of the market.