Imprints, Part 2: Why Start an Imprint

Thank you for joining me for part 2 of my “Imprints” series. If you missed part 1, you can read it here.

imprint part 2

This post discusses the reasons a self-publishing author might want to start an imprint. But before we review the reasons, I want to say that if you are self-publishing, you do not need to start an imprint. For example, if you are publishing only e-books, you do not need ISBNs for your e-books. Print books, however, require ISBNs. You can use free ISBNs supplied by print-on-demand companies, but the printer will be listed as the publisher. Creating an imprint is work (see part 3 of this series next week) and costs money. The decision to create an imprint should depend on your publishing goals and budget. Now let’s look at some of the reasons you might start an imprint.

You are writing under a pen name and purchased a block of ISBNs. If you purchased a block of ISBNs, the publishing company’s name associated with those ISBNs will be either your name or the name of the imprint you’ve created. Many self-publishing authors, especially those writing under a pen name, start their own publishing company because they do not want their personal name listed as the publisher of their books.

You already own a business, and you are writing a book related to your business or field. Let’s say you own a company called BakeryPlus that supplies tools and bakeware to bakeries. If you want to start publishing a series of books about baking techniques using your products, you might want to create an imprint as part of the company, such as BakeryPlus Books.

You want to print and distribute your books everywhere possible. Most print-on-demand companies offer free distribution. For example, CreateSpace offers free distribution through the CreateSpace store and Amazon. However, if you decide to take advantage of expanded distribution, you may want your book to appear more professional by having your own imprint listed as the publisher of record rather than the print-on-demand company. Not wanting to be tied to a print-on-demand company such as CreateSpace, Lulu, or Lightning Source is another reason to start your own imprint.

You want the tax benefits. Depending on the type of business structure you pick for your imprint, there are tax advantages and disadvantages. For example, sole proprietorships are fast and easy to establish and require minimal work to maintain. When you are a sole proprietor, all of your business income is personal income. As a sole proprietor, you can also deduct business expenses, such as copyediting, cover design, proofreading, and any other costs that go into publishing and marketing your book. Not having to pay corporate income taxes and not having to prepare a corporate income tax return are seen as benefits by many, but if you start to earn substantial income from your books, it might be more beneficial (tax-wise) to consider establishing an LLC or corporation. We’ll talk more about business structures in part 3 of this series.

You want to stand out as a publishing professional. There’s a lot of competition in the self-publishing world. Being able to list your imprint as the publisher can help set your book apart from a sea of others.

In part 3, I will discuss the steps to creating a publishing imprint.

Photo: “Books” by jspad

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