Imprints, Part 3: How to Start Your Imprint

Now that we have covered some common questions regarding imprints and the reasons why an author might start an imprint, you might be ready to start your own. Here’s how to do it:

imprints part 31. Decide on a name for your imprint. The authors of APE say, “Using your last name as the publisher’s name screams ‘self-published’ and, even worse, ‘I lack imagination.’ Pick a street name, a pet’s name, a geographical landmark.…Anything is better than your last name for your company’s name.” Think of a name that will identify the books you’ll be publishing or a name that has some significance to you. It should catch attention and be easy to remember. Start brainstorming, and Google the name you want to use to make sure it’s not already in use. If you plan on creating a website for your imprint, also think of possible domain names and make sure they aren’t already in use.

2. Decide on a business structure for your imprint. Sole proprietorships and limited liability companies (LLCs) are some of the most common, but review the pros and cons to all business structures and decide on what’s best for you. The advice I was given was to start simple (i.e., as a sole proprietor). If things start to really take off, then consider becoming an LLC or corporation. You can also use the Incorporation Wizard at to help in your decision. If you still aren’t sure what to do, consider getting free and confidential mentoring through SCORE, an organization that can connect you to business mentors in your area.

3. Decide whether you will need a separate address for business purposes.  If you decide to register your imprint as a fictitious name, the registration of the name becomes a public record. This record will include the name of the owner and the owner’s mailing address. If you want to protect your personal information, you might consider renting a post office box or setting up a virtual mailing address to use instead of your home address.

4. Register and establish your imprint. Check with your city, county, and state for the requirements of establishing a business entity. Requirements vary by business structure and location. In most states, you will be required to register a fictitious name if you are a sole proprietor and apply for city and county business licenses or permits.

5. Set up a business bank account. Bring a copy of your fictitious name registration or corporation filing to the bank. Most banks require that the name already be registered. Use this bank account for all business transactions.

6. Start using your imprint. When purchasing ISBNs through Bowker, list your imprint as the company in your My Identifiers account. List your imprint as the publisher in the appropriate field when uploading files to different distributors.

7. Create a website for your imprint (optional). This is just another avenue to drive potential customers to your book. A website for your imprint can be different from your book or author website, or it can all be the same. If you don’t want to create a website, you can even buy a domain for your imprint and have it mapped to your book or author website.

8. Create a logo for your imprint (optional). In the print version of your book, place the logo on the bottom of your book’s spine and at the bottom of the title page. Put the logo on your website and social media accounts.

This concludes the three-part “Imprint” series. I look forward to your comments and questions, and I will be making updates to these posts as I come across more information.

Photo: Reading by jepoirrier

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