What You Need to Start an Author Business
One thing many indie authors come to terms with is that they’re not just publishing a book, they’re starting an author business. Here’s what you need to get it going: a publishing imprint comprised of an appropriate name and logo, a budget that takes into account the book marketing you’ll need to do to make that money back, and—more likely than not—a little hired help.
Choose a Business Name/Publishing Imprint
Your publishing imprint might not carry the kind of power and weight associated with Penguin Random House or HarperCollins, but it does say something about the author brand you’re building. Whether or not you plan to register your imprint as an actual business has little effect on what you should (or shouldn’t) name it.
Consider the genre in which you write. When Little, Brown and Company started a new imprint for thrillers, they chose the name Mulholland Books, which references Mulholland Drive in California because of its notorious twists and turns.
Ask yourself what values you want your author brand to convey. If your romance novels have a Christian theme, you might steer toward values of chastity, Christianity, and faithfulness, and stay away from something overt like Let’s Do It! Books. You might also consider the mission of your book and your author business. Is your book educational or escapist? Do you plan to write a book series? If you write nonfiction, informative books, you might want to incorporate words that refer to learning; Little School Books, History Ridge Publications, etc.
Optimize your imprint’s searchability. If your last name is difficult to spell don’t use it in your imprint; readers will have a hard time locating you when they try to Google your publishing imprint. Stay away from confusing words and phrases, and make your business name/imprint easy to remember.
Be original and make sure the name you choose is available. You cannot use the same imprint as anyone else. In fact, your business name should be completely original and not play on the name of another imprint. In other words, HarleQueen and HarleKing are much too close to Harlequin, so probably best just to steer clear and check the availability of the business name you want to use beforehand.
Remember, the name you choose as your publishing imprint will convey your author brand so choose wisely.
Choose a Logo for Your Publisher Imprint
Your imprint logo won’t be as recognizable as the penguin on the spine of Penguin classics or the recognizable house of the Random House imprints, but you should still consider it the face of your author brand. Like your author business name, your logo should reflect the values you want to convey. Choose colors that match or complement your author website and keep it simple. Remember, the logo needs to fit on the spine of your books yet still be able to communicate your author brand at a glance, so best not to choose something too intricate. Like your business name, your logo must be completely original; you cannot use an image you don’t own. Consider hiring a professional book designer to create an imprint logo for you. That way you’ll be sure not to infringe on anyone’s copyrighted image or use one that you shouldn’t.
Set a Budget
You’re most likely already aware that as an independent publisher you’ll be investing money in your book for services including editing, design, printing, shipping, and to purchase ISBNs. However, you should simultaneously be creating a sales and book marketing plan that enables you to earn that money back. Your book marketing strategy should be in full swing as you work to bring your book to market so you avoid digging a financial hole. Publishing a book and setting it for distribution will sell some books organically, but it takes more than that to sell a substantial amount of books. As the owner of an author business consider the marketing you’ll need to do to get the word out about your book and help you recoup your investment when you begin the publishing journey, not after your book has already published.
Although you might have some professional skills in the areas of editing, design, website creation, publicity, and marketing, it’s a monumental task to do it all. Should you decide to take it all on, be sure to do some research in order to find the best DIY tools available to help you do things the right way. And don’t be shy about hiring the kind of help you need to give your author business its best chance for success.
Although starting your business can be fun and exciting, it’s also a lot of work. But with a little guidance and determination, it’s well within your grasp to make it happen and make it successful as well.