publisher imprint how to create one

Maybe you’ve been writing your own books for a long time. Maybe you’re preparing to make a huge multi-novel series. Maybe you just want to spice up your self-publishing lifestyle.

For all these reasons and many more, you may want to consider investing in a publisher imprint for your self-publishing career. What exactly is an imprint, and why is it important? We’re glad you asked!

Publisher imprints are much less complicated than you think, and if you’re willing to do your research, you could end up creating one for yourself!

Let’s take a deep dive into some of the most important parts of publisher imprints, including:

  • What publisher imprints actually are
  • Why publisher imprints are important
  • How to make a publisher imprint
  • Publisher imprint FAQs
  • Helpful publisher imprint resources

Publisher Imprints Defined

Before we start talking about what a publisher imprint is, let’s define exactly what it’s not.

Imprints are not:

  • A free Amazon KDP number
  • A business name
  • A nice picture under your book’s barcode

Truthfully, a publisher imprint is a unique name or brand that is the official publisher of your book. While it can be turned into a business in the future, that’s not the imprints’ formal purpose.

Imprints are:

  • A publisher name you make yourself
  • Associated with a single ISBN (unless you buy multiple codes)
  • Great for branding and marketing purposes

Your publisher imprint is a unique identifier that becomes attached to a self-purchased ISBN number. In this way, it is fully separated from any other book on the market. Your publisher imprint will be displayed to readers on the inside of your book, within the ISBN itself, and in all legal documentation should you decide to establish a formal business.

Related article: Book Design and Layout Software: How To Get Started

Are Publisher Imprints Really Important?

The importance of a publisher imprint is truly in the eye of the beholder. Thousands of self publishers choose to license their books directly to Amazon’s free KDP number. If you are planning to write without any significant marketing, or if you simply don’t care what happens to your work, this is a perfectly fine route to take.

If you are looking to take your self-publishing career to the next level, publisher imprints are very important indeed.

Publisher imprints benefits their owners in three primary ways:

  1. Professionalism: Marketing a book with a publisher other than your name looks clean-cut and modern to readers. It may also help you sell copies within physical stores like Barnes and Noble.
  2. Better Reception: Putting extra time and money into a publisher imprint proves that you’re dedicated to your work. Because of this, you can expect to see more readers and better word-of-mouth referrals.
  3. Future Expansion: Even if your current imprint does not count as a business, it can quickly and easily be turned into one down the line. Should you decide to start writing full-time, or start picking up other writer’s novels under your name, getting an imprint will be extremely important.

There’s no question that pursuing a publisher imprint is an important part of marketing a successful book. Now that you’re familiar with all its many benefits, let’s take a look at how you can get a publisher imprint of your very own.

Step-By-Step Process To Developing A Publisher Imprint

There are five major steps involved in creating a self-publisher imprint. However, not all of them will apply to your situation, especially if you aren’t planning on opening a business. We’ll start out with the most basic of steps:

1. Choosing A Name

Naming your publisher imprint may easily be the hardest step on this list. After all, you’ll want to choose something meaningful, but not too sappy. Unique, but not all that shocking. Truthfully, you should pick a name that encapsulates who you are and what you like to write.

If you’re stuck between one or more names, ask friends or family members for input. If you already own some established social media channels, consider asking your readers for additional insights.

2. Researching The Name

As sad as this is, not every publisher imprint is available for use. Some names are already copyrighted, or even formalized into LLCs. Once you have a basic idea of what names you want, you’ll need to start checking them for availability within your country.

Feeling anxious? You don’t have to be! You can use a few quick (and free) tools to jumpstart the process.

  • Type in your potential name on Google to check for any results.
  • Check the LLC registry within your state. This is likely through a .gov page, and will not cost any money!
  • Search the Federal Trademark Database to see what your competition looks like.

If all your potential names have been struck down, never fear! Finding the next best thing could be just a keyword away. Try switching up the order of your words, or removing one in place of another. Who knows? Maybe you’ll like things better that way!

3. Register The Publisher Imprint

Now that you’ve chosen the perfect name, it’s time to put it into action! If you’re just planning on using your imprint for marketing purposes, you can register in one of two ways:

  • File a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) in your county.
  • Submit a Doing Business As (DBA) certificate in your city or state.

Bear in mind that there will be a fee to register your name, but this is usually no more than a few dollars. If you’re worried about doing something wrong, you can always hire a lawyer for help. But remember: if you’re not using your imprint to make money, there’s no further action needed on your end.

If you do intend to continue licensing your imprint as a business, please speak with someone in the legal field.

4. Create A Logo

Here comes the fun stuff! With your new name in tow, you can begin coming up with brand images that encapsulate exactly what your imprint is all about. You can choose to create this logo on your own using personal software, or you can hire out a professional graphic designer to do the job. The important part is to make something memorable and high quality.

In other words, something you want people to see on your book’s cover.

5. Build A Website

Create a website that holds your imprint’s domain name. This will allow you to show off your books in an easy-to-navigate repository (and you’ll look a lot more professional, too.)

FAQ: Making A Publisher Imprint For Your Book

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about making a publisher imprint.

Q: Do I have to make an LLC to open a publisher imprint?

A: The short answer: no. The longer answer: it’s complicated. If you want to conduct official business using your imprint, you’ll need to establish some baseline documentation with your state. If you only want to make a publisher imprint for your own satisfaction, no worries! All you have to do is fill out some preliminary paperwork to get the ball rolling.

Q: Can I change my publisher imprint name after it’s officially established?

A: Once your imprint name is published under a particular ISBN number, there’s no way to change it without republishing the registered books. You can purchase a new ISBN number to make a new name, but this would not allow you to continue publishing previous novels (unless you run a reprint).

Q: Where will my publisher imprint name appear?

A: Your imprint name will appear in five different places: inside the ISBN number, on your website, in its Library of Congress filing, within its copyright, and on the book sales page. If you choose to set up a legal business with your imprint name, you’ll also need to put it on your legal distribution accounts. This includes bank accounts, PO boxes, and other formal business papers.

Q: How much does it cost to get a publisher imprint ISBN?

A: Although this can sometimes vary from state to state, the general answer is anywhere between $85 and $125 per ISBN number. Some authorized resellers can sell imprints for less, but this will require more research on your part. Be prepared to spend at least $100 between taxes and other fees.

Related article: How To Set Up Your Kindle eBook Layouts and Page Margins

Publisher Imprint Resources

As you go through the process of getting a publisher imprint, keep in mind that choosing the right resources can make the difference between a few hours and a few weeks of work. Finding the right resources can be tricky, and if you already work another full-time job, it may be extremely difficult to discover the tools you need.

Here are a few publisher imprint resources to speed up your journey.

Now you know why imprints are important, how to find the perfect name for your company, and how to move step-by-step through the purchasing process. Only one more step remains: actually getting it done!

Maybe it all sounds like too much work for you, or perhaps you’re hesitant to spend money on a project you’re not sure will pan out. At the end of the day, the decision is entirely up to you. Just keep in mind that you’ll never know how successful your imprint could be without giving it 110%.