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How to name your author-publisher business and your publishing (imprint)

Authors who go pro need a business name and a publishing house name, which can be the same as your publisher imprint. Open a business bank account and simplify accounting and taxes by purchasing your ISBNs and all of  your publishing expenses using that account. Here are the steps: 

  1. Choose your name(s)
  2. Make sure you're not infringing on someone else's trademark
  3. Use the name to create a business (recommend a sole-proprietorship LLC)
  4. Name your publishing "house" the same
  5. Consider different imprints if you have more than one brand 

But first, what's in a publisher name? 

Your business name, publisher name, and imprint name can all be the same. If you want your publisher/imprint name to be "Paisley Press" then you'll need to set up an LLC named Paisley Press, LLC. You'll purchase ISBNs under that name, and copyright your book under that name, too.

So your business name (LLC), your brand, your publisher name, and your imprint name may all be the same.

...or they could be different.

Your author-publisher name

For example. The name of my business is Misadventures Media, LLC. I purchase ISBNs and copyright my books under that LLC. But because I write on two very different topics, I have two imprints under my business/publisher name: Motorcycle Misadventures and Destination Published. Like my own name, Carla King, these are brands. 

If I were starting out today, I'd probably use this strategy, instead:

These are my current names and brands:
  • Business: Misadventures Media, LLC
  • Brand/Imprint: Misadventures Media
  • Brand/Imprint: Destination Published
  • Brand/Imprint: Motorcycle Misadventures
  • Website: CarlaKing.com
  • Website: DestinationPublished.com
If I had a do-over, I might do this instead:
  • Business: Carla King Media, LLC
  • Brand/Imprint: Carla King Media
  • Brand/Imprint: Destination Published
  • Brand/Imprint: Motorcycle Misadventures
  • Website: CarlaKing.com
  • Website: DestinationPublished.com

Have your fans given you a nickname?

Sometimes you've got to go with the flow regarding branding. People regularly call me the Queen of Self-Publishing (Carla "King"-right?) and early on in my adventure writing career I was nicknamed "Miss Adventuring" so I am @missadventuring everywhere. So if your fans do that for you... awesome! That's how you connect.

Step-by-Step

  1. Choose a name(s)
  2. Make sure you're not infringing on someone's copyright or trademark.
  3. Set up an LLC (sole proprietorship) and file a DBA, etc. There are companies who can do this for you pretty cheaply.
  4. Get a business banking account and debit/credit cards.
  5. Register your copyright. Get your resale certificate. Create a business plan and a sales strategy. Pay your taxes. Do all the things! I have a course that will help you set things up right.
Create your Author & Publisher Business

walks you through setting up an author-publisher business every step of the way.

A Self-Paced Course

I offer a course bundle that covers naming, LLCs, DBAs, ISBNs, and legal questions and how-to about copyright and sales taxes and many other business topics. Make it easy on yourself to set it up, step by step. Go check out the Set Up Your Publishing Business course bundle.

What authors and publishers are saying...


These courses are easy enough for newbies and enlightening for those like myself with publishing experience. 

If you are interested in going the indie publishing route, I suggest you start here and travel with Carla!


Karen KappePublisher, Tragus Media Project


"Carla’s courses are a must for the novice and seasoned self-publisher alike. She lays out the essential steps in a logical and understandable way. She’ll answer questions you didn’t know you had about the publishing industry!"

—Jeanette F. ChaplinEd.D., author, Fireweed Glow

Tamara Merrill, The Augustus Family Trilogy, Konstellation Press

"It's actually fun to take these lessons. They are full of good advice, practical tips, and they include tons of resource material, all presented in a manner that is easy to follow and use. Carla's infectious, bright personality and generous willingness to help others work their way through the jungle of self-publishing is evident throughout the course."

—Tamara Merrill, author, The Augustus Family Trilogy 

A Note About Your Publisher Biz and ISBNs

When you publish using your own ISBNs purchased with your own publisher (imprint) name, you'll only need to use ISBN per book format. That way, you can print and distribute that book wherever you like. Otherwise, you'll need to use a different ISBNs for the same book when it's published (printed or distributed) with another company. (See my blog post here.)

All About ISBNs

Find out more about ISBNs in this blog post.

For example, if you use Amazon KDP to publish your paperback, your paperback is listed with an Amazon ISBN. If you add IngramSpark print distribution, then the same book is listed with Ingram's ISBN. The ebook may have an Amazon KDP (Kindle) ISBN, a Smashwords ISBN, an Ingram ISBN, a D2D ISBN, and so on. All this can make sales tracking very complicated. So simplify. Know what you're selling, where, and for how much. Track your business. Get serious.

Make Your Book Business a Business and Not a Hobby

Creating a business takes you out of the hobby realm. Get serious. Write off expenses. Join professional organizations. Create a writing and publishing mastermind group. Write more books. Test early drafts with your readers. Create a giveaway to grow your email list. Use preorders. All this can be a whirlwind of fun and truly rewarding.

BONUS! Get your free self-publisher's toolkit here

You'll get my Consumer's Guide for writers, a metadata cheatsheet, and a book launch checklist to make your own in your writing, marketing, and publishing journey.

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Carla King
 

Carla King is a travel and technology writer turned author and self-publishing expert. She started self-publishing in 1995 and founded the Self-Pub Boot Camp series of educational books, workshops, and online courses in 2010. She runs the self-publishing and technology track at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a series of online courses at www.selfpubbootcampcourses.com.

  • Such a nice blog post.

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