Why You Need an Imprint as an Independently Published Author
If you’re going to independently publish your work via one of the many publishing platforms available to authors, I highly recommend that you set up your own publishing imprint. Yes, just like traditional publishers, you will want your work to be published under a company name—other than your own author name—for a number of reasons.
What IS an imprint? An imprint is a trade name that you create for your independent publishing business.
Why you need an imprint name.
Credibility: You don’t want your independently published book to be immediately recognized as such. (The words Independently Published will appear by default—for instance—if you use the free ISBNs from Kindle Direct Publishing.) Even though the stigma of independent publishing has lessened, there’s no reason to advertise this fact for those who still have a bias against books produced in this manner.
Branding: It helps establish your brand. You likely plan to write more than one book and creating an imprint name will help you begin the branding process.
Portability: No matter what you choose as your imprint name, doing so will allow you to buy your own ISBNs, rather than use the free ones provided by a publishing platform. You will list your Imprint/Publisher name when you assign your ISBNs and when you enter your book’s identifying information at the time you upload content to whichever platform you’re using to publish. Owning your own ISBNs allows you to print your books wherever you like, meaning you can take this number with you if you decide that you’d rather have your book printed over at IngramSpark rather than KDP. Most publishers buy their ISBNs via Bowker.
Library of Congress: If this matters to you, you need to know that only publishers of record (meaning your own indie pub company or imprint) can register for a Library of Congress Control Number, a person/author cannot do this. Click HERE to learn more.
How do I establish an imprint?
Choose a name and set it up as a business entity. (This business entity may vary depending on the advice of your accountant/lawyer*.)
Make sure the name you have in mind is currently not in use.
1. Do a simple google search to see what pops up.
2. Check with your state’s database of registered companies. In my state the searchable database exists on the Department of Financial Institutions website; however, in other states it may be the Secretary of State’s office. You may wish to simply ‘do business as’ (DBA) the name you choose, but this step is particularly important if you plan to go one step further and register a corporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC) for your publishing business in your state. (See note below on business considerations.*)
3. Even if you’re not planning on trademarking a name/logo, you might want to see if it or a substantially similar name is in use by checking the US Trademark Database.
4. You may already have a website under your author name, but if you think that you will want to also have a website using this imprint name at any time in the future, you should check with one of the domain name seller websites to see if the imprint name you have in mind is already in use. It never hurts to acquire this domain name, even if you do not currently have plans to use it.
*NOTE ON BUSINESS CONSIDERATIONS: Personally, I like keeping my publishing business separate from my personal finances by establishing a sole proprietorship or a single member LLC under the name Lost Lake Press; however, your financial situation may require different considerations. Please consult your accountant or tax attorney for the best advice on how to set up your publishing business.
Where will people see my imprint name?
♦ In your governmental business filings, depending on how you set up your publishing business.
♦ In the databases used by retailers and book distributors (because you enter your imprint name when you assign the ISBN to one of your particular titles.)
♦ On your book’s copyright page.
♦ In your product details section on each online retailer. (Just scroll down on any book listed on Amazon and you’ll see the publisher name in that block of text that lists publication date and other info.)
♦ Possibly, on the spine of your print copies. If you choose to have a logo created for your imprint name, this is often what you will use on the spine of your books as a brand identifier rather than the words to save space.
Best of luck on your publishing adventure!! - Valerie