Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Forming Your Own Publishing House

As many of you know, I'm in the throes of self-publishing my novel.  I had MANY author friends (including my Oasis Sisters) to lean on for help and guidance, so I thought I'd share some of what I've learned with any of you considering the same route.

One of the first things you may be wondering if you're thinking about self-publishing is why some authors take the time to set up a "publishing house," which is really nothing more than themselves.

Why bother with this, you may ask?  A number of reasons.

*  Added credibility.  Your publisher on Goodreads and Amazon won't be listed as CreateSpace or whoever else you use to print your novels.  You get to fill a publisher's name in the blank.  (With so many big houses having lesser-known imprints these days, most readers probably won't take time to distinguish you from them.)

*  You can purchase your own ISBN number.  Many companies that want to sell you an ISBN charge a huge mark-up.  The process is pretty painless and it's worth it to DIY.  Plus, you are not truly the publisher unless you purchase the ISBN yourself.

*  When you're setting up accounts with Amazon or Lightning Source, etc., they want a business name.  My Amazon user ID (like a stock symbol) is based on my publishing name, not Jessie Harrell.  It's my belief that having a publishing name makes the application process for these companies easier.

*  When you're ready to put your second, third, fourth, novels out there, you can publish them under a unified banner.  Once your "company" has multiple titles, it will be easier to get into the catalogs for Expended Distribution or be considered for purchase by libraries, etc.

*  Vanity.  If I'm being honest, I like that there's a publisher's name on the spine of my book and on the title page.  I endeavored to make my novel as closely resemble a traditionally-published novel as I could, and this just made it one step closer for me.

In case you're curious, my publishing name is Mae Day Publishing (can you tell I thought I'd need rescue?)  To do this, I registered my fictitious name with the State and ran an inexpensive ad in the local paper.  Blamo.  Now I'm a publisher.  I even got really cutesy and drew myself a logo -- this is my boss' dog, Mae, the paper-eating pooch who was really the inspiration for the name.
Got any questions?  I'm happy to drop by and answer them throughout the day.  Writers helping writers -- I'm just paying it forward.

Anyone have any other really compelling reasons to create your own publishing company before you self publish? Please share!


  1. What I'm curious to know are the legal and tax ramifications of setting up a business with a separate name. Will you have to file a separate return for this new entity? I live in a city that charges a "business privelege tax", so I suspect the separate entity makes sense if my husband and I both wanted to self publish--all profits would channel through one place, and we'd pay the tax once instead of twice as "self employed." Any chance you'll post in the future about these kinds of business considerations?

  2. Wow, there really is more to self publishing than most people realize. Thanks, Jessie, for explaining this. :)

  3. Hi Laurel -- It seems like you'd probably need to consult your accountant about local tax ramifications. I know that here in Florida, my account will consider all of my losses (which I expect will outweigh the profits this year) as part of my personal income. Since Mae Day publishing is not a corporation, just me d/b/a Mae Day, I will not do a separate filing.

  4. Hmm...I hadn't ever thought of these things. Thanks for being so open and honest, Jessie.

  5. Interesting...But I think consulting with an accountant is a great idea.

    And having a DBA and deducting such business expenses is a huge red flag for an IRS audit.

    I've seen several writers form their own publishing house together too.

  6. I set up my own publishing company, Shore Road Publishing, for many of those reasons and the fact that I can leave it to my daughter should (God forbid) anything happen to me. With Indie pubbing, you always have to think of the "long tail". Great post.

  7. This is incredibly helpful, as I'm looking into this right now. What was the process to 'setting up a company'? Is it numbered, or no?

    I definitely want to go this route, but have an added complication...I am co-authoring a book with someone who lives in the US (I'm in Canada). I'm wondering who's tax laws and all that are more advantageous to go with. We're planning a series of books. Thanks for sharing this--I think anything we can do to make a book look as close to traditional is a smart move.


  8. I'm totally behind approaching publishing even if it's only for your own titles as a business. You never know how you may grow and many small press publishers started off publishing their own works. Great information sharing Jessie!


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