It’s one thing to say you want to become a published author and publish your own work, but another to actually do it. An indie author that is publishing a book on their own is actually starting a business.
Thanks to the popularity of e-readers, tablets, and smartphones, writers, and anyone else who wants to get into publishing, can formalize and monetize online content production. Still, that doesn’t necessarily make it simple. Follow these tips if you want to set up a successful online publishing business.
Understand Why You Want to Start an Online Publishing Company
Before you formalize anything, you need to be clear on why you want to publish in the first place. What do you love doing? What gets you excited? Whatever it is, make it the core of your online content production.
In order to start your own online publishing company, first, you need to find answers to the following questions:
- Why have you decided to start your own publishing business?
- What kind of books do you want to publish?
- Do you plan on publishing titles from other authors, or do you want to publish your books only?
- How much revenue do you expect your online publishing business will generate?
- Where do you see your business in five years’ time?
Establishing Your Business Structure
Just as you would if you launched a traditional company, you need to choose the right business structure when starting an online business. Publishing companies come in many shapes and forms. But, in most countries, the main structures are:
- Sole proprietorship: This is the simplest form you can choose. As a sole proprietor, aka sole trader, you are the exclusive owner and operator of your business.
However, in the eyes of the law, there is no distinction between you and your business. And this is where the catch lies—you will be personally liable for all business losses.
- Corporation: A more complex structure. A corporation is a company that acts as a single entity, distinct from its owners. Perks of running a corporation include limited liability and easier access to funding.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): This structure combines the limited liability of a corporation with tax benefits that are typically available for sole proprietorships.
Most online businesses are sole proprietorships or limited liability companies. However, it’s better to operate as an LLC because your personal assets will be protected from any debts incurred by your online publishing company.
For more information on business structures, it’s best to check out resources on U.S. SBA’s site.
Choosing a Company Name
After you choose your business structure, it’s time to christen your publishing company. When deciding on a business name, pay attention to the following:
Branding: Which genres do you plan to publish? Which niche are you targeting? Answering these questions will help you define your brand, and your name should be a reflection of your brand. So, if you plan to publish fantasy novels, the name of your online publishing company should be a reflection of that.
Relatability: When coming up with a name for your business, it pays to be strategic. It’s better to use words that your target audience will already be familiar with. If you’re adamant about using made-up words, consider what they will communicate to someone who is not so familiar with them.
Searchability: People should be able to discover you without much effort. Don’t use confusing and lengthy phrasing. If you are thinking of using your own name, but it is difficult to spell or remember, it may be better to use a pen name that is simple. Also, keep your name short and to the point.
Make it official: When you come up with a name, trademark it and register a domain name. Of course, first, you’ll need to make sure that it’s not already taken.
Designing a Logo
Your logo probably won’t be as recognizable as the Random House or Penguin Classics imprints, but you should still put some effort into designing one. Your logo should reflect your brand values, just like your name.
Go for something simple, and make sure to harness the psychology of color. This guide by 99designs is very useful.
As an independent publisher, you can’t do everything by yourself. You’ll need to invest money in services such as design, editing, marketing, publicity, and intellectual property management.
You may possess some of these skills, but you still may lack others. You may be a good writer, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a good copywriter. So, don’t be shy about hiring.
You need to make room in your budget for such services if you want your business to thrive. The good news is, that you don’t need to hire in-house employees straight away.
One of the biggest perks of running an online business is that you get to do almost everything online. For instance, you can hire freelancers to help you with things like SEO, web design, or editing on platforms such as Upwork or PeoplePerHour.