How to create a publishing imprint
In this lesson, you'll learn how to create a publishing company name, also called a publishing imprint; the trade name under which you publish your work.
Creating an imprint is not required, so why bother? The key word is “professional.” Creating a business takes you out of the hobby realm, as Karl Palachuk described in his video presentation, Publish Like a Business, Not a Hobby.
How to name it
Will people know that you book is published under your own imprint? Named correctly, probably not. The big publishing houses have so many imprints that nobody can keep track of them, not to mention the innumerable independent publishing houses. These are authors or publishers who publish five or more books a year.
Should you use the word “Press” or “Publishing” behind that name? You can use whatever you like. I chose "Media" because I publish books, courses, audio, and video. Misadventures Media reflect my brand as an adventurer, and besides, King Press or King Media sounds a bit stodgy and traditional and (predictably) somebody else is already using those names. In addition, I didn’t want to look self-published by using my author name as a publisher name.
Once you’ve settled on a name (or two), do a web search to see if someone else is using it in the same context. If so, choose another.
Though you don't (necessarily) need to trademark your name, you should also search the trademark database so you don’t accidentally infringe on somebody’s trademark. (See US Trademark Database.)
What if your publisher or imprint name is trademarked by a company in a different field? You can use it! As long as there would be no confusion “in the mind of the consumer as to the source of the product.”
Please don't take my word for it, though. Do get legal advice if there's any doubt in your mind.
Once you’ve chosen a name and cleared it through the interwebs, file a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Statement or a Doing Business As (DBA) in the place where you do business. You can hire a service to do this for you for around $100, and it’s totally worth it. (I like LegalZoom.)
You actually own a common-law trademark as soon as you start selling books under your publisher or imprint name. You don’t have to register a trademark, though you can if you like. It will cost over $300 and you may be denied, without refund.
Registering your imprint name as a trademark could be overkill.
— Helen Sedwick, Author, Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook
My Wild Writing Women writer's group created an LLC and trademarked our name when we started doing business together teaching workshops and running a conference. It cost us over $2000 and that was with a "friend" discount!
It turned out that the act of purchasing and using the domain name (we had a very active website) pretty much guaranteed that we were eligible.
I've known many authors who have tried to trademark their imprint name and failed. I don't think it's worthwhile unless you're going to create a larger business from it, but don't take my word for it. Please do consult a legal professional for advice.
Bank accountOnce you have a DBA you can open a business bank account youto accept checks and deposits to your company name. Opening a separate bank account for your business is a great way to keep your business finances away from your personal finances. You’ll be happy you did, come tax time.
What makes a successful logo? Simplicity!
Remember, it needs to go on the spine of a book, so it’s got to be small. Use Google to search for “create a logo” and you’ll find lots of low-cost automated logo generators. Or use a service like Fiverr or 99Designs.
Now that you've decided on your imprint name, it's time to file a Fictitious Name Statement or a DBA (Doing Business As). The next lesson shows you how.