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How to start a book publishing company

You don’t have to be rich to launch your own business. In fact, you don’t even need to publish other authors’ books. You may want to publish your own books under a formal company brand, to give it a professional makeover and remove the stigma associated with self-published books.

But before you roll up your sleeves and actually start your book publishing company, take a step back and ask yourself these questions.

  • Am I going to publish a number of books rather than just one or two?
  • Do I have any related experience in book publishing – as a writer, editor, proofreader?
  • Will I be operating as a professional publisher and not just looking at it as a hobby?
  • Am I willing to invest the time, effort and money and stay committed for an extended duration before seeing the fruits of my labour?

If your answer to most (if not all) of these questions is an emphatic Yes, then starting a book publishing company may be the right career move for you.

Benefits of starting your own book publishing business

There are numerous advantages to starting your independent book publishing business.

  1. A book publishing company gives the book a more professional feel as compared to those that are self-published by the authors. This can result in a greater number of readers purchasing these books.
  2. When you already have the basic knowledge, infrastructure and processes in place, you can offer your services to other authors. That’s a good way to ramp up your income (by splitting the sales revenue with your authors i.e. royalty), with minimal additional effort.
  3. Running your business as a company offers several advantages including a layer of security vis-á-vis running the same business as an individual. Check out the different company structures and their advantages, disadvantages and select the one that works best for you. Hire a professional if all this gets a bit too much to handle.
  4. There may be tax benefits depending on how the tax authorities interpret your publishing activities. If it is seen purely as a personal part-time hobby, the additional income will be viewed and taxed differently. If you’ve started a book publishing company, the government looks at you as an entrepreneur and can give you tax breaks for your start up. The assumption here is that new ventures would incur a loss in the initial years before they can turn it into a profit.

How to start a book publishing company

There are a number of steps involved in starting a book publishing company, and some of these can vary based on where you live, the type of business and other factors. So, consider these as general guidelines as opposed to a comprehensive how-to guide:

1. Assess your goals before starting off

Before starting off, you’ll need to ask yourself a number of operational questions. These are different from the introspective ones you asked yourself earlier.

  • What type of books would I want to publish?
  • How much income am I expecting to earn?
  • Will I be publishing books of a particular genre only?
  • What will my biggest challenge be?
  • How do I plan on growing my book publishing business?

Getting answers to these questions will help you realize your business plan and decisions in the near future. This will help you set clearer goals for your book publishing company.

2. Give your business a unique name

Providing a unique name to your book publishing business is essential, as it helps to build a strong brand.

Your company name must be relevant and easy to remember.

It’s taken years for names such as Penguin and HarperCollins to become synonymous with publishing. You aren’t competing with them (yet), but you do want your company name to communicate what you do.

Being creative can help you find a book publishing company name that doesn’t need to be a household name to tell your audience what you do.

As an example, we chose Booksoarus after a lot of brainstorming and research. We believe it clearly shows our positioning, as a dinosaur-booking company book-related brand.

Also make sure that the domain with this name exists. More on this below.

3. Find an appropriate business model that works for your company

There are a number of different business models to choose from. These include sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company (LLC), partnerships, corporations. You need to decide which one works best for you.

  • Sole Proprietorship: In this business model, a single person owns and runs the company. This is one of the simplest business models.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): In LLCs, company owners are not liable for their business’ loss or debts. It offers better liability protection than any other business models.
  • Partnerships: In this, two or more people jointly setup and manage a company.
  • Corporations: It is a business model created by shareholders and stockholders which is separate from its owners.

Physical company vs online company

What type of book publishing company should you launch?

If you are starting small and don’t have the investment resources like the other bigger companies that you are competing with, it may be better off if you start off online to test the waters. If you can get a foot in the door, you can always look for other ways to expand.

Benefits of online over physical (brick-and-mortar) business:

  1. Easy to launch
  2. Lesser investments
  3. Easier to scale up
  4. Lesser number of people needed to run the show
  5. Opens up a global market as opposed to focusing on a specific city or location
  6. If you are opening up a physical space; rent, location, and infrastructure cost will also have to be taken into consideration

4. Get a Company Identification Number

You will need to obtain a company registration number which will help identify your business and track it. You’ll get this as part of the official company registration process.

For example, in the United States this would be the Employer Identification Number (EIN).

We cannot go into more depth on this point, as the process would differ from country to country. But it’s easy to find several online companies and offline professionals who’ll handle the paperwork for you, as a small fee.

Just search for the relevant phrases (‘How to register a publishing company in USA’, ‘Steps and cost to start a company in India’) and you’ll find several country-specific experts offering advice and services.

5. Start up a business account for your company

After obtaining your company identification number, you can setup a separate account for your business.

To handle all transactions related to your business, it always looks more professional if your client is paying the company.

Look at it from the client’s perspective, there’s more credibility in paying your fee to an official bank account instead of an individual’s personal account.

And of course there are other benefits such as you are able to maintain your business transactions separately and handle the accounting and tax requirements more conveniently.

6. Get your website domain registered

An important step in starting a book publishing company is to get a website domain registered after your business name.

Having an online website is crucial as it helps your clients understand your work and connect with you from all across the world. This gives them a better knowledge about your business and its operations.

You can get this through domain name registrars, such as GoDaddy.

A direct match would be fantastic ( But a creative variation might also work (e.g.,

Buy this website:

We started over 7 years back, when our primary revenue earning site (related to MBA essay editing) was still not as popular as it is today.

Right now, our entire focus is on running that site. So if the idea of owning this technically optimized website sounds exciting, drop us an email with your offer/proposal: info [at[ booksoarus [dot] com

7. Expand your team

List out all the activities you’ll need to do as a publisher. Then figure out how to get those skills under your company brand.

You could decide to hire experienced and trustworthy people to manage some of the responsibilities. You can also decide to outsource tasks that are too expensive to manage in-house.

For instance, you don’t need to buy a printing press. In fact, even the top publishing companies in the world send their printing requirements to partnering companies with the expertise and printing machines to handle large printing jobs.

In theory, you could manage the entire show without hiring a single full-time employee. There are freelance experts and companies in every department (editing, type-setting, cover design, book distribution), offering their services on a contractual basis.

This may save you a ton of cash that you’d otherwise need, if you decide to do everything within the company.

8. Start marketing your brand to reach a larger audience

Social media is one of the best ways to connect with your audience as it helps promote your work and books.

It helps you reach a larger audience and acquaint them with your services. Also, attending book fairs, exhibitions, and conferences is a great way to market your company as you meet a better target audience.

Costs of starting a book publishing company

The registration cost varies depending on your country. Usually, it is from $60-$800.

This is only for the regulatory aspects; additionally you will incur operational costs.

For instance, the biggest cost if you’re opening a physical office is rentals and we also have employee salaries.

Instead of hiring a big team, it might be easier for you to work with freelancers in the early stages rather than hiring full time employees.

As your company grows and so does the profit, you can consider hiring full time editors, designers, proofreaders, typesetters, accountants, marketers and business development professionals.

Office rents in big metros can be prohibitive so you might want to consider starting off in a tier-2/3 or even better have an online presence.

Also think about the break-even and RoI calculations for each book you print. What’s the cost of printing a book? How much should you sell it for, to not only recover your costs, but to also make a profit? How many copies will you have to sell to break-even?

You’ll probably have many other aspects to think about once you set the ball rolling. But don’t let that intimidate you right now. Take the first few steps to review what you need to do to launch your company.

If you have the right knowledge, skills and more importantly, the determination to do it, you’ll find ways to overcome the hurdles that come up along the way.

Good luck!

Further reading:

  1. How to start a freelance book editing business
  2. How to market yourself as a freelance editor

About Sameer Kamat
Founder of Booksoarus. Author of 2 bestsellers - 'Beyond The MBA Hype' (HarperCollins) and 'Business Doctors - Management Consulting Gone Wild'.

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