Among the items that make your book scream self-published is a free or vanity imprint, logo, and free ISBN. It's not that difficult or even expensive to invest in your own ISBNs and create your own publisher imprint logo. Here's what you need:
- Purchase your own ISBNs (see my post here)
- Register a publisher imprint
- Create a logo for your imprint
- Get an EIN (see my post here)
Why bother? Helen Sedwick, in her Self-Publisher's Legal Handbook, correctly points out that "Many bookstores, reviewers, bloggers, contests, and readers refuse to consider self-published work." It doesn't take a lot of work to get serious and set up a real business.
Create Your Publisher Imprint
An imprint is a brand identity associated with a publisher. Publishers can form more than one imprint. You can do this if you publish books in completely separate genres. For example, I have registered two imprints under my company Misadventures Media. Self-Pub Boot Camp is the imprint I use for my self-publishing guides. Motorcycle Misadventures is an imprint for my motorcycle adventure travel books.
These imprints are associated with my business (and publisher name) Misadventures Media. So I don’t need DBAs or EINS or separate business bank accounts for Self-Pub Boot Camp or Motorcycle Misadventures. They’re both associated with (reside under the umbrella of) Misadventures Media. I've registered Misadventures Media as a business with a DBA (Doing Business As, or Fictitious Business Name), a business license for my city, and a business bank account. I've also registered an EIN (tax ID) for that business.
Do Your Due Diligence
Obviously, you need to make sure the publisher name you want isn't already taken. Search the web first. If the name is taken but it's not associated with publishing it's probably safe to use it. But take it one step further and search the trademark database in your country. (Here's the US trademark office search.)
Register the Imprint with Bowker
When you fill out your ISBN record for your book you’ll be asked for your publisher imprint name. Here's how you do it in the US: Login to your Bowker MyIdentifiers account and add an Imprint under your Publisher or Company Name by clicking on the MyAccount > My Profile Data > My Company menu. Scroll to the bottom and add the name of your new imprint. Here's what it looks like once your imprint is registered, which only takes a day or two.
Here's the text of the information you get when you hit the question mark next to the Imprint field.
I'm glad Bowker explained this on the site. Their service is improving every day. (Look for a new Bowker MyIdentifiers website soon!) There are no imprint police. So please make sure you’re not using a name already in use or trademarked.
Creating Your Logo
Your publisher imprint name and logo will be printed on the spine of your book, on your title page, and your website, to name just a few places. Take a look at professionally-published books on your bookshelf for ideas of what's appropriate for your logo. It can be an image or just a type treatment.
Some free logo maker tools let you create the logo for free but charge you to download it. I feel this is misleading, not to mention frustrating after you've spent all that time playing with the design. So I like Canva's free template-based logo maker. It's free, easy, and produces high-quality logos for print and web use. I spent a little over five minutes to create these three rough examples.
If you don't want to do it yourself you can somebody to do it for you on the Fiverr site starting at about $20.
If you want your book to look just like one published by one of the Big 5 companies or respected independent publishers, make sure that it's edited, designed, and produced professionally. Make sure you've set up a business with a publisher or imprint name and a logo. Have your cover and interior designers work together to marry the design and typography of the cover and the title page, such as on this (randomly chosen) book I just found on Amazon.
There's a lot to do but it's not rocket science, so you can just work your way through it. This is just one step in the process. Find complete instructions in my guide Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Independent Authors and my course Set Up Your Publishing Business. Helen Sedwick's Self-Publisher's Legal Handbook should also be on your publisher's bookshelf. Also consider David Wogahn's Register Your Book: The Essential Guide to ISBNs, Barcodes, Copyright, and LCCNs.
Here's to your future as a professional author-publisher!
- Should Indie Authors Use a Publishing Imprint? by David Wogahn for BookWorks.com
- Notes from the Field: The Advantages of Having an Imprint by BW author Carole P. Roman
- Author LLC: When Should Writers Incorporate? by Helen Sedwick for BookWorks.com
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