While self-publishing can be extremely rewarding and a great business venture, it’s vital for self-publishers to look professional. Things like using a free or vanity imprint, logo, and ISBN can make you look like an amateur and should be avoided.  It’s not too expensive or difficult to invest in your own ISBNs and create your own publisher’s imprint logo. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to do:

Why It’s Important to Have a Self-Publisher Imprint name 1

Why bother with doing all those things? In Helen Sedwick’s Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook, she 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.

What you’ll learn in this post

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • How to create your publisher imprint
  • Why it’s important to do your due diligence
  • How to create your logo

Create Your Publisher Imprint

According to Bowker, “An imprint is a trade name, or brand name, used by a publisher to identify a line of books or a publishing arm within the organization. You may have multiple imprints. The imprints may be developed to market works to different buyer interests.”

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 MyAccount > My Profile Data > My Company and add the name of your new imprint.

Note that Bowker wants you to use your main imprint name and not the sub imprint. So I would enter: Misadventures Media and not the three imprints registered to it.

THERE ARE NO IMPRINT POLICE! Please make sure you’re not using a name already in use or trademarked. The owner may eventually find you.

Create 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.

And honestly, a type treatment may do very well. MM works well for Misadventures Media. Keep it simple!

In Summary

If you want your book to look just like one published by one of the Big 4 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 (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.

There’s a lot to do but it’s not rocket science, so you can just work your way through it task by task. Yep. This is just one step in the process.

Find complete instructions in the Nonfiction Authors Association’s Book Marketing Master Course.

Here’s to your future as a professional author-publisher!

If you want to read about some of the pros and cons of self-publishing, straight from experts that have done it, go here.

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