Monday, May 12, 2014

How to Create a Self-Publishing Name/Imprint


Or how NOT to create a name for your self-publishing company. I’ll share the mistakes I made, so hopefully these tips will help those who are considering this step in self-publishing.

The question on whether or not to create a publisher name/imprint for yourself will probably come up, especially if you’re new to self-publishing. When I decided to self-publish, I started searching on Amazon/BN and other retailers and noticed that some self-published authors either used a specific imprint, their author name or no name at all. After some research, I found an author does not need a company name to self-publish. Readers probably won’t notice or care. They search books by their favorite authors or by genre, not by a publisher name. It’s personal choice. On Amazon, for example, if you don’t select a publisher name, Amazon will show: “Amazon digital services” in that information listing. I decided to create a name for a few reasons:

·         I felt it looked more professional.
·         I decided to get an EIN# (Employee Identification Number) from the IRS for accounting purposes, and wanted to use a specific name. More on this later.
·         I wanted to have a DBA (Doing Business As) name for my separate bank account. Again for accounting purposes.
·         My own mindset to remind me I was starting a business and to treat it as such. I wrote up a five page Business Plan and also a Marketing Plan.


What Went Wrong When I Created My First Imprint

I came up with a list of possible names I thought I could use, personal choices and those I thought somewhat fit with my brand as an erotic romance author. I then started searching those names on Google, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. I thought I came up with a good name. I then went to I was filing for an EIN# as the sole proprietorship (only employee) for my small business. It’s free to do this. The online website gives lots of information.

Some authors prefer to file as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Every state has its own rules and fees. Some are pretty steep. It’s best to check with your accountant to see the best plan for you present situation, tax savings and future plans. S Corporation, or Sub Chapter S is another entity for small businesses. Again it's best to contact an accountant in your state. Every state has their own laws and forms to file.

I also found this out when I tried opening a business bank account at my bank. In addition to the EIN paperwork I received from the IRS, I need to register for a Fictitious Business Name Form

Of course the state has to get their $70 application fee. They want their cut too. 

The next step, I registered with all the retailers: Amazon, B&N, Apple, Kobo, ARe, Smashwords.

As an afterthought, I decided to register the domain for my new publishing name. Not because I planned to create a website or sell books myself, but because I wanted to have the URL and planned to link it to my website. Someone might search it someday. This is where I found my error.
That domain .com was already taken! It had been registered during the week I came up with the name. The company had been in business for years but just recently decided to create a publishing company. Not only that, they created an LLC and trademarked the exact name that I had selected. I couldn’t use the name. Now, I had to create a new name, change the name with the IRS (EIN#) and change it at all the retailers. Ugh!

The Right Way to Create a Publishing Name/Imprint

I started over and came up with a number of names, some obscure. I did a few quick searches on Google, Amazon and B&N. But then I searched the US Trademarks site. Click on Search Trademarks (also TESS under tools) Then Click Basic Word Search. And click for Live search. Type in your imprint name. Make sure there are no listings there.

Then I went to and searched the domain. It was available. I registered the .com ( The next step was to call the IRS and explain that I needed to change the DBA for my EIN# because I discovered the current name was recently trademarked. The guy at the IRS was very helpful and the change was easy. I got my updated letter in the mail a couple weeks later. He even asked me questions about self-publishing because he said he did some writing on the side.

The decision to self-publish my first book came about when I was invited into a boxed set with 15 other authors. My novel Red Tape, a sexy romantic suspense with BDSM will be my first self-publishing venture and will be included in that set. Red Tape will be released later this summer.


Cris Anson said...

Wow! A lot of hoops to jump through, but well worth it. Can't wait to see RED TAPE in print!!

Kathy Kulig said...

Thanks Cris. I didn't realize all the legal issues. Every state has their bureaucracy headaches. At this point I'd skip the biz checking account, open a regular separate checking account and avoid the PA hefty $70 fee for registering a fictitious name. I'm still paying the same taxes. I'm excited to see Red Tape come out too. More on that soon!