How to Start an E-Publishing Company

The new wave in book publishing is to produce and sell e-books. E-books are easy to create, quick to publish and fast sellers when you have a good subject. People are looking for instant information---they don't always want to wait a week to receive a physical book in the mail. When you e-publish, your target customers are time-sensitive book buyers who need information and fast. The process of e-publishing books is similar to regular publishing, but there are several important differences. A new writer who is testing the waters of the publishing industry should consider e-publishing before all other options to save money and time.

Choose a business name for your E-publishing company. Make sure that it is related to the types of e-books that you plan to produce. For instance, if your e-books will be about skin care, you might name your company "Beautiful Skin Publishing." This will help you sell more books down the line because people will be able to find your e-book business more easily.

Join a book publisher's association, such as PMA, to get support, news and product discounts for your new e-publishing business.

Purchase e-book publishing software, including Adobe Acrobat and Photoshop (for designs). You will use these regularly to create your products.

Get all of your e-books copyrighted when they are completed. You can do this by creating an electronic account with the U.S. Copyright Office (see Resources below). The fees vary from $35 to $45 per filing.

Hire an e-book designer and editor. The e-book designer should know how to create covers for and typeset your e-books. The editor will proofread and edit your e-books before they are published. Whenever you have a new rough manuscript of a book ready, it will proceed first to the editor, then to you for approval and then to the book designer. Then, either you or the book designer can publish the finished PDF file to the Web.

Establish an e-commerce website to both publicize your new e-publishing company and deliver your e-book to customers. If you prefer a more secure e-book delivery option, you can also sign up with a company such as, Clickbank or to distribute your e-book. These companies will sell and download your e-book to customers automatically in exchange for a percentage of sales. All you need to do is upload your files.

Set the pricing for your e-books at a level that will allow you a modest profit when you factor in your advertising expense, author fees (if you pay authors to write your e-books), website costs, employee wages and the cost of other independent contractors that you hire to produce your e-books.

Advertise your e-books with direct sales websites, Google Adwords, online newsletters and banner ads. The key to advertising an e-book is to grab people who are already online and seeking the information that you have to offer. For example, target a woman who has just broken up with her boyfriend with an e-book on how to find a new guy.

Keep a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel or Quicken to track your e-book sales, because you will need to pay income taxes (both self-employment tax and general income tax). Also, keep track of all of the expenses associated with your e-publishing business, including employee wages, advertising costs, software and website fees so that you can calculate your net income (profit or loss) for each year and pay the corresponding taxes. You are required to make quarterly tax payments if you expect a profit (see "Resources" below for more information).