How to Start a Publishing Company

Updated July 12, 2018

You've written a great manuscript, but you can't get an agent or publishing house to give you the time of day. There are several options open to you, including starting your own publishing business. You don't have to share the profit with anyone, and you have total control over your project. And once you learn how to run your publishing business, you can begin publishing other authors' work.

Start Up

Check the legal requirements for your community. See if you need any licenses and if there are any restrictions on having a business in your home.

Decide on a name for your publishing company. Register your business name with the appropriate state agency.

File papers of incorporation if you plan to incorporate.

Design a logo so your company will be easily recognizable.

Purchase a block of International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) from R.R. Bowker. Each book will have a specific number linking it back to your publishing company.

Select a software program in which to lay out your books. Microsoft Word, WordPerfect or Microsoft Publisher work well.

Pick a software program to design the cover of your books. PageMaker, Quark Xpress or Adobe InDesign work well. You can always hire a graphic artist for this too.

The Big League

Join an organization for small publishers, such as Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN).

Sign up with a book distribution company such as Baker & Taylor. This will get your books into more stores and libraries.

Look for printing companies that will print small runs. Many can be found through SPAN.

Read books on marketing, such as "1001 Ways to Market Your Books" by John Kremer.

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  • If your name is registered, you can open a checking account under your business name.
  • Discuss incorporating your business with your accountant or attorney.
  • ISBNs are critical if you want to sell your books in a book store or through an online store.
  • Always hire a copyeditor and a proofreader to go through your books prior to printing.
  • Send all your books to the US Copyright Office for official copyrighting.


  • Don't name your business Bob's Publishing, it just doesn't have a professional edge.

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