The Three W’s of Creating Your Own Publishing Imprint

Hello, friends! I’m so excited to be able to share with you something that’s been in the works in my household for the past several months–my husband (also a writer) and I have decided to launch our own publishing imprint, Goldenwood Press, LLC. Today I want to walk you through the whys and hows of creating your own imprint for self-publishing.

If you want to skip all of that stuff and just learn more about Goldenwood Press, you can find our website here. But if you’re thinking about self-publishing using an imprint of your own, do read on!

What is a publishing imprint?

Essentially, a publishing imprint is the publisher’s name that will appear on your books. If you publish traditionally, it’s going to be somebody like Penguin or Scholastic or Tor, or one of their smaller divisions.

When you self-publish, the publisher could be listed as your name, the platform you’re using (ie. CreateSpace), or the imprint that you pick. Your imprint acts as a small, independent press publishing your work. 

Your imprint could exist only as a name and logo, or you could turn it into a full business–either a royalty small press or services offered to other self-publishers. The sky’s the limit for the author-entrepreneur!

Why do I need an imprint?

The easy answer is, you don’t. It’s perfectly fine to use your own name or even to use CreateSpace as the publisher. But, if you want your book(s) to have a more traditional look or you hope to help other authors publish one day, it’s a good idea to create your own imprint. It may also help you and others take your writing career more seriously as an independent author.

In our case, my husband was ready to self-publish his first book (more on that in my next post), and I’m considering taking my romance books that direction. So it made sense for us to create an imprint we could both use.

As a side note, if you don’t buy your own ISBN and instead use the free one provided by CreateSpace, then CreateSpace will automatically be listed as the publisher. If you want to use your own name or your own imprint, you’ll need to buy an ISBN.

How do I set up my own imprint?

(Yes, I cheated on this question, but at least there’s a “w” in “how.”) Now for the caveat: While I am a law-abiding citizen, I’m not a lawyer. Don’t take my experience or information as legal advice.

Creating your own small press is surprisingly easy. The first, and perhaps most difficult task is choosing a name. You want to pick something that has a nice sound to it, captures the feel of your writing, and most importantly, hasn’t been taken by anybody else.

How can you tell if the name you want is available? Google! (Where would we be without the Internet??) You can find out in seconds if/ where your name is being used. In our case, our first three or four choices were already taken in some form. We knew we wanted to create a website for our press, so we had to pick something with an available web address.

We also decided we wanted to set our press up as an LLC, or limited-liability company.  The process is pretty simple here in Michigan. First, we needed to search for our prospective name to verify nobody else had claimed it. Then we filled out an online application form, remitted a small fee, and waited for confirmation. Just like that, Goldenwood Press became a registered LLC.

Goldenwood_tree_GWP_smOnce our imprint was official, it was time to create a website and logo. I left the logo work to my husband, who enjoys playing around with Photoshop and images. (Not so much my cup of tea.) Since I already had this website up and running, I bought our domain name and used WordPress to create a site for Goldenwood Press.

The next step was to buy our own ISBNs from Bowker as we prepared to publish my husband’s book, Alabaster Dangermond and the Serpent’s Blade. We needed a separate ISBN for the ebook and for the print book, and we plan on using more in the future, so we purchased one of the ISBN packages.

Finally, when it came time to design the cover for my husband’s book, we made sure to include our new logo on the spine. Goldenwood Press was listed as the publisher in the book’s front matter and also with Ingram Spark and CreateSpace, the two printing/ distribution companies we’re using.

Of course, there’s more to operating as a business than I’ve discussed here (or even figured out yet!), especially when it comes to handling income and sales taxes. If you decide to set up your own LLC, remember that it will take some homework to manage it correctly. The Small Business Administration provides plenty of helpful information to get you started.

Leaving Room to Grow

We’re not sure yet what the future holds for Goldenwood Press. We plan on starting with our own books first, but eventually we’d like to help other indie authors get their work out into the world. I don’t see us moving into a royalty publishing model, both because of the capital required and because we’d like to support indie authors. Indie authors are able to keep their rights and all of their earnings.

Instead, I see Goldenwood Press as possibly offering services to authors in the future–anything from editing to formatting to assisting with cover design. We’re in the process of building a team of professionals we can use for freelance work. While some services will be available in-house, others will be outsourced to find the most qualified individuals.

For now, though, we’re just excited that the changing nature of the world of publishing has given us the opportunity to create our own imprint. In the past, printing your own book would have required a huge, expensive print run. But now, thanks to print-on-demand companies like CreateSpace and Ingram Spark, we can jump right into the world of small presses.

Questions or comments? Feel free to share! Until next time, enjoy the journey!


Header image credit:, CC0 license.




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