How to Publish With Your Own Imprint

17 Mar

by Nicole Eva Fraser

I love my traditional publisher, Second Wind Publishing LLC in North Carolina. Second Wind released my first novel (The Hardest Thing in This World) in October 2013.  So why did I decide to self-publish my second novel and a nonfiction e-Book in 2014?  Simply because I wanted to learn the DIY side of the business, and take charge of getting my books to market at a faster pace.


To publish with my own imprint (= publishing business), I followed the basic steps below, which you can adapt for the state / province where you live and the self-publishing service company you work with.

First, the definition of “imprint”
An imprint is a publisher name. Your own imprint is simply the publisher name you choose, clear, and register according to your state business laws to use in self-publishing your own books. 

File your imprint name in your state
I live in Ohio, so once I settled on my imprint name—Bench Press—I had to check its availability in Ohio and register it as a trade name. The steps should be similar in your state.

  • I went to the Ohio Secretary of State website.
  • Went to Business Services page.
  • Reviewed their Guide to Business Name Availability.
  • Did a Business Search by Name and by Exact Name.
  • Bench Press didn’t come up in the searches, so I filed the Ohio “Trade Name (Name Registration)” form and paid the $50 fee to register the name.
  • I was granted the Trade Name Registration for Bench Press.
  • The registration must be renewed every five years.

How does your self-publishing company handle author imprints?
Considering to use the POD services and retail arms of Amazon and Smashwords, I researched all their policies. You will need to research the policies of the company you will working with well before you are preparing to publish.  Here’s what I found in my research in February 2014:

Amazon CreateSpace (paperback): 

  • Yes, you may publish with your own imprint, but must buy your own ISBN to do so (more on ISBNs in a minute).

Amazon KDP (Kindle): 

  • Yes, you may publish with your own imprint and are not required to buy your own ISBN.


  • Yes, you may publish with your own imprint and are not required to buy your own ISBN. However, if you elect to get the free ISBN from Smashwords, be aware that: 

1.     Smashwords will be listed as the publisher in the Bowker Books in Print database; and

2.     Your imprint will be listed as the publisher in your e-Book.


ISBNs: to buy or not to buy?

I did decide to buy an ISBN for the paperback of my novel I Don’t Think It’s That Simple because I want Bench Press (not CreateSpace) to appear as the imprint in the paperback.

I decided not to buy ISBNs for GPS for New Novelists because I’m releasing it only as an e-Book, and I’m satisfied with the Smashwords arrangements regarding their free ISBNs.

To learn more about purchasing ISBNs, visit Bowker Identifier Services.


More opportunities to consider

  • You could choose and buy the domain name of your imprint and create an additional website for your book(s), with all the corresponding exposure and marketing opportunities.
  • You could incorporate under your imprint name. Incorporation is a complex legal process and you will need a lawyer.
  • You could invite other authors to publish under your imprint and build a collective. Consult a lawyer before you do.

Publishing with your own imprint requires you to do your due diligence upfront.  Be sure to allow enough time in your pre-production schedule for the research and the decision-making that are involved.

About the Author
Nicole Eva Fraser is the author of I Don’t Think It’s That Simple, forthcoming in Summer 2014, The Hardest Thing in This World (2013), and GPS for New Novelists: Navigating the 5 routes to publication (2014).




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5 responses to “How to Publish With Your Own Imprint

  1. jackie

    March 17, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. gvsteitz

    March 18, 2014 at 3:36 am

    Reblogged this on Books by G.V. Steitz and commented:
    Great information! Thanks Larry Grodecki for passing along this valuable blog by Bench Press andSavvybookwriters

  3. M. Zane McClellan

    March 18, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Great information. Thank you so much. ~ Michael

  4. Harliqueen

    March 18, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Interesting post, something to think of 🙂

  5. Tyler Hayes-Williams

    March 19, 2014 at 2:13 am

    Thanks for the informative post. This one made me think of a number of things. I guess filing the imprint is the same as trade mark registration for any business. Isn’t it so?


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