How Much Does It Cost to Start a Publishing Company?

The days of writing a book and just hoping it will be published are quickly becoming a thing of the past. More and more authors are turning to DIY publishing to market their books in electronic form. Established authors also turn to ebooks to reprint copies of their backlist that are no longer in print.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

After you have formed a company, you will need editors and designers to help with each book. An experienced designer is usually paid anywhere from $100-to-$2,000 for an interior and cover design, and formatting the book for uploading to a specific platform can cost up to an additional $2,000 – these are average costs in 2018. On top of that you will need an ISBN and a marketing plan.

The great thing about starting a publishing company is that you don’t need an MBA or a pile of money to make your publishing dreams a reality. Registration costs are relatively low as are the fees you’ll pay to freelancers. There are just a few things you need to do to get started.

Beginning Your Company

Like with any other business venture, the first step to creating a successful publishing company is to draft a business plan. This roadmap to your business will outline your goals and show the exact steps you plan to take in order to achieve them. Attorneys, banks and other business partners will want to see you have a business plan in place before agreeing to work with you.

Starting a Publishing Company

When starting a publishing company, the first and possibly the only complicated step you’ll need to take is officially creating your company. You’ll need the help of a lawyer or an accountant to figure out what type of business setup is best for you – a sole proprietorship, a corporation or a partnership – and file the appropriate papers with your state. Once you have completed all the paperwork and paid the fees to register your business in your state, you’re ready to go into business. Fees typically run less than $100 in 2018 but can vary by state.

Hire Freelance Editors and Designers

Every writer needs an editor, and every book needs a designer and a proofreader. The most frequent complaint about DIY publishing is the number of grammatical and spelling errors. Ebook purchasers often complain that their downloaded books have broken links or don't load properly. Although you may feel competent to start a publishing company by yourself, you will need to bring along others with specific skills to help give your books a polished professional edge. If you have friends with editing, proofreading and production skills who are willing to give their time and energy to your project, ask for their help. If you don’t, there are many online resources where you can advertise for an editor, cover designer or other experienced professionals. Each book will be different but expect to pay anywhere from $250-to-$750 for expert editorial help in 2018.

Choose Good Publishing Software

One of the most time-consuming parts of electronic publishing is designing and formatting your books for specific platforms such as Kindle, Apple and Nook. Make sure you have the right type of publishing software to do the job without extra steps or unnecessary difficulties. If you’re not technically inclined, hire an ebook designer who can design covers and typeset the e-book before publication. Once the book has been designed, edited, formatted and proofread, it can be uploaded to a website or sent to an e-book seller. An experienced designer is usually paid anywhere from $100-to-$2,000 for an interior and cover design, and formatting the book for uploading to a specific platform can cost up to an additional $2,000 – these are average costs in 2018.

Get Your ISBN numbers

If you are planning to sell your books online, in bookstores or perhaps both, you’ll need to have an ISBN for each book. ISBN stands for The International Standard Book Number, the 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and related items published internationally.

There are more than 160 ISBN agencies worldwide, but only the United States ISBN agency is authorized to assign numbers to publishers with a U.S. address. In the U.S., publishers can buy ISBN numbers from RR Bowker or one of their authorized vendors.

Assigning an ISBN to each of your books makes the marketing and selling of your books by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributors more efficient. An ISBN will also list you as the book’s publisher in book industry databases. You can purchase a single ISBN or buy them in bundles of 1,000 or even 10,000. Bowker says it takes about five business days to process a publisher’s ISBN request. The cost can run upwards of $125 (in 2018) depending on the number of ISBNs purchased.

Market Your Book on Social Media

There are so many books for sale in the marketplace; you must develop a marketing and social media plan to tell the world about your book. You’ll need to build a website for your book that will provide a way to order and download the book, provide author bios and other information such as public readings, events and news. You can spend as much or as little as you want to develop your site or you can hire a designer and go all out.

Creating a presence on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will also let readers find out more about both the authors and their books. There are minimal costs involved if you manage the website and social media yourself but plan on allocating several thousand dollars per month if you hire a webmaster or social media manager.