How much does it cost to create a self-publishing imprint?
  • How much did it cost to create Somerspoint Press, a one-book self-publishing imprint?
  • The five more common self-publishing book imprint FAQs
How much does it cost to create a self-publishing imprint?

How much does it cost to create a self-publishing imprint?

The short answer: $85. You can buy a single ISBN from IngramSpark and use it to print your book with any printer, and distribute your book to any country in the world. You own it, you control it; you never have to worry about your publisher going out of business.

We recently completed a publishing project for Somerspoint Press, the self-publishing imprint name chosen by clients Jacki and Jan for their book about “a Medically Challenged Horse Who Found Fun, Friends and Fame.”

Actually, it is two books. The paperback carries this imprint name for ISBN 978-0692189412. The second edition is a hardcover and it uses Ingram's proprietary number instead of an ISBN. This edition cannot be sold in stores which is the point. Jacki and Jan can sell this direct to readers (and not be undercut by Amazon!).

Helping authors establish and control their publishing brand is our specialty. Understandably, a number of questions arise about how to do this, and why for that matter.

Here are 5 frequently asked question. Feel free to drop more questions in the comments.

Self-Publishing imprint FAQs

Why should I own one? Who cares!?

There are 3 primary considerations:

  1. Branding: the name of the publisher is of public record. The name must match the name used by the person or entity that bought the ISBN. For example, Jacki and Jan bought their ISBN using the name Somerspoint Press. Amazon buys their ISBNs for KDP Print using the imprint name of “Independently published”.
  2. You can use any printer. If you use a free ISBN like one available from KDP Print, the only printer you can use is Amazon (KDP Print replaced CreateSpace but the same rule applies for free CreateSpace ISBNs). Free ISBNs carry restrictions so read the fine print. (Amazon, like IngramSpark is an authorized reseller and they can also sell you an ISBN.)
  3. You can apply for a Library of Congress Control Number (US-issued ISBNs, only). Only publishers of record can get these numbers. Again, they are unavailable to authors that use free ISBNs because they are not the publisher of record.

Note: an ISBN is not required by most eBook retailers.

Do I need to establish a company, or file for a “doing business as” (D/B/A) name to buy or use an ISBN?

No, it is optional. However, if you want to accept payment in the name of your self-publishing imprint you may need to file a D/B/A.

Do I need to open a bank account?

No, see the above answer. Companies like Amazon, Apple and IngramSpark just need a bank account to pay you your royalties. This can be your personal banking account, or one established in the name of your self-publishing imprint.

What if I need more than one ISBN?

Visit Bowker's website and buy 10 (or 100). Every country has a single source for ISBNs and the in the US that is Bowker. Click here to look up agencies for other countries.

Why buy from IngramSpark? Why not Bowker, MyIdentifiers, Amazon, or some other company?

A single ISBN costs $85 from IngramSpark, $99 from Amazon, and $125 when bought from Bowker. There are just a few authorized resellers so you might find one for less, but these two firms are the largest. As noted above, buy direct from Bowker if you need more than 1.

Be the master of your domain

There are thousands of self-publishing imprints. In fact, we saw an interesting marketing statement the other day by one of the vanity presses. It said, “iUniverse, an Author Solutions, LLC, self-publishing imprint, is the leading…”

Note they call themselves a self-publishing imprint. You can do exactly the same thing for the cost of a nice dinner.

What will you call your imprint!? (Check out this article if you need to research a name.)

16 thoughts on “How much does it cost to create a self-publishing imprint?”

  1. Stacy k stewart

    How do you publish an e-book under your own imprint without buying an ISBN for it?

  2. Just pick a name for an imprint and list that as the publisher. However, I think you are wondering how to make all the online databases and stores that show a publisher name, show your publisher name. And that’s up to each place where you list your ebook for sale. All the ebook aggregators require an ISBN. I believe Amazon will ignore the name you enter as publisher if you don’t use an ISBN.

  3. Bowkers will sell one ISBN for $125, and 10 for $295. I only intend to publish one book, in one format. But apparently the “publisher” owns the ISBN, so if I establish an imprint — “Clueless Book Publishing”, for example — and buy 10, it appears to me that I can then offer the other 9 ISBNs to my children, inviting them to write their own books, and publish under my imprint. Do you see any problem with this? (Bowker’s is very clear that if you buy more than one ISBN from them, “The block of ISBNs cannot be divided up among family members.” Maybe this is a way around that?) Thanks for your advice.

  4. I have never heard of Bowker policing what you describe. You are the “publisher” in this case and you and the kids are all authors. Good luck, Hy.

  5. Hi David,
    Thanks for this article! It’s very helpful.
    I have a question to which I haven’t been able to find the answer, and I hope you can help. I have a translation company (registered in Florida) and I just published a short grammar guide (ebook) on Amazon with my translation company as the publisher. My name does not appear anywhere.
    In the near future I would like to publish a book which is not related to languages, so I don’t want my translation company to appear as the publisher; instead, I would like to create an imprint.
    I see that Bowker now lets you enter the name of your imprint, and I suppose I can use that imprint name as the publisher on Amazon.
    The question is: will Amazon use that imprint name to send me payments? And if yes, does that imprint name need to have its own EIN?
    Ideally, I would like the imprint to belong to my translation company, I mean I want to put the translation company as the “parent” because it already has an EIN, it is a registered business in Florida, I pay business taxes for that company, etc. I don’t want to create another company and go through the same process, get a new EIN, pay separate business taxes, etc.

    So can I create an imprint under the translation company, have that imprint appear as publisher, and have payments go to the translation company?

    Thank you for any tips you can offer.

  6. Maria, the name used for the imprint when you list your book has nothing to do with the banking info. So the answer to your question is yes. See my book My Publishing Imprint for other details. Good luck.

  7. Hello David,
    Your really helpful and informative articles, made me realise that I should have my own imprint. Now having thought of a name which seems original, I guess having the .com and, as I’m in the Uk, addresses for them would be a good idea? Then the problem is, which hosting service to use as they offer different services. Would a basic ,no frills one be sufficient?
    Very grateful for any advice.

  8. Hello John: owning the domain name is secondary, and nice, but not required. And if you own the domain name, you certain don’t have to have a website for it. Just point it at your author website for now.

  9. If I want to self-publish/distribute a paperback on both Ingramspark and Amazon independently, do I need a separate ISBN for each? Or will 1 ISBN do, since its the same title?

  10. If it is an ISBN that you own, and the dimensions are the same, you can use the same ISBN.

  11. Christopher Persaud

    Hi David,

    My objective is to create a self-publishing imprint. Do I have to register the imprint? If I do not have to do so, and I use my imprint as the publisher of a book on say, Amazon KDP, how do I go about collecting payments for the sale of my book? Can I have a self-publishing imprint and not set up an IRS EIN, obtain a business license, or set up a bank account?

    Christopher Persaud

  12. Hi David. Thank you for your articles. I created a publisher name or imprint many years ago without trademarking the term. Someone trademarked my name a year ago and in due process killed off my books. Do you have any tips and advice as to whether I may publish my own content elsewhere (excluding the previous Tm’ed publisher name/imprint) or what I can do to avoid people from doing the same thing if I start over?

    In my country trademarks for publisher names or pseudonyms only apply to my own country as far as I know. It will be expensive and very hard to TM anything outside of my country. So I’m considering using a publisher name that no one would want to steal, or by excluding it altogether.

    Any tips or help on this matter will be appreciated.

  13. Hi Stan, I know these situations can be heartbreaking so sorry to hear about it. Did you check with an attorney about potential recourse? I know in the US that prior use counts for something. Since I’m not an attorney, I’d call a couple attorneys that have TM experience. In my experience, they are generally willing to share their thoughts without charging (taking action is another matter, of course). I suggest a couple b/c you might get a different answer. And if you haven’t already thought of this, and if relevant, TMs (in the US) are for specific categories of products so perhaps that’s relevant here.

  14. Random Commenter

    This question was probably already asked, but I’m still unclear on it…do I have to set up a business in order to have my imprint? I plan on publishing multiple books, and I just want to have a nice logo to go on the spine of my books and a cool name to go in the metadata, but I don’t think I’ll be able to set up a whole business for it. But, if I don’t, will someone yell at me for doing business as a press that doesn’t exist?

    -Random Commenter

  15. A formal business filing is not required to use the name. Only if you wish to do business as that name, like get a bank account.

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