What is a publishing imprint?
A publishing imprint is the name of your publishing company. This name is:
- Displayed to the public wherever you sell your book.
- Recorded in book industry databases used by retailers, book wholesalers, and book distributors.
- Listed on your book’s copyright page, and often included in your book’s sales and promotional materials.
- The name assigned to your ISBN(s).
It can be an invented name or the name of one’s existing business, or some variation. New publishers can use their author name, but I think it is preferable to create a distinction between the author name and the publisher for public relations and brand-building reasons.
For example, if you use the free ISBN offered by Amazon when using KDP Print, Amazon is your publisher and their imprint name is “Independently Published.” When you pay for an ISBN, you get to choose a name (click here to read my article about choosing names).
In this article I won’t go into details about the pros, cons, and other considerations because there is too much detail. In fact, I’ve written a book on this topic.
This article is about why and how to create a publishing imprint logo.
Why create an imprint logo?
Once you buy ISBNs in the name of the imprint, it doesn’t take much more effort or expense to add a little style to the name you’ve chosen. It also adds a nice professional touch.
You can use your new publishing logo design:
- On the print book’s spine and/or the spine of the dust jacket
- The book’s back cover
- The book’s title page
- The copyright page
- Your book’s marketing materials
In addition, it’s a brand-building tool
Besides using the imprint logo on or in your book, you can use it in your marketing materials. You can match your existing brand or use this as an opportunity to establish your publishing brand’s visual theme via fonts, colors, and images. Examples of places to use it:
- Your website/blog
- Printed collateral such as business cards, bookmarks, sell sheets, book signing signage
- Social media: brand your Instagram posts or use it in headers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on
Tip: Don’t overthink it or overspend – you can change or update your logo later. The main thing at this stage is to be consistent in how you use it.
Creating your imprint logo
As with designing any logo, the key is to keep things simple. Complex illustrations, lots of text, and detailed design elements just don’t look good and are not legible when shrunk down to fit on the spine of a 150-page book, for example.
Also important at this stage is budget. It’s one thing if you have the resources to pursue a robust publishing strategy, or you are re-tooling an existing publishing catalog. It’s another thing if this is your first book. If the latter is the case, spend your money wisely.
Here are some simple ideas to get you thinking. Logos can be text, an image, or a combination.
- Use a fancy font or other font characteristic.
- Put the name inside a box or circle.
- Put the initials inside a box or circle.
- Ask your cover designer if he or she will help, perhaps for free.
- Use clipart instead of creating custom graphics.
- Adapt your existing logo, if you have one.
One last thing: your logo is an extension and branding device for the imprint, not necessarily you and probably not your book. You probably want to avoid images or styles that work for your current book but may not relate to future books.
Tools and programs to help you
There are all kinds of resources for all levels of budgets. Heading over to Google and typing in “logo creator” (with quotes) I found more than two million results, many of them using the word FREE.
I’m sure there are catches with many of them, but those aren’t the only options. What about these?
- If you’re design program-savvy, you can try Photoshop
- MS Word and Paint are easy and simple for design novices
- Canva and PicMonkey are free and they have templates and design ideas to pick from, not to mention lots of clipart (I used Canva to create the images in this post)
- If you like to work on your smartphone, there are collage and editing apps that you can use
- If you want to take it up a notch, hire a designer or buy a Fiverr gig for a few dollars
Once you invest the time and possibly money to create your logo, store the final files in a safe place. Create a folder on your computer called something like “imprint logo-final files” and never change these files. Create another folder called “imprint logo” and copy the logo here before resizing it or modifying it some way.
Trust me, you will be making changes to this file, or your designer will. Here are 5 ways or reasons why I’ve modified my original files:
- High resolution printing on books and other collateral (a high resolution image is usually too large to use on a website)
- Various sizes (I like to include the dimensions in my logo file names)
- Different file types such as jpeg, png, tiff, eps
- A black & white version if you have a color logo
- A version that is just the logo and not words, like some of the logo examples below
Inspiration: examples of AuthorImprint client logos
Our specialty is helping authors and businesses create their own imprint as part of the book publishing process, and that nearly always means creating a publishing imprint logo. Many clients do this themselves, or already have a logo we can use or adapt. In other cases, we create one for them.
As you see below, several are very simple and in fact didn’t require hours of effort, discussion or a dedicated budget to create.
As I said earlier, keep it simple and appropriate for your current circumstances. You can always change it later. The important thing is to own your publishing imprint name, and that means owning the ISBNs you use.
Header photo credit: Nick Fewing