In self-publishing, what is an "imprint"?
An "imprint" is a name used by an author or publisher to identify and brand the content they are publishing. It can be used to tell the difference between books by the same company (or person) that have different authors, works, series, or types. Imprints also help readers easily recognize books from particular authors or publishers. For example, Penguin Random House has imprints like Ballantine Books and Crown for books for adults. Similarly, Scholastic Press has separate imprints for trade titles, such as Arthur A. Levine Books and Orchard Books. By using these branded imprints, readers can more easily identify which books come from which publisher or author, even if they aren't familiar with them directly. That way, they know what kind of content to expect when they pick up a book with that imprint.
Self-published authors can also use an imprint to build their brand and make the publishing process go more smoothly. By creating their own branded imprint, self-published authors can make it easier for readers to find and recognize their work in the marketplace. It also helps them maintain a consistent look and feel across all of their books, making it easier for readers to identify which books are theirs, even if they don't know who wrote them or where they were published. An author's imprint can become as recognizable as any big publisher's and can be used not just on books but other promotional materials like websites, business cards, posters, etc. In this way, having an established imprint can be a great way to build a strong personal brand and increase name recognition in the industry.
Overall, an imprint is an important tool for both traditional and self-publishing authors looking to establish themselves in the publishing world. It allows them to distinguish their work from others, create a recognizable brand, and make it easier for readers to find and recognize their content. Imprints are also an invaluable asset when it comes time to promote books, helping authors easily get the word out about their work and build a loyal following of readers.
Do I have to incorporate or set up an LLC and open bank accounts for my imprint?
No, you do not have to incorporate or open bank accounts for your imprint. One could create a business entity such as an LLC or corporation in order to protect yourself from liability related to the publishing activities of your imprint, but the liability publishers face in extremely small, and the guarantees of the first amendment to the constitution make risk even less likely. Ultimately though, the decision on whether or not to set up these accounts will depend on the scope of your publishing activities and how organized you need to be with them.
I am neither a lawyer nor a tax expert, I am a writer who writes books, so you are advised to seek your own answers from other experts as needed, but my general advice is this: Your biggest problem right now is not structural business, or legal issues. Your biggest problem right now is finishing your book and getting it published! And, of course, if you sell no books, there can be no risk. So, your problem is writing and selling books. Tax and business problems are good things; you are doing what many others do not, and that is selling books! But the good news is that you can take the revenue earned and change your structures, where royalties are paid, and solve any other issues as they come along and as you increase your success. So, create your imprint name when you set up your Bowker at MyIdentifiers.com and start publishing, let the chips fall where they may, and solve the business and tax problems (hopefully you will sell enough to have business and tax problems) as they come!
An imprint is not a company. It is your brand. You can use an imprint to reflect your brand, create a unified look and feel, and help readers identify which books are yours. An imprint helps you stand out in the publishing world and has many advantages for traditional and self-published authors. Depending on the scope of your success, it may be beneficial to set up further legal entities if needed, but that is not something you need to do before you publish. Ultimately, though, the decision will depend on your individual needs and circumstances.
It's important to remember that no matter what path you choose when it comes to setting up an imprint or other business structures, the most important thing is getting your book finished and out into the world!
When selecting an imprint name, you might consider a couple of things. First, you might want to see if a domain name matching your imprint name is available. Search for domain names at GoDaddy.com, see if it is available, and buy them. Second, you might also look at TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System) at https://tmsearch.uspto.gov and see if there are any related trademarks on that name. Finally, you should also Google the name you plan to use, to see if others are using it in a way that might confuse your readers.
Where are book royalties paid if I self-publish a book?
The royalties are usually paid directly to the author or publisher if you self-publish a book. Depending on how you set up your publishing, you can either get paid directly by stores like Amazon or Barnes & Noble or use a distributor like IngramSpark, which will collect and send payments on your behalf. My advice for new authors is to pay them into your personal bank account, and if you are successful enough to need to consider tax implications, do so with the advice of a tax professional. No business problem cannot be solved later, and instead of wasting time and money now to solve a problem that does not exist, use the money you make to solve the problems as they come. Far too many people never finish a book because they are derailed trying to ensure they get the logistics correct or run out of money solving non-existent problems before they even sell one copy of their book. So, write and publish your book first!
One final note:
When you set up your imprint at MyIdentifiers.com you must remember it. When you upload your book to KDP or IngramSpark, it will ask for your imprint name, which must match exactly. This means the capitalization, punctuation, spacing, or whatever you put in MyIdentifiers.com must be identical to what you tell Amazon or Ingram, or your book will be rejected.