There are many reasons why you might want to start a small publishing company.
If you have a passion for writing, books, and readers, it could be a business opportunity for you.
While traditional publishers naturally dominate, there are niche areas of the market where independent publishers can succeed.
The key to a successful publishing business is in selecting your niche.
Find your niche genre
A niche is a small portion of a market that is special or unique.
If you want to be a publisher, you will need to identify a specific area of the market where you think you can succeed.
You should choose one that you are familiar with because it will help you relate to readers and precisely understand what they want.
You should answer the following four questions when considering a niche.
1. How many books are published in your potential niche?
2. Is there enough demand for a new publishing company?
3. What can you do that is different to help you stand out from the rest?
4. What types of books are popular with the readers of this genre or sub-genre?
When you can answer these four questions, it will help you identify the feasibility of publishing in your preferred niche.
You might think about publishing medieval fantasy novels.
But because of the popularity of that genre, your small publishing house may have difficulty winning over new readers without the marketing power of more established publishers.
On the other hand, historical Viking romance might be too specific, so there may be no interest.
You have to think about market saturation and popularity and how you will be able to stand out in your niche.
Once you can identify your target market niche and the focus for your publishing company, you’re ready for the next step.
Legal and financial
Before you start a business, you need to get very good legal and financial advice.
Because these obligations differ from country to country, you should check with a local lawyer and accountant before you do anything else.
You will need to create a legal entity for your new business.
You will probably have the choice between setting up a new company or operating as a sole proprietorship.
You will also need to ensure that you can adequately finance your business start-up with either cash or personal assets.
Like most new small businesses, starting on a sound legal and financial footing is the best way to avoid problems down the line.
Your business plan
Are you going to be publishing books that you write, or do you want to publish other authors?
Writing and publishing your titles only is a relatively simple business model. As a publisher, it is a valid way to give more credibility to your titles and help to improve your social proof.
But if you are thinking about attracting and creating a stable of published authors, you will need to make sure that you can finance the production costs as well as pay authors for book sales.
You will also have to plan on purchasing ISBNs (International Standard Book Number) for all the titles that you publish.
Another consideration is whether you will publish in print books only or also in ebook format. Ebook publishing is quite easy.
But for print books, you need to decide how to produce your books. You can use print on demand, which is quite cheap. But offset printing is of much higher quality, but far more expensive.
At the same time, you should also plan your distribution channels. Do you want to use Amazon and other online retailers? Or do you want to have your books available in local bookstores?
As with any new business, a good business plan is always the best way to find your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.
There are many aspects to starting a new publishing business, so you need to do very careful research.
Develop your skills
If you are serious about starting a publishing company and making a profit, you have to be realistic about your financial capacity.
Unless you are fortunate enough to have a good line of credit or cash reserves, you’re probably not going to have a lot of money to spend in the early stages.
If you can break even, you will be dong well.
The best way to minimized your costs is by doing as much as you can yourself.
You could take a course in Photoshop and develop your skills in book cover design.
Learn how to use WordPress so you can take control of your website, online marketing, and social media management.
You should also make sure you understand basic intellectual property laws and how to complete ISBN registration.
If you can do some editing and proofreading, it will help you reduce your costs.
You can’t do everything, and you will need to pay for some services.
But the more you can do, the less money you will need to outlay.
There is so much information and knowledge at your fingertips today on the Internet.
All you need is the time and patience to learn the new skills you need that will save you money in the short and long term.
You can’t do everything
There will, of course, be some services that you will need to use a specialist.
Interior book formatting, for example, can be challenging for print books.
Book cover designers are not all that expensive, so you might want to outsource this task.
But if you need specific photography or graphic design, it can be costly.
Accurate line editing and copy editing are specialized skills. While you can do a lot yourself, hiring a competent editor might be a wise move to assure the quality of your manuscripts.
But whenever you consider paying for help in the early stages of your business, make sure it is cost-effective and professional.
When you have registered your publishing company, you need to get the word out. Your first steps will be to design a logo and then publish your website.
One of the most effective ways to gain attention is to write informative blog articles for your website. You can add a blog link to your main menu.
However, it would help if you had a little understanding of search engine optimization (SEO). This will enable Google and Bing to index your posts.
You can also use free press releases, social media campaigns, and email newsletters. Contact your local newspaper or book club to see if they might be interested in your new venture.
If you have literary festivals in your area, contact them to find out how you can participate.
Your debut title
Your publishing company is new, and nobody knows who you are.
How are you going to make readers notice you and your books?
Your first title needs to be exciting, unique, fresh, and answers your target market’s passion. It is the best way to make an impact.
It is also going to have to be a book that is relatively easy to produce but still a pleasure to read.
If you chose your niche market well, there could well be authors who are very keen to have their work published.
Make sure you have an excellent website for your publishing business.
Then you can add a call for submissions page. But make it clear what types of books you are interested in considering.
Novels can be relatively long and are more challenging to edit and proofread than shorter pieces.
It would be best if you tried to build up your publishing experience before accepting full-length novels.
You might want to consider novellas or short story collections in the early stages.
But what is inside a book isn’t all that matters when it comes to a successful book.
Publishing now is so dependent on social media and digital publishing.
The aesthetics, look and branding of your titles and your company are going to be the most powerful ways to promote your company’s identity.
Your choices of titles and cover design are as much a priority as the content.
It would be unrealistic to expect a healthy profit from your first book or even to sell a lot of copies.
Use your first title to establish your brand identity and presence in the market.
Like any new business, it will take you time to gain any momentum. The first year especially is always the most challenging.
But if you are determined and patient, you will find small successes along the way.