Are you interested in starting a publishing business for books and magazines? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a publishing company online with little money and no experience. There are loads businesses which an entrepreneur who is looking towards starting a business can successfully choose from and start to make huge success from. One of such business is to start a publishing company; the publishing industry over time has been evolving to in order to meet the changing trends in our world.

What is a Publishing Business?

From a general perspective, publishing is all about the production and distribution of information through books (literature), music, or information to the general public. As a matter of fact, there is hardly any organization that survives in this dispensation without engaging the services of publishing companies.

Aside from magazine publishers, newspaper publishers, books publishers and music publishers, corporate organizations also engage the services of publishing companies to help them handle most of their publications. Marketing / promotional communications materials and perhaps other corporate documents are usually contracted to publishing companies to handle.

What Does It Take to Start a Publishing Business?

Setting up a publishing company might be demanding but one thing is certain; it is quite straightforward and at the same time very rewarding. For example; a publishing house can be located in the united states of America and still handle publishing contracts in other parts of the world.

This goes to show that as a publisher, if you want to maximize the business, you should not just restrict your business / marketing to the country where you are domicile but the international market. The truth is that if you are a known brand in the publishing industry, people and organization will come from different parts of the world to do business with you.

Just like every other business there might be challenges here and there and also competition in the industry, but if you are determined and dedicated towards growing and expanding the business, chances are that you will achieve your aim. So, if you are thinking of building a successfully publishing company, you must be deliberate, determined and dedicated towards building the business to your set goal.

24 Steps to Starting a Publishing Company Online for Books

1. Understand the Industry

Going down memory lane, it will be safe to categorically state that the publishing industry has experienced technological changes over the years; the trends keep changing with the advent of new technology and it take creativity on the part of a publishing company to continue to compete in the industry.

Interesting Statistics About the Industry

Talking about changes in the publishing industry; before now, there was nothing like e – books, but in recent time e – books and audio books has become so popular and even selling more than hard copies in some quarters. People find it easier and convenient to read e – books or listen to audio books as against reading hardcopy books.

Companies such as Amazon, Sony and Google are leveraging on the changing tides in the publishing industry by helping authors and publishers to convert their hardcopy books to digital formats. Little wonder Amazon’s Kindle is regarded as one of the leading brands in the digital – publishing market. As a matter of fact, there are well equipped and world – class e – libraries scattered all across the world due to the fact that the market for digital books is increasing year in year out.

Statistics has it that publishing companies such as Penguin Random House, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Macmillan are responsible for publishing and approximate of about 60 percent of English-language books; little wonder they are referred to as the “Big Five” publishing brands. Statistics also has it that about 75 percent of single title books that are published do not break even and

No doubt, it is a known fact that the print industry is currently experiencing some challenges; investment in magazines is experiencing a sharp decline. It is on record that there is a steady decline in total numbers of magazines that are sold in the United States daily. For instance, statistics has it that in 1985, there were about 1,676 dailies in the United States but in 2011, the number dropped to 1,382 and of course it is still dropping.

If you are keeping tab with the publishing industry, you will realize that print on demand is fast becoming a very good alternative to conventional publishing. This is part of the creativity that is helping publishing houses cut cost and maximize profits as well.

How Does the Printing Business Work?

In the publishing industry, it is a common practice for authors sourcing for a publisher to publish their books agree to a contract that will see them getting as low as 10 percent profit from the project. In such publishing contract where the publisher takes about 90 percent of the proceeds from the contract, it is the responsibility of the publishing house to handle and bear the total cost of the publication of the book from start to finish. That is from the printing press through promotion, distribution and marketing et al.

Despite the fact that the publishing industry appears to be saturated in the United States, there is still a positive outlook for the industry especially when it comes to leveraging on the changing trends in technology. People are encouraged to go into publishing business because of the vast opportunities that are available in the industry and also because the industry is indeed a thriving and profitable one especially when it is well positioned and promoted.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition for the publishing industry cut across every company, organization and individual irrespective of their age, religion, race and political affiliation who have cause to publish any material (literature and music et al).

For example; an eight years old kid may decide to author a book with the aid of a publishing house since there are no law stopping under age from doing business with a publishing company. This goes to show that the market for publishing companies is wide and far reaching; there is no restriction to the groups or people or organizations that they can do business with.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

Although there is a wide range of niches in the publishing industry; but that does not stop a publishing company from combining all the niches in the industry, as a company can successfully handle all forms of publishing. So also, if you are interested in starting a publishing company, you may decide to carve a niche for yourself. Whatever niche you choose to go into, just ensure that you have done your market research and survey and you are certain that you will be able to generate enough business deals from it.

Here are some of the niches you can specialize in if you want to start a publishing business;

  • Newspaper publishing
  • Periodical publishing
  • Book publishing
  • Directory publishing
  • Academic publishing
  • Tie-in publishing
  • Independent publishing alternatives
The Level of Competition in the Industry

Beyond every reasonable doubt, the competition in the publishing industry is on the high side, but one thing is certain, if you are able to set a standard in the industry, you are sure going to get committed and faithful clients who would not mind to sign long time contracts with you. If you are good enough and well – connected you can secure mouthwatering contract from larger corporations and even the government.

Despite the competition in the publishing industry, if you are creative and able to carve unique niche or better, faster and efficient ways of publishing, you are sure going to experience less competitions.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

When it comes to publishing, you can be rest assured that there are world class publishing companies scattered all across the world; publishing companies that can favorably compete for publishing contracts in any part of the world. Here are some of the well – known publishing companies in the United States of America and in the world;

  • Pearson PLC – uk
  • The Woodbridge Company Ltd. – Canada
  • RELX Group (Reed Elsevier PLC & Reed Elsevier NV) – UK/NL/US
  • Penguin Random House
  • Phoenix Publishing and Media Company
  • Hachette Livre Lagardere – France
  • McGraw-Hill Education (Apollo Global Management LLC)
  • Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck – Germany
  • Grupo Planeta – Spain
  • Apax and Omers Capital Partners – US/Canada
  • China Publishing Group Corporation – China
  • Harper Collins News Corp – US
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company – US/Cayman Islands
  • De Agostini Editore Gripe De Agostini             Italy
  • Oxford University Press – UK
  • Media EQT and GIC Investors – Sweden,
  • Informa plc – UK
  • Shueisha Hitotsubashi Group – Japan
  • Kodansha Ltd. – Japan
Economic Analysis

If you are looking towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.

For example; in the publishing industry, it is no longer profitable to pile loads of printed books whilst sourcing for buyers, in the bid to cutting cost and maximizing profits, publishing companies now adopt the printing on demand (POD) strategy. With this strategy, the books can only be printed base on orders from customers. It is obvious that this practice ensures low costs for storage of books and also it cuts the possibility of printing more books than required per time.

Over and above, if you are considering starting a publishing company, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of setting up the business and securing publishing contracts but also on how to build a robust distribution network. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust distribution network, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

Unfortunately, you can hardly find a franchise of a publishing company to purchase meaning that if you want to own a publishing business, then you must be ready to start from the scratch.

The truth is that it will pay you to start your publishing company from the scratch. Starting from the scratch will afford you the opportunity to conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies before choosing a niche to major on. For example, after conducting your market survey and feasibility studies and you realize that the market for digital publication is large and profitable; you might decide to major on digital publishing.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

Just like any other business, some of the threats and challenges that you are going to face are the presence of a well – known publishing brand within same location where you have yours, economic downturn, unfavorable government policies and to some extent technology advancement especially if you don’t know how to leverage on new technology to take your business to the next level.

Another threat and challenge that you are likely going to be confronted with if you start a publishing company is to be able to effectively find a cheaper distribution options. Most publishing houses spend more when it comes to transporting their books, newspapers and magazines to different newsstands and bookstands that are scattered within the locations they intend selling their books, newspapers and magazines.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

When considering starting a publishing company, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow; some publishing companies operates regionally, some operates nationally while others are operates internationally.

No doubt choosing a legal entity for a business such as a publishing company can be somewhat straightforward going by the nature of the business they are involved in. When it comes to choosing a legal entity for your publishing business you have the option of choosing from a general partnership, a limited partnership, an LLC, a “C” corporation, or a “S” corporation.

It is important to clearly state that these different forms of legal structure for business has its own advantages and disadvantages; which is why you must weigh your options properly before making your choice on the legal structure to build your business on. These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your publishing company; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and tax issues.

If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for this type of business, then you will agree that Limited Liability Company; an LLC is perhaps the most suitable. You can start your publishing company as limited liability company (LLC) and in future you can convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or a ‘S’ corporations especially when you have the plans of going public.

Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your publishing business so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company; you will enjoy flexibility in ownership and in your management structures as well.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

  • WoW Impression Publishing House, Inc
  • Carson and Crayon Publishers, LLC
  • Prime Press Limited
  • Anderson Group, LLC
  • Century Publishing Company
  • Bridgestone and Banes Ltd.
  • Spot On Publishing House, Inc.
  • Classic Publishing Company
  • The Scroll Company

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that is required by the industry you want to operate from. Besides, the nature of the publishing industry requires that you have the proper insurance cover in place or else you will be forced out of business if you are sued for libel or plagiarism et al. So it is important to create a budget for insurance cover and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best insurance policies for your publishing business.

Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own a publishing company in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers Compensation
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If at all there are any business that requires intellectual property protection (copyright ©), then publishing business should be one of them. The truth is that most of your articles, stories, write – ups and pictures will need to be protected if you don’t want it to be used for commercial purpose by your competitors or other people.

Basically, if your magazines, books, music, and newspapers et al are not protected by the law, then a printer can successfully print and sell your publications with little or no stress. Pirates will make money of your business easily.

If you want to protect your intellectual property or secure a trademark for your publishing company, you can visit The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to fill a patent application form. The process is not in any way cumbersome. You are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Basically, you might not necessarily need a professional certification before you can successfully start and run a publishing company in the United States of America, but it will be to your advantage to pursue any relevant journalism certification. There are several journalism certifications that can you obtain in the United States and one of such is Certificate in Journalism.

You can also pursue certification / diploma or even degree in printing and publishing. It will expose you to the in and out of publishing and that of course might give you some competitive edge.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

These are some of the basic legal document that you are expected to have in place if you want to start a publishing company in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Non – disclosure Agreement
  • Online Terms of Use
  • Online Privacy Policy Document
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Contract Document

13. Write a Business Plan

Starting a publishing business especially if you have plans of going international or working for clients all over the globe requires a detailed business plan. There are loads of major players in the industry and for you to be able to compete favorably with them; you should be able to come up with good and workable business plan.

A Business plan is the blue print of your business; it is a business document that can aid you to successfully set up a business and also administer / manage the business effectively. It is not enough to just write a business plan for the sake of writing one, your business plan should be able to pass reality check; you must put relevant facts, figures and statistics into consideration when writing your business plan.

The truth is that, the main aim of writing a business plan is not just for the sake of having a business document in place; but to have a detail guide on how to effectively set – up, run and manage your business. Your business plan should outline and cover strategies on how you intend to operate your publishing business.

When writing your business plan, ensure that you are moderate when it comes to setting projections on income generation et al. It is better to be on the safer side which is why when you are calculating your future income you should make use of the lower range figures as against the upper range.

These are some key factors that you should also consider when drafting a business plan for your publishing company;

Executive summary and Company’s descriptions

You are expected to write about the concept of your business – the niche of publishing you want to major in, descriptions of your company, your company’s vision statement, and mission statement, where your company will be located, your management team, your mode of distribution and perhaps why people should patronize your services amongst other key factors.

Other key components that should not be missing in your publishing company business plan are your service offering (adverts rates, subscription rates et al), SWOT analysis, marketing and sales analysis / strategies, pricing, costing and financial projection, management techniques, expansion strategies, publicity and advertising strategy, budget and start – up capital generation et al.

14. Prepare a Detailed Cost Analysis

If you are considering starting a publishing company, then you should look towards raising capital to cover both the production and distribution of your products (magazines, books, music and newspapers et al). The truth is that it could cost several thousands of dollars to set – up a small scale publishing house in the United States of America. Small scale publishing company could be limited to a city or a region.

When it comes to starting a small scale publishing company, the following expenditure should guide you;

  • The Total Fee for incorporating the Business in the U.S – $750.
  • The budget for basic insurance policy covers , permits and license – $3,500
  • The Amount needed to acquire a suitable Office facility in a business district 6 months (Re – Construction of the facility inclusive) – $40,000
  • The cost for setting up a printing press – $15,000
  • The Cost for equipping the office (computers, printers, fax machines, furniture, telephones, filing cabins, safety gadgets and electronics et al) – $2,000
  • The Cost of Launching your official Website – $600
  • Budget for paying at least 10 full – time employees for 3 months and utility bills – $90,000
  • Additional Expenditure (Business cards, Signage, Adverts and Promotions et al) – $2,500
  • The cost of printing the first set of your magazines / books – $5,000
  • The cost for distributing and marketing the magazines / books – $2,000
  • Miscellaneous: $2,000

Going by the report from the market research and feasibility studies, you will need about $150,000 to set up a small scale publishing business in the United States of America

You will need well over five hundred thousand U.S. dollars to successfully set – up a medium scale publishing company in the United States (you should be able to set – up a standard printing press with this amount)

If you are considering starting a large scale international publishing company with standard printing press and a wide range of distribution network, then you should look towards budgeting from two million United States dollars and above.

15. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first thing and perhaps the major factors that you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan in place, you may not have to labor yourself too hard before convincing your bank, investors or your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for start – up capital for your publishing business;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for Loan from your Bank / banks
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.

16. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

When it comes to choosing a location for your publishing business, you should be guided by the ease of distributing your jobs (magazines, newspapers, books and other literature or music as the case may be). Of course if you are able to secure a central location for your publishing house, it will enable you cut the cost of transporting your jobs (magazines, newspapers, books and other literature or music as the case may be) from the printing press to the various newsstands, books stands and pick up points.

Most importantly, before choosing a location for your publishing company, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across a publishing house that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out. This is why it is very important to gather as much facts and figures before choosing a location to set – up your used publishing house.

These are some of the factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your publishing company;

  • The demography of the location
  • The purchasing power of the residence of the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The numbers of publishing house in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community / state
  • Traffic, parking and security et al

17. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

In setting up a publication company, it means that you will establish a standard printing press with standard printing machines, binders, cutting machines et al. If you don’t have enough cash, you can start with fairly used printing machines but if you are financially buoyant, then you should go for brand new heavy duty printing machines.

Other technicality that you should be concern about when setting up a publishing company is relevant software applications; with the appropriate publication software, you can be able to prevent plagiarism et al.

When it comes to hiring employees, you should make plans to hire a competent editor, proofreaders, office administrator, accountant, content writers / journalists, photographers, graphic artists, printing machine operators, and dispatch riders. These are some of the key employees that you can work with. On the average, you will need a minimum of 10 key staff members to run a publishing business.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

Basically, publishing consist of the following stages of production: acquisition, copy editing, production, printing (and its electronic equivalents), and marketing and distribution of the literatures et al.

Firstly, what you need to do to get the process of publishing business started is to choose a niche that you are comfortable with and one that you are sure you can get enough market for; you can as well embrace all the niches in the publishing industry if you have the capacity to.

Once you are able to secure a publishing contract, then the first thing to do is the pre – production process, after the pre – production process, you move on to the editorial stage, and then the design stage. After the design stage, the publisher can kick start the sales and marketing stage. This will enable them secure willing buyers and sale of advertorial spaces long before the work comes out.

The final stages in the publishing industry, includes printing, binding and of course distribution. It is important to state that the publishing process cannot be said to be complete without distribution.

18. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

One of the major sources of income for publishing companies is money generated from adverts. The truth is that for you to attract adverts from high paying clients, you would have to prove that your magazine, newspapers et al has huge readership; your marketing ideas and strategies as a new publishing company must be worth it.

Generally, running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to run a publishing business, you must go all out to employ strategies that will help you attract customers (authors, and corporate organizations et al) or else you will likely struggle with the business.

These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your publishing business;

  • Direct Marketing
  • Sponsor TV and Radio Programs
  • Erect your Billboards in Strategic locations around the city
  • Making use of sales Agents and sales reps
  • Online Marketing (via your official website / online store, social media platforms and blog et al)
  • Referral Marketing
  • List your publishing company in local directory / yellow pages

19. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products

The factors that will help you get the right pricing for publishing business is to adopt the print on demand (POD) approach, channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting digital publishing (e – books and audio books). Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, and get the right pricing for your business, it will also help prevent global warming. This is so because the more people get used to e – books and audio books, the less hardcopy books that will be printed and of course the less trees that will be cut down.

So also, if you are able to secure pretty high volume printing jobs, you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits. One good thing about printing job is that the more copies you print, the lesser the cost of printing. Your headache would now be how to sell and distribute all the copies that was printed.

20. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

The quality of the contents, pictures and articles of your magazine, books, and newspapers et al is part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry. If your readers are always looking forward to the next edition of your magazine, books, and newspapers et al simply because of one, two or all the contents in it, then you will be able to survive the publishing industry.

Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust distribution network. The truth is that, once authors know that you have a robust distribution network and flexible marketing strategy, they are likely going to do business with you.

21. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customers’ retention and perhaps to attract new customers is to satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your services delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service provider or products.

Statistics has it that one of the major reasons why clients source for alternative service provider or product is when there is a drop in quality. If you can continue to improve on the quality of your publications and customer service delivery and also give your customers options, then you won’t struggle to maintain loyal customers.

When it comes to managing your customers and building loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software. With a customized CRM system you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick survey, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can send bulk SMS and customized e – mails and above all you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).

22. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are deliberate about boosting you brand and communicating your corporate identity, then you must be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be. One of the secret of big corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes year in and year out to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity.

If your intention of starting a publishing business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are operating from to become a national or international publisher, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

In promoting your brand and corporate identity, you should leverage on print and electronic media. As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use the internet and social media platforms to promote your brands, besides it is pretty much effective and wide reaching.

Another strategy is to sponsor relevant TV and radio programs, and also to sponsor events both locally and internationally. You can also brand all your distribution vehicles, and official cars, your workers should be encouraged to wear your company’s branded shirt and you should install your billboards in strategic locations.

23. Create a Suppliers/Distribution Network

The final stage in publication involves making the product available to the public, usually by offering it for sale. In previous centuries, authors frequently also acted as their own editor, printer, and bookseller, but these functions have become separated. Once a book, newspaper, or another publication is printed, the publisher may use a variety of channels to distribute it.

Books are most commonly sold through booksellers and through other retailers. Newspapers and magazines are typically sold in advance directly by the publisher to subscribers, and then distributed either through the postal system or by newspaper carriers. Periodicals are also frequently sold through newsagents and vending machines.

The truth is the whole process of producing a quality magazine title, book titles et al and distributing them can be cumbersome and if you publish a weekly magazine, then you must always be on your toe week in week out. Please note that timely distribution is a key factor in this industry.

The advent of the Internet has provided the electronic way of book distribution without the need of physical printing, physical delivery and storage of books. This, therefore, poses an interesting question that challenges publishers, distributors and retailers.

When it comes to distribution, you have the options of mailing your magazines to subscribers both domestically and internationally. It will save you cost and time if you work with the printing press responsible for printing the magazines to help you use their distribution channels to distribute your magazines.

You can also engage dispatch riders to help you take your magazines to newsstands and pick up locations within the cities you want to sell your magazines. This can be a difficult task if you chose to operate nationally or internationally. It means that you must work with airline companies and also post offices et al.

24. Tips for Running a Publishing Business Successfully

No matter the kind of business you choose to run, your ability to get all the members of your team on the same page at all times is one of the keys you would need to successfully run the organization.

As the chief executive officer or chief editor of your publishing company, it is your responsibility to assembly the right team and give direction to the business. Part of what you need to do is to ensure that you create time for office meetings; a time where challenges, feedback, projections and relevant issues are discussed. The meetings could be daily, once in a week or once in a month. The bottom line is that there should be consistent meeting between you and members of your team.

Carrying out appraisals on a regular basis and training your employees will help you run your organization effectively. Encourage your employees to pursue certifications in their various area of specializations; it will help your organization’s profile and of course it will help the individuals. You can choose to sponsor some of the certifications.

Lastly, you can make provisions for freelance editors and freelance proofreaders and you should also ensure that keep your doors open for suggestions from members of your team. Do not forget to make provision for rewarding excellent performance as at when due. When you reward excellent performance in your company, you will give room for health competition amongst your workforce and that is indeed good for business.

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