Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

To Imprint or Not

The other day I bought the domain, although I don’t know yet whether I’ll ever actually use it. I’ve seen some great arguments in favor of self-publishers going to the effort of setting up their own publishing imprint.

One is that it adds another layer of legitimacy in the eyes of the reader. I wonder how true this is. My husband recently bought a self-published paperback on Amazon, and he had no idea it was self-published until I picked it up and looked for the publishing imprint. It was obvious that that book was self-pubbed to anyone who knows what signs to look for — but how many non-writer, casual readers actually know what signs to look for? And for that matter, how many of them actually care? My husband didn’t, on either count. The publishing imprint made no difference to him one way or the other.

The other argument is that it’s good for tax purposes, which is true. If you’re going to self-publish, you need to make the pains to set up an official business that you can put down on your schedule C come tax time. But I already have a sole proprietorship. Is it even possible to have two of them, since in the state of Oklahoma your legal business name is YOUR name? Can you have two Doing Business As names under one sole proprietorship? And if I did set up my own indie publishing company, would I then have to maintain two separate business bank accounts? Two separate business Paypals? Two separate Outright accounts (Outright is the online accounting program I use for my business. I really don’t want to have to pay for two yearly subscriptions)?

Also, if I start my own imprint will I have to buy all my own ISBNs in order to publish under it, or will I still be able to use the free ones that the POD services offer?

Clearly, I need to do some more research in this area. But I think what it boils down to for me is that it’s not really necessary, since I can just funnel all of my transactions through J. M. Bauhaus Enterprises; but if I can figure out a way to do that AND set up my own imprint without having to double up on business accounts and Schedule Cs, then it certainly won’t hurt to go ahead and do it.

ETA: I found the answer to my first set of questions. I can in fact have as many DBAs (doing business as names) as I want; and since I have all of my Web Wrangler customers who write checks make them out to my real name anyway, if I decide to go the imprint route I can just change the DBA name on my bank account to match it. Which all boils down in the end to only having to pay for one Outright subscription, which for me was pretty much the clincher.

Well, the other clincher is the ISBN question. I need to keep researching that, since so far I keep turning up different answers and I can’t figure out who’s right and who’s just trying to get writers to give them money for ISBNs.


  1. davidrm

    I’ve been using the free ISBN’s (from CreateSpace and Smashwords). Ebooks don’t even need ISBN’s…except that some ebook sellers, like Apple and Sony, require them. Legacy blah blah blah.
    I’ve seen the advice to use the free ISBN’s for short stories and pay for the ISBN’s for novels. I might do that in the future. Maybe. I haven’t seen a compelling reason to do it yet. ISBN’s just aren’t that important.
    FWIW, I’ve had years where I’ve filed 3 schedule C’s, one per business endeavor.
    I like having my little publishing company. It does seem to add a touch (as in a smudge) of additional legitimacy. But I haven’t seen any real change in purchasing behavior (as in, an increase) since I made that change. I think it will be more useful in the future…for some reason that I haven’t bumped into yet. =)

    • Jean

      Awesome info, David. Thank you.
      FWIW, I’ve had years where I’ve filed 3 schedule C’s, one per business endeavor.

      It’s not that I mind having multiple schedule Cs as much as that I don’t want to have to stop using Outright to prepare them, and I don’t want to have to pay for multiple accounts. I guess I should start requesting that they add support for multiple businesses per account.
      I like the idea of having my own little indie publishing company, but I know I’ll have to minimize expenses every way I can to get my husband on board with the idea.

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