I’m so excited to welcome back efriend Tasha with her great advice on being an indie author. Last time she talked about ebooks and revolutionised my writing career. This time… just read the article 😉
Many self-publishing guides will talk about brand and how to create one. When considering this, one of the options is to set up a company. This is what my sister and I did, and in this article, I will explain our reasoning and the advantages and headaches we have run into along the way.
When considering self-publishing, one of the first things my sister, Sophie, and I did was sign up for a self-publishing course with one of the major publishers. As it turned out the course was not overly useful in many ways because, at the time, they were focused on self-publishing hard copy and had absolutely no clue about eBooks (this was before the big six had really thought about eBooks), which was what we were interested in.
However, one of the big takeaways from the course was that it’s a really good idea to have a logo on our books.
Why have a logo on a book?
All traditionally published books have a publisher’s logo, hence the easiest way to make a book look professional, and hence gain a reader’s trust, is to put a logo on it. This even applies to eBooks. In a world where everyone is self-publishing, the more professional a book looks, the more of a leg up it has. We were advised to make up a logo, even if there was no company to go with it.
Of course there are many other considerations, like professional looking cover work etc, but a logo is that little added +1.
Why set up a company to go with the logo?
Sophie and I decided the whole idea of a logo would be a very good idea since we publish books both individually and in partnership and it would give us an umbrella under which to bring everything together.
Following this we decided to set up a company for our brand so we could protect the name.
Under UK law there is something called a parked company which is specifically for this. It means the company does not trade and is created just as an entity for the brand.
The Biggest Pro – Protection
Having Wittegen Press registered as a parked company gives us all the protections of having the company, but means we do not have to deal with detailed accounts etc. No one can set up another trading entity and pretend to be us. This is our name and no one else can get their hands on it.
The Biggest Con – Setting Up the Company
It costs money to set up a company, even a parked one, and it’s not the easiest minefield to navigate. It takes time and energy and cold hard cash. I have to be totally honest, I didn’t really get it all even when looking into it. In the end I found a nice company called Duport Associates and paid them to do it for me.
At the time it was very reasonably priced, and they handled it very well and quickly.
First of all, let’s talk about the obstacles waiting in the wings when setting up and maintaining a company.
Deciding on a name:
A brand is all well and good, but what do we call it? For some authors the choice is simple – it’s all in the name, as in their name. Their name is their brand and so the answer is right there in front of them. For Sophie and me it was not so simple since this was an umbrella brand. We went through many ideas and used Google a lot!
In the end, to come up with something unique, we looked to our own books. Sophie is a language nerd and for the book series we are writing together – The Haward Mysteries, she made up a magical language. We took one of the words from that and added “press” on the end so everyone would know it was a publishing company.
Wittegen Press was born!
Deciding on a logo:
Truth of the matter is, logos are hard. If I was doing it again, I would probably go out and pay a professional to do it for me. As it was, I designed our logo. It’s been refined since, but it’s basically mine.
In the UK, even parked companies have to submit accounts, although it is one page and nothing complicated. And we get fined if we do it late.
We also have to pay Companies House once a year for the privilege of having the company registered. There is also a fine for doing this late.
So basically there is housekeeping that has to be done every year.
Having a brand that looks like a publishing company will bring submission enquiries, even if the website states your company is not open for submissions. So it’s a good idea to have a polite reply on hand. 😊
All companies these days need a website and that is going to be extra work on top of any personal web presence as well. It’s a lot easier than it used to be, but it still takes time.
There are many plus points of having a company other than simply looking professional.
A company does not have to be just our name and gives us the freedom to come up with a unique brand that people will remember. For example, my name is already unique – Natasha Duncan-Drake – Google me and up I pop. However, my sister – Sophie Duncan – does not have this advantage. Google here and there are several Sophie Duncans popping up. However, because of the work we put in to coming up with our company name and brand, that is unique.
It’s all well and good having a brand based on a person as an individual, but what if we want to start publishing under a different penname for some reason? We might want to branch out into a new genre that we want to keep separate from our current work. If our brand is simply our name, we have to work on building that all over again with the new one.
However, if our brand is a company that our readers trust, if we introduce a new author under that brand, we have that to build on. There will still be work to do, but the foundation is already there.
Individual and Company Relationships:
We can have an individual and a company presence to encourage different engagement.
Writers will always have a personal link with our audience because we put so much of ourselves into our work. However, sometimes it is useful to have a connection which is a step back from that as well.
We can have our own personal blogs and social media, and we can have company blogs and social media to present different faces to our readers. One is great for that individuality we all enjoy and the other for a more professional face.
Many authors manage to juggle this without a company, but having one can really make things easier.
And there we have it, the pros and cons of using a company to build a brand. It does take extra work, but it can be used to create brand confidence which can then be employed for all sorts of applications. For Sophie and I, it was well worth it and best of luck to everyone who decides to try a similar route.
About Natasha Duncan-Drake
Natasha is a British author living in the south east of England with her husband and two cats. She has been publishing genre fiction with, and running Wittegen Press since 2011. Her work includes everything from horror to young adult fantasy and she has never met a genre she didn’t like. A prolific producer of short stories and novels alike, Natasha currently has over twenty five titles in her back catalogue with further releases always imminent.
I hope that you enjoyed Tasha’s post and that you learned something new to add to your toolbox! Any questions for Tasha?
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