Birthday Presents: Indie Publishing Business Names
So I had a birthday on Saturday. Wasn't really anything exceptional. I worked most of the day, came home after midnight, and brought the mail in. Wife and kids were all sound asleep, so I sat down with the mail. Couple of cards, which I set aside unopened - my wife would want me to save those for later. Paycheck. That was a nice birthday present. New nursing license, in at last. Always good. But I also got this little letter from the Secretary of State:
My certificate of trade name registration. For my publishing company.
That was an especially nice birthday present.
I think having a company name is important. There's a sense of professionalism one has when operating "as a business". As a culture, we take a business more seriously than we take a person's individual venture. We see a business name attached, and it automatically gives the project more credibility. That's true even if it's a sole proprietorship, because we see the person as trying to "do it for real" when they register their business.
From a publishing perspective, what does this mean? A book with "Kevin McLaughlin" listed as publisher won't be taken seriously by as many people as the same book, same cover, with "Role of the Hero Publishing" listed instead. Or "Red Heart Press", or "Rocketship Books", or whatever company name you might decide to use. Just like "Joe's Garage" will be taken seriously by more people than Joe working on cars out of his actual garage would be, adding a business name gives your publishing effort an extra leg up.
Internally, I think it matters too. We're not unaffected by our culture. By taking the time, effort, and bit of money to register a business, we're telling our subconscious that yes, this is real to me. This matters. This is not my hobby - this is my business. Might not be full time yet, but I'm serious about it. It says the same thing to family, too. Sometimes, being able to say that the son/daughter/grandma/aunt/father/daughter-in-law or whatever is starting a publishing business (rather than "is trying to write a book") is just easier on everyone involved. ;)
There's another factor, too. We're in the middle of changes right now, changes which have allowed indies to "get in there" and make things happen even as individual authors with no business name, no special requirements at all. That's how it is now; that's not necessarily how it will always be, though. Things change - right now, the only sure thing is that we've got more change ahead. Individual writers might go right on being able to sell books - or things might change to make that impossible.
But the small press has been around a really, really long time. And it's unlikely that any change coming down the pipe will wipe out the small press. So to some degree, emulating the business model of a small press will add viability to your business. It's not a magic bullet, but it's another small step toward making sure you'll be able to keep doing things the way you want to do them as we march on into the future.
So for a variety of reasons - I strongly advocate giving this a try. It's usually not too expensive. Found the business. Maybe set up a website for the company (or maybe save that for later - it's not really critical right away). Take on the mantle of professional publisher, as well as professional writer. I think your attitude toward the publishing end of the work will be improved by the change.