Consumers are increasingly moving away from traditional publishing formats like paper books and newspapers and consuming more of their content digitally. It’s not just the written word either — videos, radio shows, podcasts and other digital media are becoming increasingly popular.

For an entrepreneur with the right idea, publishing can be a great industry to get into.

From the solo blog writer to the head of a content publishing agency, there are opportunities for publishers of all types. While it’s true that the internet has lowered barriers to entry, if you can find a good publishing niche, you can build a reputation as a place for entertaining, insightful and trustworthy content.

We know it can be daunting to start a publishing business, and we’re here to help.

We’ve supported over 500,000 people to form their business and provided answers, guidance and support to transform them into entrepreneurs.

To get you off on the right foot, here’s our simple guide to starting a successful publishing business. From highlighting important facts to validating your ideas, and from choosing the right structure to your learning about your options for managing and running your business, you’ll find the answers you need here.

Read on for some insight into creating your own publishing business and becoming an entrepreneur. In this guide we will cover:

Statistics on why you should start a publishing company

Learning if a publishing business could be right for you

Different types of publishing companies

How to validate your publishing business idea

Helpful software for publishing business owners

Groups, forums and support for publishing company owners

Setting up your publishing business, including location, equipment, employees, taxes, finances, licenses and more

How to choose whether your publishing company should be an LLC or corporation

Publishing business planning

Why You Should Start Your Own Publishing Business

Because publishing is changing so rapidly, we thought it would be interesting to share some facts and figures on the current state of the industry:

$26B

The U.S. book publishing industry is worth over a year.

$18B

The revenue from digital publishers across all formats a year.

$2.7B

Approximate numbers of books sold every year

The split of sales in online retail is approximately…
43% Print
27% eBooks
16% Instructional
10% Download Audia
3% Physical Audio or different format

Physical and online retail each account for about half of the book publishing market

Adult nonfiction is the fastest-growing area, with a 5 percent annual increase

Downloaded audio content is the fastest growing of publisher products

This is why publishing businesses are so exciting — how can you be part of that success? We're here to help you figure that out.

Is a Publishing Company Right for You?

Although it can be exciting to form a publishing business, there will be significant demands on you as a small business owner. Here are some of the things you can expect:

A Day in the Life of a Publisher

Here are some of the typical tasks you’ll be performing for your publishing business on a daily basis:

Working with writers on new content ideas and pitches

Possibly writing content yourself

Working with editors to polish work

Establishing how you are going to make money from publishing

Sharing the latest articles and publications on social media and other forums

Working with artists, developers and others to add images, context and other interactive content

Working with distributors to share content

Skills Needed by a Publisher

The following skills will be very useful in your role as a publishing small business owner:

The ability to know what will appeal to your audience

Developing a strong brand, approach and tone of voice so you have a distinctive style

Skimming through multiple pitches and ideas to identify those that have commercial appeal and value to consumers

Juggling multiple freelancers or employees to present content in the best possible way

Collaborating with media outlets and posting on social media to maximize content visibility

Deciding on future publishing schedules and content strategies and commissioning relevant work

What Your Customers Are Looking For

There’s a market for almost all types of publishing, so well-researched, interesting work will likely find an audience. Your content should inform, educate, entertain, or inspire the consumer.

Inform: Tell your audience something they didn’t know about before

Educate: Share skills and instructions to achieve a specific outcome

Entertain: Amuse or otherwise engage with your media consumers

Inspire: Share stories and anecdotes to involve and move your consumers

What Type of Publishing Company Should You Start?

When it comes to starting a publishing business, you have plenty of choices. Here are the main areas where publishing businesses can be successful.

Here are some of the more popular options:

1

Specialized Nonfiction Publisher

Nonfiction is a growing sector of the U.S. publishing industry. From creating how-to guides to courses and educational resources, there’s plenty of demand for insightful, informative, practical content.

2

News and Current Affairs Publisher

Journalism requires a special type of publishing — information needs to get into the world quickly, and it relies not just on reporting but analysis and insight. Because it’s very difficult to be a generalist when it comes to news, you should choose and publish in a niche that you know well.

3

Video and Audio Content Publisher

More people are choosing to consume published content in audio or video form. From publishing on YouTube to creating podcasts, there’s an ever-growing market for content you can interact with while doing other things.

4

Blogger on Niche Topics

Blogging is one of the easiest ways to become a publisher. In some cases you will create blog content yourself, and in others you may accept content from guest contributors in exchange for backlinks or other collateral.

5

Book Publisher

There’s nothing more traditional than a book publisher, and with easy access to ebooks via Kindle and other platforms, the costs are low. If you’re an author, you might even try self-publishing your work.

Validating Your Publishing Business Idea

These areas are just starting points — there are many different types of publishing businesses. Once you’ve identified the areas you’d like to go into, you need to validate your publishing business idea.

Getting started in a publishing business is easy, but becoming a success is harder.

Before committing too much time, energy and money into your new publishing business, it’s important to test the marketplace.

Identify your publishing business’ unique selling points (USPs)

For most publishers, your USPs will come from two areas: the niche you choose and the style/format that you present work in.

Understand your market

Clearly identify their niche that you’re targeting and what they are likely to want from your content. This will be essential to your marketing, communications and promoting your content.

Look at who your competitors are in the space

There’s a lot of competition for eyeballs, and with the ability to publish worldwide on the web, it’s important to understand who is in a similar field to you and the approach they’re taking. This will help you make your publishing unique so you can attract and retain an audience.

Get involved with business communities and discussion groups

One of the great things about the publishing business is that there are plenty of great communities and discussion groups. Get involved in them and learn the ins and outs of your chosen market before committing.

The thing to learn here is that it’s okay to say “no” to your first, second or third publishing business ideas. Very few entrepreneurs get it right the first time. In fact, getting it wrong is often a badge of honor! Still, you don’t want to waste too much time, energy or money on the wrong initiatives, so ask and answer these questions honestly to find the right way forward.

Your Publishing Business Needs a Plan

You need to define how you’re going to run your publishing business, market yourself, generate revenue, make a profit and grow. This can only come about through creating a watertight business plan. It will help you get your thinking in order and show your commitment to your publishing business.

You will also need to look at financial projections for your publishing business.

What are your expected sales and revenues? What is your profitability? How much money will you keep in the business to grow it? How much will you pay yourself and others?

If you can, try to plan your revenue for the next month, three months, year and two years. It’s vital to take into account the cost of setting up a publishing business in the first place, also factoring in utility, staff and other costs.

Business plans do vary slightly, but they should all cover the following areas:

1

An executive summary with the most important points from your business plan

2

Your goals and what you hope to achieve with your publishing company

3

A description of your publishing business, including background information and context

4

A market analysis and likely demand

5

An overview of how your publishing company is structured

6

Your business model

7

How you will market and sell your offerings

8

Financial projections, revenue and profitability

9

Appendices

We’ve got the perfect guide to writing your business plan.

Choose the Right Business Structure and Register Your Construction Business

Choose the Right Business Structure and Register Your Publishing Company

Now that you have all the background information for your publishing business, it’s time to make it into a reality. That starts by choosing the right structure or “legal entity” for your business. In the U.S., there are five main business structures. They are:

Sole Proprietorship

If you don’t choose to form a legal business entity for your publishing business, you will be a sole proprietor by default. This won’t give you the legal protections you need, so we do not recommend this.

Partnership Company or LLC

Similar to a sole proprietorship, if you go into business with someone else without forming a legal business entity, you will be treated as a partnership. This doesn’t give you limited liability protections, so we don’t recommend it for your food truck business.

Limited Liability Company or LLC

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is ideal for most publishing businesses. An LLC is easy and inexpensive to set up, and has the least administrative requirements of any formal business entity.

S Corporation

This is a more complex type of business and isn't generally recommended for smaller organizations.

C Corporation

These are the largest and most complex types of businesses and are typically far more than the average entrepreneur will need.

For more information on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of businesses, please see our in-depth guide. If you’ve still got questions, we’ve answered them to help you choose the right business structure for your publishing company business.

In most cases, our recommendation for your publishing business would be to create an LLC. We’ve got a complete guide to everything you need to do. LLC formation does vary from state to state, but we’ve got you covered, wherever you are.

Setting up Your Publishing Company and Business Operations

Once you've legally created your publishing business, you’ll need to get some other things in place.

The Complete "Start Your Business" Checklist

A Clear and Comprehensive Guide to Starting Your Business the Right Way

The Complete Start Your Business Checklist

Rules, Regulations and Taxes for Publishers & Publishing Houses

Even though you may be running a digital and virtual publishing business, you can’t escape real-world licenses, permits and regulations. You will need to explore local, state and federal licenses and permits, and we can also help out with researching your business licensing needs.

Taxes

Taxes are a fact of life if you’re in business, and there are various ways you will need to file and pay them. This can include self-employment tax, state income tax and federal income tax. Depending on where and how you’re selling products and services, you may also be liable for sales and use tax.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend holding back around a third of your earnings to pay your taxes. We can also prepare and file your tax returns for you.

Insurance for Publishing Houses

Most publishing businesses should have comprehensive business insurance. There are various types.

Workers Compensation Insurance

Workers compensation insurance provides coverage for job-related illnesses, disabilities or injuries that affect employees. Regulations for this insurance vary from state to state. It typically covers areas like medical costs, loss of earnings, compensation and retraining. If you don’t have employees, you typically do not need this insurance.

General Liability Insurance

This insurance protects your publishing business from claims due to being sued. This may include injury to members of the public, property damage, personal liabilities, legal defense and more. It can help protect your business from financial penalties and bankruptcy. This type of insurance could be essential to your publishing business if there’s the potential for libel or slander, although you may need more specialized insurance in those instances.

Home and Auto Insurance

If you are working from home on the administration of your publishing business or driving a vehicle for work, check whether your existing home and auto policies cover you for work use of your home or car. If not, you should either expand your policy so you’re covered or get dedicated business insurance.

Maintaining Your Publishing Company

There are certain forms and legalities you need to follow to keep your publishing business in good standing.

1

File an Annual Report

Most states require all businesses to file a report once a year. This report has details of any major changes to who owns a business and other major impacts on a business’ legal status. We can file your Annual Report on your behalf.

Annual Report

2

Pay estimated taxes

You will be expected to pay estimated taxes on what you plan to earn in the current business year. Typically, you will need to pay estimated taxes in April, June, September and January (of the following year).

3

Renew Business Permits and Licenses

Your business will probably have several licenses, permits and other regulations. These typically need to be renewed every year.

4

File your taxes

You will need to file your taxes once a year.

5

Pay payroll and sales taxes

If applicable, you will need to make payroll and sales tax payments on a regular basis.

6

File your taxes

You will need to work with your accountant to prepare all the taxes you need to pay.

Groups and Forums for Your Publishing Company

Here are some useful places where you can connect with other publishing entrepreneurs:

Useful Online Tools for Publishers

Here are some really great online tools for managing your publishing business. They will reduce the time you spend on administration, help you to collaborate with others and free up your time to grow and manage your new venture.

Conclusion

The internet has made publishing entrepreneurship available to everyone. If you can find a great niche, understand your audience and put together a solid publishing business plan, you will have every chance for success.