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How to Set Up a Publishing House

Are you passionate about books and want to give opportunities to new writers? In this guide, we tell you how to set up a publishing house step by step.

How to Set Up a Publishing House

No, the book business is not dead yet. People are still reading books, both in physical and digital format.

Although it is not an easy sector, setting up a publishing house can be a good business if we have a base of talented writers and a clear idea of what we want to sell.

Making a Business Plan

Before starting any business, we will have to draw up a business plan to delimit the project and know the costs, viability, competition, etc. In the case of a publishing house, this plan should include the following questions:

  • Who will be our target audience?
  • What genres are we going to publish?
  • Paper and digital, paper only, digital-only?
  • In what languages will we publish books?
  • New or already published authors?
  • How will we differentiate ourselves from the competition?
  • What is the objective of our publishing house?

The answers to these questions will help us delimit the type of publishing house we want to create and the type of authors we will publish.

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In this sense, it is also essential to study our potential competition: what they sell, how they sell it, and how they do it?

These are some of the questions we should ask ourselves when carrying out a market study. Knowing where they are slacking can help us to know where to place our editorial line.

As always, after the business plan comes to the SWOT analysis, we can judge the weaknesses, threats, strengths, and opportunities of our future publishing house.

With the SWOT analysis in hand, we will be able to draw up our Feasibility Plan and see whether our publishing house will be profitable or not. To have a correct budget that you need to invest, you should take into account these factors:

  • Having offices or not (a small publishing house dedicated exclusively to online publishing can work from home).
  • The jobs we will have to outsource (printing, illustrators, distributors, proofreaders, etc.).
  • The staff we need to hire(layout artists, editors, translators, salespeople, professional readers, etc.)
  • Payment of fees and taxes
  • Payment to writers. Publishers do not hire writers (at least not usually) but acquire the rights to the works they want to publish for a period specified in the contract (usually five years) that they present to the writer.
  • Typically, the percentage that the writer keeps from the sale of the books is 10%. In addition, advance payment is usually made at the time of formalizing the contract.

Choosing a Legal Form

As in any business, we must choose the legal form under which we will incorporate our company. The procedures and the tax, accounting, and labor obligations that we will have to comply with will depend on that denomination.

It is essential and fundamental to have the company registered before the establishment begins to operate.

Regulations applicable to the publishing world:

  • Publishers will have to set a single retail price, which will be considered by bookstores and other establishments where the book is sold.
  • To know the essential procedures and accreditation systems that will help us manage the publishing house.
  • Registration of the works to be published in the ISBN
  • The obligation of the Legal Deposit of published works.
  • Compliance (although it is not mandatory) with the CSL (Book Supply Chain) Standards.

Choosing a Name

With the number of independent publishers emerging, choosing a name is a crucial task. We will have to create a name that differentiates us but at the same time identifies us.

Here are some tips:

  • Make sure it is original, do not look for inspiration from other publishers.
  • Make it easy to remember.
  • It can refer to the type of books we sell or their genre.
  • If we intend to create a website, check that the domain name is available.
  • Consult with friends, family, and associates.

Branding Design and a Logo for Our Publishing House

The brand image or branding is an essential point when creating the publishing house. It differentiates us from the competition.

In addition, we will be able to associate our values to it and thus create a corporate image that will make us more attractive.

It is better to leave it in the hands of professionals to obtain a quality result, which, for example, can combine our name with the logo.

The more details we give to the designer, the easier it will be to find the logo that fits what we have in mind.


Publishers of physical books depend entirely on distributors to get their books into the stores they want.

So it will be essential to choose the most convenient distributor, who assure excellent service and better rates.

A Base of Authors

Of course, having a small base of authors to publish when we start our business is highly recommended because we will have books to sell from the beginning.

It can be new writers to whom we want to give a chance. We can find talented authors in writing communities or at the best paper writing services.

You also can try to bet on better-known authors, although this second case will not be an easy task.

Equipment and Facilities 

If we choose to have an office, the choice of the premises will depend on the number of people working in it and the tasks we will perform there.

If we receive clients in the offices, a site that is well communicated and easily accessible will be a good choice.


  • Office equipment
  • Tables and chairs
  • Computers
  • Layout software (if we choose to do it ourselves)
  • Design and illustration software (if we decide to do it ourselves)
  • Reference material

Small Publishers

Although big names may come to mind when talking about a publishing house, the truth is that there are currently a large number of independent publishers with a certain level of success that is expanding the variety of genres and authors available on the market.

The advantage of such publishers is that they can focus on a particular literary niche in which they can always have sales (for example, horror or science fiction or even essays).

A “disadvantage” is that they have to outsource most of the tasks related to the edition of a book. Still, it can also give them the freedom to independently hire the services of certain professionals, such as illustrators.

Thanks to social networks and the Internet, this publishing house enjoys a great capacity to promote itself and make itself known at a relatively low cost.

E-Book Publishers

If we do not have many funds at the beginning of our publishing adventure, one possibility is to create a publishing house that publishes e-books.

The digital format can lower the costs related to printing, distribution, and the profit margin of the stores. It can also allow us to partner with Amazon or other digital platforms to sell our e-books and get them some more visibility.


Setting up a publishing house is a task that will require effort, decision, and money to invest and a good eye for choosing the authors with whom to start our adventure.

Knowing how to differentiate ourselves from the competition will be the key.

It is not a business that postulates as a quick way to make money. Publishing is more of a long-distance race.


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