Understanding Imprint Names in Self-Publishing

March 29, 2024

In the world of self-publishing, authors are not only creators of content but also entrepreneurs of their own literary ventures. One often overlooked aspect of this journey is the use of an “imprint” name. An imprint is like a brand within a brand, allowing self-publishers to establish a unique identity for our works. In this article, we discuss the significance of an imprint, how to choose the right name, whether registration is necessary, the benefits it offers, ensuring its availability, and where it needs to be used.


What is an Imprint?

An imprint is essentially a publishing label or brand name that you can choose to publish your works under. It’s a way to differentiate your books and create a consistent presence across your literary portfolio. While self-publishing platforms give you the option to use your own name, having an imprint name can lend an air of professionalism and coherence to your body of work.

Using an imprint name that isn’t your personal name offers the advantage of creating a distinct and memorable brand identity separate from your personal persona. This separation enhances professionalism, facilitates genre diversification, and allows for privacy, enabling you to build a broader readership and maintain flexibility in your writing pursuits.

What Is the Difference between an Imprint and a Publisher?

In the case of self-publishers, the distinction between the publisher’s name and the imprint name can sometimes blur or be combined, as we often operate on a smaller scale compared to traditional publishing houses. However, let’s clarify the difference:

Publisher’s Name:
For self-publishers, the publisher’s name typically refers to the legal entity or business name under which you operate your publishing activities. This could be your own name or a separate business name you’ve chosen for your publishing. In my case, my legal entity is “Marcy Pusey.”

Imprint Name:
The imprint name, on the other hand, is a branding tool used to give a specific identity to a subset of your work. Even within self-publishing, you might choose to establish different imprints to categorize your books based on genre, target audience, or style. For example, you might use one imprint name for your mystery novels and another for your children’s books, even though both are published under the same legal entity. In my case, “Miramare Ponte Press” is the imprint that oversees all of my publishing work.

Essentially, the publisher is the umbrella—you. And the imprint(s) is the name of your brand/”publishing” name. Your personal name represents the overarching entity responsible for publishing, the imprint name serves as a way to brand and categorize specific groups of books within your publishing portfolio, offering readers a clearer idea of what to expect from each subset of works.

Traditional publishers do the same but on a larger scale. For example, Scholastic has 17 imprints, including Scholastic Press, known for children’s and middle-grade literature, including the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling. They also have imprints such as Acorn, Cartwheel Books®, Scholastic en español®, Scholastic Nonfiction®, etc., all representing different facets of Scholastic’s publishing library.

Benefits of Using an Imprint Name

  1. Professionalism: An imprint name demonstrates a higher level of professionalism and commitment to your publishing business. It can reassure readers, collaborators, and potential partners that you take your publishing efforts seriously.
  2. Branding: Your imprint name becomes a recognizable brand that readers can connect with. This consistency can foster trust and loyalty among your audience.
  3. Diversification: If you write in multiple genres, an imprint name allows you to categorize your works, making it easier for readers to find books that align with their interests.
  4. Separation of Identities: Using an imprint name creates a professional identity distinct from your personal name. This can be particularly useful if you intend to maintain your personal privacy or if you write in genres with different target audiences.

Choosing the Perfect Imprint Name

Selecting an imprint name is a crucial step, as it will be associated with your books. Consider these points:

  1. Relevance: Choose a name that reflects the tone, genre, or niche of your writing. It should resonate with your target audience and give them a sense of what to expect from your books.
  2. Memorability: Opt for a name that is easy to remember and spell. Avoid overly complex or ambiguous names that might confuse potential readers (like Miramare Ponte Press, ha ha ha ha).
  3. Uniqueness: Conduct thorough research to ensure the name is not already in use by another publisher or company. Check not only existing publishers but also websites, social media platforms, and domain names. You want your chosen name to be distinct and easily distinguishable from others in the market. This will help you avoid legal issues and brand confusion. You can do a trademark search here as well.
  4. Scalability: Consider the name’s long-term potential. Will it still make sense and be relevant as you publish more books in the future?

Where to Use Your Imprint Name

  1. Book Covers: Place your imprint name prominently on the cover of your books. This establishes a consistent visual identity.
  2. Copyright Page: Include your imprint name along with other publication details on the copyright page of your books.
  3. Online Retailers: Use your imprint name when publishing on platforms like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others.
  4. Author Website and Social Media: To reinforce your brand, incorporate your imprint name into your website, social media profiles, and marketing materials.

Do You Need to Register Your Imprint?

One strategic decision that authors often face is whether to establish their imprint as a “Doing Business As” (DBA) entity or a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Registering your imprint name depends on your goals and legal considerations. While registering isn’t mandatory, it may be advantageous.

Operating under a DBA or LLC allows you to create a clear legal separation between your personal identity and your publishing imprint. This separation can offer a level of privacy and protect your personal assets from potential business-related liabilities. If you anticipate substantial growth and expansion of your brand, consulting with legal experts might be prudent to ensure you’re on solid legal ground.

In the world of self-publishing, an imprint name can be a valuable tool to shape your brand, enhance your professionalism, and create a lasting connection with your readers. By understanding the significance of an imprint, carefully choosing a name, considering registration, and strategically using it across various platforms, you can effectively leverage this aspect of self-publishing to build a strong and recognizable author identity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *