How much does it cost to start a publishing company?

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Many writers start their own publishing companies for self-publishing purposes. This used to be an expensive process, but the Internet and low-cost publishing options make it more feasible to start a publishing company today than at any time in the past.

While there is some start-up costs involved, a small publishing company can be a relatively low-cost option for a writer wanting to self publish or someone wanting to get into the publishing business.

Company Registration

Like any company start-up, getting the proper license and business registration is one of the first costs to take into consideration. This cost varies widely, depending upon the structure of your business. In the case of a writer setting up his own publishing company to sell his work, the cost of registering a business can be as little as paying between £16 and £22 to register a fictitious name, known as a DBA (doing business as). If you plan to publish works by other authors, you will need to form an L.L.C (limited liability company), which requires lawyer fees and business registration fees. The lawyer fees will depend upon the hourly rate and service fees of the lawyer you choose.


Purchasing ISBNs for your books is one of the upfront costs of starting a publishing company. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. This is the number that will identify your publishing company as the publisher for the books you put out. It also gets your books listed in the "Books in Print" catalogue and available for purchase from book sellers. ISBNs can only be purchased from the "Bowker" agency. The cost, as of 2011, is £81 for one ISBN, £162 for ten or £650 for 1000. You need a different ISBN for every book you publish as well as for different editions of the same book. Figure the cost of the ISBNs you'll need up front, because it will be a major expense.

Production Costs

For a publishing company, you will need to figure in the cost of producing the books. Since many small publishers today use POD (print on Demand) technology, printing costs can often be offset and not undertaken until orders are made. By choosing a POD publisher with distribution channels that doesn't charge an upfront fee, you can avoid ordering printed books until they are sold, at which time the books will be printed and shipped for you, printing costs deducted and your money deposited into your business account. This type of set-up typically requires a one-time fee of between £32 and £65, although it depends on the printer you decide to use.

Publisher Website

You will need a website for your publishing company, along with a domain name. Domain registration is often included free with web hosting. Web hosting services have become relatively inexpensive in recent years due to competition. A typical web hosting plan can run as little as £3.20 a month, with options for additional services. Many web hosting plans will give you a discount for paying a year in advance.

Additonal Costs to Consider

Additional costs associated with a publishing company will vary depending upon how big you want to start and how you plan to operate. You will need an editor, someone to design covers for the books and money set aside for promoting the books you publish. To keep costs low, do as much of the work as you can or enlist the help of a partner who can do some of the work. A professional editor's salary may be too much for a small start-up publishing company to handle. Doing the editing yourself can cut this cost. Purchasing stock photography is a low-cost way to design affordable covers. To help alleviate the costs of marketing, use multimedia software to create free YouTube advertisements for your books, approach magazines and ask for book reviews, and contact radio stations and bookstores to set up interviews and book signings for your authors. These are methods of marketing that require little financial input.