What is an Imprint?

In the world of publishing, an imprint is a trade name that is created by publishers to establish a unique brand identity for a consecutive line of books that are aimed at specific market segments. In the world of self-publishing, imprints are a way for independent writers to establish credibility and authority. Imprint-based publishing makes it less obvious that the book is self-published. Imprints are also referred to as a DBA, which is short for the term “doing business as.”

What are the Challenges of Imprints?

There are proven problems with using imprints for self-published writers. Readers naturally avoid self-published books because they are concerned about quality. If a reader buys a self-published book because they assume it’s produced through a traditional publisher, they may be upset and disappointed if the content fails to meet their expectations. Many self-published books contain engaging and meaningful content, so the writers must overcome consumers’ doubts and suspicions by focusing on a professional book design. This includes proper editing, formatting as well as an eye-catching cover and detailed copyright page.

Because of this bias, it’s hard for independent writers and labels to get books stocked in stores and reviewed by the media. For example, reviewers and bookstore owners can clearly see if a book is print-on-demand from the printing number on the last page. To get around this problem, writers can find a regular printer to produce a limited number of copies. These versions are best to use when approaching bookstores. Bear in mind that traditionally printed books that appear unprofessional will be treated just like self-published, print-on-demand books.

How to Select a Name?

For self-published authors, choosing an imprinting name is a creative process that needs common sense and business planning. It is best to avoid using personal names because they don’t say much about the genre and have limited marketing appeal. Instead, imprints should imply promises and expectations about the book’s content. To illustrate, a line of romance novels can you words like passion or obsession and travel books can use words like discovery and adventure. Imprints may include the word company, but cannot include the word corporation, unless the writer has an established business.

In order to determine if a name is available, writers should use a popular search engine to verify that their name is unique and is not being used as a domain name. Next, scour the U.S. Trademark Office database to ensure that the name is available to be used as a registered trademark. Never use names that are similar to well-known brands or trademarks because these owners have the right to claim that others are attempting to use their valuable trademark in court.

Imprints establish a sense of content quality and commercial credibility. Using an imprint will not only win over readers and reviewers who normally refuse to consider self-published work, it is very useful when filing taxes as an independent contractor or sole proprietor of a writing business.