Starting a Publishing Company: What to Prioritize

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  • Gather financial capital and business connections to establish a thriving book publishing company.
  • Develop relationships with authors, investors, suppliers, and industry contacts to increase profitability.
  • Understand rules and regulations relevant to the book publishing industry.
  • Obtain insurance coverage to protect the business from legal liabilities or property damage.

Starting a publishing company can be an extremely profitable enterprise. According to a 2018 Association of American Publishers survey, revenues from book publishing in the United States totaled just under $27 billion that year. Of this, trade books such as fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books accounted for nearly $24 billion. Meanwhile, almost $3 billion was generated from sales of professional and educational materials such as textbooks.

The demand for books is steady and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The most recent Nielsen BookScan report shows that print book units sold in the US rose by 3 percent, while print sales revenue increased by 4 percent. Additionally, e-book unit sales rose 5 percent while the total value of digital book sales increased 7 percent during this time frame.

Furthermore, the global e-book market size was valued at nearly $19 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach over $36 billion by 2024, according to a report by Grand View Research. This suggests ample growth opportunities for new publishers entering the market in print and digital formats.

Gathering Connections

Signing authors to contracts

Starting a publishing company requires both financial capital and business connections. Access to the right connections is critical to successfully launching a book publishing company. Here are some meaningful relationships to consider:


Authors are the lifeblood of a book publishing company, so publishers need to have a good network of authors from whom they can source new books. This will help you create a strong portfolio of titles and build your reputation as a publisher. When looking for authors, consider connecting with new authors who have recently graduated from writing programs, writers’ groups, local literary festivals or competitions, and emerging literary agents. Established authors should also be sought out, as their continual productivity can help keep revenue streams steady over time.


Investors are essential in helping to fund the operations of any new business venture. They can provide capital for launching the business and aid in covering ongoing marketing costs or other expenses necessary for success. It is essential to carefully research potential investors before approaching them, as not all may suit your particular publishing house. Look into angel investors specializing in investing in media-related businesses and venture capitalists who have experience working with startups.


Book publishers need reliable suppliers who can provide high-quality products at competitive prices on time. Suppliers should include those that provide materials such as paper stock and printing services and distribution channels through which books can be sold on retail shelves or online platforms such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble. It is wise for book publishers to establish relationships with multiple suppliers as this can help negotiate better prices and reduce the risk of supply chain disruptions.

Industry Contacts

Establishing contacts within the publishing industry is essential for success. Networking with other publishers, editors, agents, and booksellers will open up opportunities such as joint marketing strategies or co-publishing collaborations. Such relationships can be beneficial in gaining insight into industry trends, staying ahead of the competition, and expanding your customer base. Additionally, these contacts may be able to provide valuable feedback that could prove helpful when launching a new title or developing an existing line of books.

Learning Rules and Regulations

Understanding rules for book publishing

In addition to gathering contacts, you must familiarize yourself with the book publishing industry’s rules and regulations. For example, Understanding copyright laws helps protect publishers and authors from infringement issues. Additionally, having a grasp on distribution processes allows you to ensure books are correctly delivered and marketed promptly. Reading up on industry best practices can also help provide any business decisions that adhere to accepted standards within the field.

Finally, it is beneficial for new publishers to understand how retailers set their book prices, as this can influence profits and sales figures. Knowing such information means publishers can adjust pricing strategies accordingly or even provide discounts when feasible.

Securing Insurance

Starting a publishing company does come with some risks, and having the right insurance coverage in place can help protect your business. Consider obtaining affordable employer’s insurance to provide financial protection for your business. The policy should be your top priority to ensure you have a backup plan if the business does not pan out.

Investing in property damage and theft insurance for equipment and premises is also wise. Lastly, obtaining professional indemnity insurance will cover any potential damages in case of negligence or misstated facts on behalf of the publisher. Those insurance policies can be the difference between success and failure for any business.

Final Thoughts

Starting a publishing company requires significant effort, financial resources, and business connections. The book publishing industry may be competitive, but it is ripe with opportunities for those willing to do the work. Using the tips outlined above, you will be well on your way to creating a successful and profitable enterprise.

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