How to create a publishing house? Complete guide

The publishing industry is growing, with over 435 million books sold in 2019. Creating your own publishing house will allow you to collaborate with different types of authors. In this article, we explain everything there is to know about opening a publishing house.

Definition: what is a publishing house?

publishing Company’s role is to produce and market books, or even formatted documents. A publisher must therefore select texts, talk to the author about the publication, then manufacture the book before distributing it.

Today there are more than 10,000 publishers in France, and the size of the publishing houses varies enormously. You surely know the biggest ones: Hachette, Gallimard, or even Flammarion, but be aware that there are a very large number of independent publishing houses. It is often to these small structures that new authors turn. You could therefore reveal the next Guillaume Musso or Virginie Grimaldi by opening your publishing house.

Opening a publishing house without a diploma, is it possible?

The publishing sector is not regulated in terms of training. Technically, you don’t need a special diploma to open a publishing house. On the other hand, it is a specific sector, which requires specific knowledge. It will then be better to have experience before starting. There are many courses that will prepare you for the world of publishing. We count for example:

  • The DUT “book professions”: you can choose a specialization focused on literature from the second year;
  • The “edition” BTS: focused on the production of books;
  • A professional license : on book trades;
  • A specialized master: which will provide you with more technical knowledge;
  • Continuing education: or work-study, which allows you to acquire real experience.

The publishing sector is a fairly saturated environment, and following training to broaden your knowledge will be a real added value that will allow you to know the challenges of the profession and therefore to better prepare for the opening of your publishing house.

Which regulations to open a publishing house?

Good to knowThe publishing industry is, as we said, very unregulated. The only regulation you need to know concerns the Lang law of 1982. It stipulates that the price of a book must be unique in France, and it is fixed by the publisher.

This law was put in place with the aim of avoiding a certain competition on the selling price and favoring small structures over large distributors. However, a seller is allowed to offer a discount of up to 5% of the price of the book.  

What formalities to open a publishing house?

Choose a legal status 

The creation of your independent publishing house implies the choice of a legal status. This step, often dreaded by professionals who are embarking on independence for the first time, must be meticulously studied in order to avoid all the inconvenience caused by the choice of the wrong legal structure.

To know which legal status to choose , we invite you to read the specificities of each status and understand the issues. You will then be able to know which structure of the EURL, the SASU, the SAS or even the SARL would be the most appropriate for your project.

Accomplish the creative process

The logical consequence of the choice of legal status will be the creation of your company. There are dedicated legal platforms on which you can carry out all the business creation procedures . Some even offer discounts right now, allowing you to set up your business quickly and cheaply (see our Legalstart promotional codes or discounts on Contract Factory for example).

You can also move towards a more traditional method by calling on a lawyer or a legal professional.

Open a publishing house in 4 steps

1 – Study the market

One of the key steps in this project is to carry out relevant market research. It will allow you to find out about the competition in this sector. A market study also allows you to think about your target clientele, and to adapt your project accordingly. We advise you to define an editorial line and start by targeting a specific clientele. In this way, you will attract and satisfy more customers from the start.

Do not hesitate to question your entourage to have a more objective opinion and to be able to adapt your project so that it best meets the needs of your target clientele.

2 – Work on the financial part

The market study carried out before will be useful to you in the development of your business plan. This step will allow you to make your publishing house project a reality, but above all to study its profitability.

A business plan is indeed a document composed of two parts: an explanatory part of the project and a purely financial part. This will allow you to view all the expenses you will have to incur for the launch of your project, related to:

  • Printing: you will need to ensure the reliability of your printer, but also the quality of its services. As an independent publisher, your products must be irreproachable, both in spelling and in the quality of the books themselves.
  • Distribution in bookstores : this must be studied in detail and you will have to ensure that you send the right books to the relevant bookstores. Be aware that booksellers have a right of return for unsold books which can generate many costs, it is better to avoid this.
  • Promotion : this is an essential step when releasing a book. The book won’t be a success if you don’t promote it. The financial cost will depend on the channels you use to communicate about a book. You must use different distribution channels in order to reach your target: signing sessions, fairs, cultural events, use of social networks (especially Facebook groups of reading enthusiasts)…

Carrying out this business plan is very important for the rest of your project, so you must take care to do it carefully. A good business plan is an asset to convince potential investors.

3 – Find authors

Now is the time to find authors. Refer to your editorial line when looking for your first authors, in order to offer coherent works for your target clientele. Start by announcing your activity to those around you. Word of mouth is very effective in this environment, and information will circulate easily.

You can also create pages on social networks, especially on Facebook and make yourself known on pages bringing together literature lovers.

Finally, don’t forget that there are many events focused on literature, and that they represent a perfect opportunity to find authors. You can then present your project to them in person. Finding authors is not difficult. Many authors seek to publish their works, you just have to be the first to contact them.

4 – Choose the right tools and services

Thereafter, you will have to choose the right solutions to manage your publishing house. At a minimum, you will need accounting software or an accountant, or even both. The bank account in a professional bank is mandatory (but much cheaper than a few years ago). You will also need one or more pro insurances, in particular to cover your premises but also your civil liability. We advise you to take a look at our different comparisons.

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