Posted by: Jun 16, 2023

starting a publishing company in Texas

Many authors are turning to smaller publishing companies to stand out in a sea of self-publishing. This is especially true in Texas, which has the third-highest number of book publishers of any state. Whether you’re looking to publish your work or other people’s work, if you’re wondering how to start a publishing company in Texas, you’ve come to the right place.

Starting a publishing company in Texas requires you to take several steps to legally establish your business and get it up and running. An experienced attorney can help you through each step. Contact The Curley Law Firm today.

Make a Business Plan

The first part of starting a Texas publishing company is forming a business plan. A solid business plan often makes the difference between a successful business and an unsuccessful one. It all starts with deciding what kind of business you want.

Ask yourself:

  • Will I publish my writing, other authors’ works, or a mix? 
  • What types of writing do I want to publish? 
  • In what format do I want to publish? 
  • How much do I want to publish per year? 

If you can confidently answer these questions, you’re well on your way to starting your Texas publishing company.

Select a Business Structure

Once you’ve defined what you want to do with your publishing company, it’s time to decide how to structure your business. Options include:

  • Limited liability company (LLC),
  • Corporation,
  • Partnership, and
  • Sole proprietorship.

Different structures offer different tax treatment, liability, maintenance costs, and legal rights and responsibilities. Depending on the business structure you choose, you may need to register your business with the state before you can start operating.

An experienced business attorney can help you decide which structure best meets your needs and help you fulfill any state filing requirements.

Choose Your Business Name and Location

Choosing what to name your business can be a daunting task. You want something memorable that conveys what your business is about and looks good in print. It must also follow specific rules, including being unique and using only permitted characters and words. 

It’s important to check with your state to make sure the business name you want isn’t already being used by another entity. An attorney can help you conduct a business name search to determine whether your desired name is available.

If you have a registered business, you will need to provide the state with a physical business address. Be aware that the address will become publicly associated with your business. 

Find a Registered Agent  

If you use a business structure that requires you to register with the state, you will also need to designate a registered agent before starting a publishing company in Texas. 

Your agent is responsible for receiving legal documents and notices from the state for your business. Your registered agent must have a physical address in the state—not a PO box. You may personally serve as your business’s registered agent, but you can also hire a registered agent service.

If Required, Register Your Business

If you form a corporation, LLC, limited partnership (LP), or limited liability partnership (LLP), you must file your registration paperwork with the Texas Secretary of State. Depending on your business structure, you may also need to file regular business reports. The Secretary of State strongly encourages filing through the office’s SOSDirect online filing system. Your lawyer can assist you with filing and staying on top of any deadlines.

If you operate as a sole proprietorship or general partnership, you do not need to register your business. However, if you operate under a name not containing the surname of all owners, you will need to file an assumed name, or DBA, certificate with your local county clerk

Obtain an Employer Identification Number

Once you register your business, you may need to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the federal government. The EIN identifies your business for tax purposes. The IRS has six questions to determine whether you need an EIN. Generally, corporations and partnerships need EINs, as do any businesses with employees. A business attorney can advise you in more detail whether you need an EIN.

Open Business Accounts

You’ll also need to set up financial accounts at a financial institution of your choice for money earned and dispersed through the company. Ensure you have a plan for keeping detailed financial records as soon as your business starts operating. 

Determine Whether to Hire Employees or Freelancers

Before you publish, you’ll need to edit, proofread, and format your work. You’ll also need a book cover. You may want to hire employees or freelancers to complete this work. An employee is someone you regularly pay and provide work to, while a freelancer may only work on individual projects. A business attorney can help you determine whether employees or freelancers are right for your business and ensure that you comply with tax reporting requirements for both.

Decide Whether to Register Copyrights 

As soon as a work is written, the author has an enforceable copyright in it. However, registering a copyright with the federal government provides additional protection, including up to $150,000 in damages and a clear legal record of ownership. It also costs $90 per copyright, a potentially significant cost for your work. Note that if you’re publishing others’ work, it’s often expected that you’ll copyright the work on the author’s behalf. 

Set Up Contracts

Another important step is to set up contracts. These can include agreements with printing companies or online ebook distributors. Additionally, if you’re publishing other authors’ works, you’ll need contracts establishing the rights and responsibilities of the author and the company. You want to ensure that you’re getting the best deal possible while also being fair to the author to encourage them to publish with you instead of someone else. An experienced business attorney can ensure all your contracts are fair and beneficial to you.

Final Steps

With your works ready and contracts signed, you can finally start publishing. Before the books are out the door, purchase International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) and barcodes for any books you want in stores and libraries. Once your book is in someone’s hands, you’re the expert on how to start a publishing company in Texas. 

The Curley Law Firm Can Help

If you have questions about how to start a Texas publishing company or need help navigating the process, reach out to The Curley Law Firm today. We have years of experience helping businesses get started successfully. We can guide you through the process and ensure you have what you need to get your publishing business up and running.