Successful Self-Publishing: Assignment #4

The reading assignment for this week was on Branding your Business. It gets a little bit confusing, because technically, as a self-publisher, you have your “author” brand and your “imprint” brand. The imprint brand is the publishing name you have to come up with when you publish your book.

Writer’s Digest has an online community originated by Linton Robinson about self-publishing. Linton has provided clear and fairly comprehensive information in the discussions on this site. When you get ready to self-publish a book, he says, “Think HARD about the ‘publisher name’ because it might be something you stick with for a long time.””

The Indie Author Guide by April L. Hamilton has a whole chapter on branding, but deals primarily with author branding. In a separate chapter called Author Platform, Hamilton more or less defines branding when she writes, “it’s important to cultivate a signature look across all your promotional materials . . .using the same font(s), color scheme, and graphic elements . . . from your business cards to your website.” She advises letting your website, if you choose to have one, set the signature tone because graphic elements are more limited on the web.

For this assignment we were to write a description of our brand and possible alternatives. I chose to write about consideration of names  for both my imprint and author brands:

I’m intrigued by the prospect of producing books for others beside myself. In particular, I am thinking about the possibility of providing freelance work for my sons and daughter who are industrial and graphic designers.

For my youngest son’s senior-year theatre production, for which he was the crew head, we purchased a full-page ad in the program to honor him (and to donate money to the school’s theatre program). My industrial designer/illustrator son prepared a graphic image for us by combining two photographs we had. My daughter, who is a graphic designer, designed the layout, fonts, etc. I wrote and edited the text. It was a fun collaborative project.

I’d like to keep open the possibility of working with my children again at some point, so I want to keep the name of my business broad enough to go in the direction of illustrations and graphic design in addition to book publishing. I think a good name for this would be Grote Ink.

A backup option could be Grote Books, but that is narrower in scope.

I like the name Grote Ink, because it is a play on words, using ink instead of inc. I also like the nostalgia it could bring to the brand, especially if we use a small inkpot with a fountain pen as a logo. This could imply writing, or drawing.

I like the nostalgia connection because I am most interested in writing memoir or human-interest stories at this point. But I don’t think the nostalgia aspect is so blatant that it would be limiting, if I decided to write a sci-fi thriller.

I realize the ink reference might confuse some people who are looking to purchase ink, and not pages with ink on them bound into a book. I’m willing to live with that, I think.

I checked for “Grote Ink” online and didn’t find anything. I decided to take the advice of the textbook we’re reading and ordered the domain name.

While I was looking around on the web, I also checked out my author name for an author website. Originally I wanted to write under my maiden name and use the author name CM Smith. Unfortunately, there are a lot of CM Smith’s out there on the web and no way to really check on all of them. was not available.

I considered the possibility of using, which was available. I like this choice because I have used the name CMSmith as the author for my blog and as the user name for my gravatar. CMSmith57 is my Twitter name. So I have already started establishing an online presence with this name. I purchased this domain name to hold it, but after thinking it over I decided to abandon it and stick with my own real name.  There are just too many CM Smiths out there, and one of them is an author who I found at

I purchased the domain name for my author website.

Now I have two domain names, for two websites that I need to design, and quite a bit of work ahead of me. But then, you already knew that.

Read Assignment #5

Start at the beginning with Successful Self-Publishing Workshop

17 thoughts on “Successful Self-Publishing: Assignment #4”

    1. Oh gosh. It slipped my mind. It’s the Versatile Blogger Award, for the second time. The first time I went through the whole schmeel you can read it here .

      It’s just a nice way to recognize other bloggers, or a blogging form of a chain letter, whichever perspective you prefer.

      I’m going to try to mention other bloggers as I go. I’d better get with it.

    1. You’re right. I wouldn’t call it easier in terms of the amount of work required, but I would call it easier in terms of the possibility of accomplishing it.

      I originally was going to go the traditional route and try to get an agent, but the more I read, the more I started to believe the odds of that happening on satisfactory timing and in a satisfactory way for me, weren’t that high.

      I really just want to get my book in a form that others who might benefit from reading it, or who would simply like to read it, will have the opportunity.

      I’m not aspiring to be the next Jeanette Walls.

  1. Christine – you might want to consider an LLC instead of an Inc. for your business type. An LLC would allow you to deduct any losses on your personal income tax return. Of course, any profits would be reported there also!

    Have you considered trying a children’s book? That would allow you to work with your children on illustrations and graphic design.

    Ree Drummond recently had a post on Pioneer Woman about writing and illustrating her Charlie book. It was a really good post about the steps to do it. Of course, I have no idea how possible it is to publish a children’s book.

    P.S. Thanks for the compliment on my gravatar. I’m glad it helped you find your way back to my blog.


    1. Thanks for all the suggestions. I probably will go with an LLC. I have thought of doing a children’s book. My son is an aspiring illustrator. I actually wanted to do a personalized book for my grandson, but my illustrator son didn’t have the time to fit it in. Thanks for the link.

  2. Thank you for the informative posts. I need to go through all of your self-publishing posts again. You presented so many important aspects of self-publishing that I haven’t thought through yet.

  3. CM –
    Your posts about the Successful Self-Publishing course turned up in one of my Google Alerts—which you’ve no doubt already read all about in my book! ;’)

    I created the Successful Self Pub course and worksheets, and while I’m not acting as ‘instructor’ for it, I can’t tell you how great it makes me feel to see your posts about the course and find you are receiving the benefits I intended the course to have. It is particularly gratifying to hear that while you are getting an appreciation for the effort involved in successful self-pub, you are also getting a sense of empowerment and excitement about it.

    Yes, running your publishing endeavor like the business it *is* takes considerable time and effort. But I hope you can already see how laying the necessary groundwork and doing the necessary analysis ahead of time will put you miles ahead of the competition. I see far too many indies and would-be indies spinning their wheels, wasting time, money and effort that could be put to much better use, and I’m so happy you feel the course and my book are helping you to avoid those pitfalls. I’ll keep following your progress. =’)

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I was excited when I saw who the message was from. As I’ve mentioned in my posts, your book has been extremely helpful, and will earn a space on my “top shelf”once I finish this immediate project (which likely will be a while).

      Although I haven’t read it yet, I’m glad to see you have a chapter on Editing. That is the thing I am finding most intimidating at the moment. I’m painfully aware of the fact that I don’t have the same experience as an editor who has worked at book publishing companies for eons. (Comma placement is driving me nuts right now.) And since I’m writing a memoir, I have permission concerns as well.

      So much to learn.

  4. CM –
    In my experience and education the comma is one of the most overused pieces of punctuation. Putting aside the more workmanlike uses of the comma (e.g., in addresses, bibliographies, etc.) for the moment, as kids we were taught to stick a comma in anytime we’d want to insert a pause if someone were to read the prose aloud. But since speaking cadences vary and regional/language differences come into play as well, this isn’t such a helpful tip. Consider that I could’ve put more commas in the preceding sentences:

    as kids, we were…

    speaking cadences vary, and…

    I think you can see these commas were not really needed, but many writers would’ve put them in.

    Bottom line: when in doubt, leave the comma out.

  5. I agree. I don’t like reading through a lot of commas. Perhaps in my mind, I think in run-on sentences. 🙂

    Thanks for the perspective. This can all be a bit overwhelming, especially when I start to doubt myself.


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