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

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