Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Publishing Business in the United Kingdom

Understanding the significance of traditional and new media is critical when starting a publishing business. The creation and expanded use of the internet and electronic media have considerably broadened publication scope in recent years. Worldwide, various websites, emails, computer games and software, and blogs are becoming popular, resulting in lesser physical book sales. Also, the availability of digital tools has refined the sector considerably.

The innovations in the publishing sector do have some benefits. Many authors start their own publishing companies to self-publish. It used to be a costly process, but owing to the internet and low-cost publishing options, it is now more accessible. While there are certain start-up costs, a small publishing house is a relatively low-cost option for publishing industry entry. Venture on the Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Publishing Business in the United Kingdom!


What is a Publishing Business?

A traditional publishing house is a corporation that generates and distributes printed works, such as children’s books, novels, cookbooks, and periodicals. Print media, such as books, newspapers, and physical music, such as CDs, are examples of traditional media. On the other hand, new media transforms the medium into a digital platform. Websites, blogs, movies, and sound files, among other things, are the emerging forms of mass publication.

Commissioning, production, and marketing of material are all part of the publishing activity or trade by publishers. This database for book publishers includes books in various media, including hardback, paperback, digital, and audiobook. Starting a publishing business is a significant expenditure and requires a guide to company registration. Industrial printing presses are costly and finding editors, marketers, and distributors were no easy task.


Starting a Publishing Business in the United Kingdom: An Overview

The United Kingdom is the world’s great book exporter. According to the International Publishers Association, the UK publishing industry has a turnover of £6 billion, with export income accounting for around 60% of revenue. The sector combines conventional print with new digital production frontiers, bringing together long-held principles of truth and excellence. Literary agents, printers, booksellers, distributors, data managers, festival bookers, and libraries are just a few organizations for publisher collaboration.

Anyone who writes or posts videos might be called a publisher. Small enterprises and freelancers can supply large publishing and broadcasting companies in both areas. United Kingdom publishing and broadcasting industries are renowned for fine grade quality and innovation. Publishing as a business is a significant undertaking that, if done right, may yield substantial returns on investment.


Company Registration Process for Starting a Publishing Business

If the VAT taxable revenue exceeds £85,000, you must register your business with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). You will get a VAT registration certificate after you’ve registered. It validates your VAT number, as well as the date on which you must submit your first VAT return and payment. If the revenue is less than £85,000, you can register voluntarily. The business may be able to recover VAT on purchases made before registration.

What you need to do to get started is to get familiar with company incorporation practices in the United Kingdom. Sole trader, limited company, and partnership are the most common business structures in the UK.

Sole Trader

You must register as a single trader if you earned more than £1,000 as a self-employed individual between April 6, 2020, and April 5, 2021. To qualify for Tax-Free Childcare, your company must demonstrate that you are self-employed. Moreover, you need to pay for the Voluntary Class 2 National Insurance to receive benefits.

The company must inform HMRC that it will be paying tax through self-assessment. In such cases, businesses need to keep account of their revenue and spending and file an annual Self Assessment tax return. Profits are subject to income tax, as well as national insurance classes 2 and 4. Additionally, if you’re relocating to the UK to start a business, you’ll need to apply for a National Insurance number.

You have the option of doing business under your name or using a different name. Your name does not have to be registered. On formal papers, you must mention both your name and your company’s name. Limited, Ltd, limited liability partnership, LLP, public limited company, or plc are not allowed in the name; nor must they be offensive or identical to a trademark.

Limited Company

If you’re starting a private limited company, you’ll need to select a name. Your name cannot be the same as that of another registered business and finish in Limited or Ltd. If your firm is a registered charity or limited by guarantee and articles of association, you do not need to mention limited in your name. Unless you have permission, it cannot contain a sensitive phrase or term or indicate a relationship with the government or municipal authorities.

A company secretary and a director are needed. You also need at least one shareholder or guarantor. A shareholder can also be the director. Furthermore, You’ll need to draft a memorandum of association and articles of incorporation and select persons who will have substantial power over the company. You’ll need to pick a SIC code and establish an official address.


The earnings of the firm among the partners are split, and everyone pays tax on their portion. When you form a business partnership, you’ll need a designated partner to handle the firm’s tax filings and keep track of its finances. The process of limited partnership naming is identical to that of a sole trader. It needs HM Revenue and Customs Service (HMRC) registration.

Limited partnerships and limited liability partnerships have various restrictions (LLPs). Limited partnerships must have at least one general partner and one limited partner. For any debts the firm can’t pay, general and limited partners have distinct roles and levels of accountability. You’ll need a name and a registered address, also known as your primary place of business.

A limited liability partnership (LLP) is a group of two or more people who manage a business together. An individual or a company, known as a corporate member, can be a member. The procedure of naming a limited partnership is the same as a limited company. A publicly accessible registered address, at least two designated members, and an LLP agreement outlining LLP operation are needed.

To register a limited partnership, a downloaded application to register a limited partnership is necessary. All of the partners must sign the document. A mail with a £20 fee in the form of a cheque or a postal order made payable needs to be sent to Companies House. Companies House will usually register your limited partnership within five days of receiving your application.


Business Licences and Permits

You will need the following licences for starting a publishing business in the United Kingdom:

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

You may apply for an ISSN online (UK serial publications). The assignment of an ISSN number is free of cost. Publishers, including those that need to create a barcode, utilize ISSN to identify their serial publications. The ISSN, being a unique identification number for the title, identifies the serial when the barcoding system for serials.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property protection helps you prevent others from stealing or duplicating your product names or trademarks, ideas, the design or appearance of your items, and the things you write, develop, or produce. You must apply for copyright, patents, design, and trademarks, among other sorts of intellectual property protection.

Copyright Licensing Agency Licence

Copyright Licensing Agency licence is a requirement if you represent a corporation, a government agency, or an educational institution and wish to make copies of copyright-protected materials. Photocopying, faxing, scanning, and emailing are all examples of making copies. You might be subject to prosecution if you copyrighted content without a license. If you don’t pay the licensing price or don’t follow the license’s terms, the CLA might suspend or terminate your license.

NLA Media Access Limited business license

It is for making copies of newspaper articles for internal use in a business. Annual rates include a base license price depending on the total number of workers or turnover and additional fees for frequent paper and digital copying. The Limitation Act of 1980* allows NLA to recover license costs for a maximum of six years of past unlawful copying. It is comprehensive indemnification since it covers all of your company’s copying.

The most pressing problem in the publishing sector is the legal ramifications of a regulatory violation. Although it is a strictly regulated industry, it has proven to be a challenging venture. Copyright, theft, and even national security are all concerns raised under the Official Secrets Act. As a publisher, you must be familiar with copyright and plagiarism laws, as well as what constitutes libellous and defamatory words.

You’ll also need to make sure all of your licenses and permissions are up to date, and you can look for them on the government’s website. There are several collective licensing authorities in the United Kingdom as well. The Publishers’ Licensing Services (PLA) and the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), for example, give blanket rights to utilize their members’ work.


How to Grow Publishing Business in the United Kingdom?

A business plan can assist in determining the path you want to take for growth. Before forming a limited company, if you are alone, you might want to start as a sole trader. 3E Accounting is a business consulting firm that can help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of various business structures. A corporate service provider can save you a great deal of time and money.

A well-designed website, a bank account, and secure e-payment gateways are all requirements for a publishing business. Contracts with independent authors, editors, musicians, suppliers, and others are necessary. You’ll also need to calculate royalties and fees, apply for distribution rights, and purchase an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), among other things. You can contact 3E Accounting for convenient company formation services.