Monday, April 1, 2013

Fun with Publishing

I've been publishing books since August 2012 (if you don't count Stepping Forward, which had been on free release for a while - and I don't.) Since Balor Reborn's release after a week of writing, cover design, trailer design, and all that other fun stuff that accompanies trying to release a book in a week, I've released three other books: Old Gods Returned, Writing Gifts, on a Shoestring, and Planning Before Writing.

Twice, I've had books available for free for a period of three days. The first time was from New Year's Eve, the second time during English week in my college (less than two weeks ago). Unlike every other day checking Kindle sales figures, these free days provided a ton of excitement, because it showed how many people were getting their hands on a book that they perceived to be of value to them for free. Given my lack of credit card, my ability to purchase Kindle books is sorely limited, so I tend to go for the free books quite often, and resort to buying paperbacks, still (since I work in a bookshop and it would be nice to continue working while I'm in college.)

The free promotions provide an idea of what sort of books people look for. However, the real test of Amazon comes in how Kindle Select affects sales.

I'm experimenting with that, now. All four of my books are now enrolled to Kindle Select, with the intention of seeing how beneficial that really is to a book's sales. I'm curious, and I'll be damned if I don't get an answer.

In the meantime, I've been gathering my sales figures since I started publishing. This is partially for my own benefit, to see how many books have sold and when (to help estimate a royalty figure), and partially to determine the benefits of Kindle Select. Plus, I like numbers. I don't know why, but tracking numbers like this is ridiculously exciting to me. (I've drawn up long budgets in the past, using Excel, even though I knew I would ignore them...)

The other side to all of this is what I have to do to make sure I don't get taxed a ridiculous amount on these books by the IRS. Yes, I know taxes are a good thing, but I'd rather pay them to my own government only. So, I have to go through the process of acquiring an ITIN, a process which will take at least eight weeks. So that's fun.

If Kindle Select proves successful, it will have been a good idea to ensure I can only get paid once I reach $/£/€100. As it is, I technically qualify for a direct-to-bank payment. I just don't want to see 30% of that disappear right before my eyes!

Why the honesty? Well, for a start there's no point pretending my books are bestsellers and that I'm raking in money every month from them. But more importantly, other writers (outside of the US) should be aware of the problems with using Amazon that have nothing to do with Amazon. Basically, they're a US company, and have to charge you tax unless you have a number from the IRS to say the tax rate is different for you (0% in some cases, and 5% in Ireland, I think, if I read the appropriate chart correctly).

Hence: check.

The minimum amount an author needs to earn from Amazon to get paid into a bank account is €10 (or £/$). It depends on the currency you trade in (unlike the check...). For a check, it's much higher (see above). Keeping your payment option on check allows you to do the background work in a safer environment to get the most from your royalties. 8 weeks could cover two royalty payments, and if you're a relatively unknown author a larger sum to earn should guarantee you the time you need to get the paperwork cleared before you get taxed heavily.

If you're considering publishing through KDP for the first time, and you live outside the US, I advise you get started on the paperwork as soon as possible. Getting it out of the way means that you're more prepared to earn an income from your book(s) from the get-go, something I wish I'd known back in August last year. Even if you don't foresee a huge earning in the early months, it's better to get things done soon.

Yeah... publishing is fun.

No, seriously. Aside from having to trawl through tax documents to see what's what and look for the appropriate person to help me in the task of getting the paperwork cleared (a Notary Public, to certify a copy of a passport), the actual publishing experience has been enjoyable. I've had full control over what I do through KDP, and I'm excited to see how things go over the next 90 days with all four of my books signed up.

Interested in any of my books? My Author Central page has everything you need to get your hands on them:

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