I'm going indie, and the whole world is wide open. Literally and figuratively! It's very easy to find information about self-publishing for Americans. I've been following blogs on the topic for a couple of years, debating if this was a direction I might end up taking my career. But information for those who live outside the USA has been harder to come by.
Two years ago Barbour released Rainbow's End, which contained a novella of mine. This got me an agent, but no further book deals, though interest in what became my Farm Fresh Romance series was evident. With its environmental and local food themes, my writing wasn't quite mainstream enough to actually reel in a major publisher. In 2013, after releasing my agent, I signed a contract with a new small publishing house. Raspberries and Vinegar and Wild Mint Tea came out before my publisher made the difficult decision to go nonfiction only.
With rights about to revert and more books in my to-publish chain, I've begun the process of self-publishing through Amazon and elsewhere from outside the United States. It seems to me that watching this process might be of interest to many of our readers here at ICFW.
May 29, 2014: Consulted with a local small business expert in British Columbia, Canada. Conducted a search for an appropriate business name ($39.00). Registered the business name GreenWords Media ($40.00) Both fees are one-time.
June 2, 2014: Registered with CISS: Canadian ISBN Service System. I learned that I don't need an ISBN to publish an e-book with Amazon. They assign an ASIN. I will still need this service when I'm ready for the paperback. I must apply in advance.
June 3, 2014: Bought How to Format Your Novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and CreateSpace...in One Afternoon (for Mac) by Ed Ditto. This is THE book to get IF you are on a Mac and use Scrivener. If not, go buy a different book, but I'm not sure which one. I worked through this book with Majai's Fury for 8 hours before getting the compile features set up the way I wanted in Scrivener. Most of that is a one-time set-up. I'll be publishing often enough I shouldn't forget what I need to know. (Fingers crossed!)
June 4, 2014: Got my EIN (Employee Identification Number) from the IRS. It's used to identify a business entity legally doing business in the USA. This can just be you doing business without being a registered business in your own country. This post by Catherine Howard, Non-US Self-Publisher? Tax Issues Don’t Need to be Taxing helped immensely in knowing how to make this phone call to the IRS. It was as easy and painfree as they said. 8 minutes after the call began, I had my number.
This number is vital for anyone who wants to do business within the USA (such as selling Kindle books) and who is a citizen of a country that has a tax treaty with the USA. Find out if your country does here.
June 4, 2014: Consulted with my bank about setting up an account for incoming funds. She advised me not to set up a business account but to use my own name, if possible, and save the flat monthly fee. This may or may not work longterm, and may be different for you.
June 5, 2014: Created an account at Kindle Direct Publishing and filled in their tax information pop-out with the help of a step-by-step screen shot post at EIN for Amazon. Included in this pop-out form is an electronic W-8BEN.
The W-8BEN form is provided by the IRS to allow non-US persons to receive a reduced rate of taxation on any US-sourced income. Without this, the IRS expects Kindle (or other company) to pay them 30% of your income before sending you the remainder. The combination of the EIN and the W-8BEN tell the IRS and the American companies you're dealing with that a) your country has a tax treaty with the USA and b) you will pay income tax on your income at home.
The pop-out form completed, I returned to the main KDP page to fill in my bank account information and then upload my book. However, I got a yellow triangle for my efforts. INVALID: Tax information submitted for your account does not match Internal Revenue Service (IRS) records. Complete your tax information to begin publishing on Amazon.
I went through the pop-out several times, trying to figure out what question I could possibly have answered incorrectly. No amount of tweaking got rid of the message.
June 5, 2014: Sent a message to KDP via the Help Desk, asking for clarification. The response, a few hours later, was that everything within that pop-out is the jurisdiction of the IRS, who either stamps each application as VALID or INVALID without explaining to KDP why.
I uploaded my book and its cover, and set up categories, keywords, pricing, and distribution. Ready to push the "publish" button whenever my account is cleared for action.
June 6, 2014: Phoned the IRS to determine the cause of the invalid message. I provided the nice lady with my EIN number, issued two days prior, and she said that it showed on her computer as pending. When I said the other lady had said it was effective immediately, she concurred, adding that would be for paper submissions. Electronically, it takes a week or two to grind through the system. It would have been nice to have this information earlier!
June 18, 2014 Still waiting for my EIN number to stop pending and start working! Moral of the story? Start the process well in advance!
Here is Going Indie Internationally Part TWO
Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her stories. Her debut novel, Raspberries and Vinegar: A Farm Fresh Romance, was awarded Best Contemporary Romance published in 2013 by The Word Guild Awards. It is currently on sale for Kindle for 99¢