Non-US Self-Publishers need to register

If you are a self-publisher using Amazon/Kindle or Smashwords and DON’T reside in the USA … LISTEN UP!!

01TrYou must register with the US IRS to find out whether you will need to pay taxes on your book sales or if you are exempt.

This is one of those annoying jobs that is very easy to forget because most of us hate government forms and have a fear of filling them our incorrectly and paying the consequences.

If like us, you reside in Canada where we are apparently (unofficially apparently) exempt from these US taxes, you still must deal with this situation and the sooner the better.

I found this article … a very helpful and well-described blogpost by “Catherine, Decaffinated” … here is the link.

Here’s a sample: She uses the example of an Irish author named David who actually got his EIN within minutes … over the phone!”

Here in part is his tale: “As many of you will know, Amazon and Smashwords are required by law to withhold 30% of the royalties earned by non-US authors until they settle their tax status. The commonly accepted method of doing so was going through the laborious process of getting an International Tax Identification Number (ITIN), which necessitates arcane form-filling, notarized copies of passports, embassy trips, fees, and inexplicable rejection (writers should at least be used to the last part). And indeed, this was the path I was on myself, up until yesterday. Use above link to read the whole story.

Good luck.

‘Lizzie Series’ still popular

LizzieSrs_white bgFans of bestselling Victoria BC author, J. Robert Whittle, who have read his Victoria Chronicles Trilogy and his single novels, often don’t realize he wrote an earlier popular series, Lizzie. Looking for more reading material while they wait for Robert to write another book, many discovered the Lizzie Series set in early 19th century England during the trying and sad years of the Napoleonic Wars. Within 5 years of the arrival of the first book in the Victoria Chronicles, Lizzie was overshadowed by the author’s trilogy full of real local history.  Then with 10 novels out by 2010, thankfully, we saw the beginning of a resurgence in Lizzie’s popularity. In recent years, due to Robert’s health and realizing we had too large a stock of some books, we later temporarily reduced the price to $15 ea. (including GST). Even today, there are many readers who still ask Robert to write more books in the series because they love the antics of the main characters so much.

The Lizzie Series has seen popularity with both adults and teens (or younger), male as well as female). It is also a  little-known fact that the character of Lizzie, a spunky pre-teen, possesses a personality which closely mirrors that of the author as a child when he too, was a young  entrepreneur. Just look into his bright blue eyes and you’ll still see the sparkle of that childhood innocence!!

We are told that first-time authors often write about their own experiences … did this author follow that pattern? Friends and readers who get to know him, will admit that Robert definitely possesses a strong personality, has an answer for everyone, and lets absolutely nothing intimidate him, just like Lizzie … and we still often see whispers of that young-at-heart man in the still-cheeky 83-year-old!

If this sounds like the type of main character you love to read about, then you will love the Lizzie Series. So go and check out Lizzie’s webpage right now before you forget!

* The Lizzie Series is available in paperback on this website, on Amazon, Kindle and in all other ebook formats at  Smashwords.com.

Women are the Power eReaders

chart-of-the-day-women-gadgets-aug-2011I found this very interesting article today … entitled:  “Who Loves E-Readers? Your Mom?” The link is now paid content (Aug/15) but the gist of it was that more women over 55 are using ereaders than men or any other age group of women.This fascinated me and I couldn’t resist reading it. I also have some knowledge of the subject because I am one of those female power readers. It seems that, “A new study from Nielsen finds that 61 percent of e-reader owners are now female, compared to 46 percent in the third quarter of 2010. And, the company says, 30 percent of e-reader owners are over the age of 55.”

Ever since I purchased my first ereader, I have found myself recommending them to women at shows where we sell our own books. Three years ago (or was it four!) I was eager to get our books onto Amazon’s Kindle ebook format. Soon after, I discovered Smashwords which allowed us to cover all the ebook formats. This put us ahead of many of the self-published authors in joining the new technology. By Christmas 2012, Robert and I had 3 ebook readers between us plus my smartphone. I have not been without reading material again and it was wonderful to find time to read again, even if in small snatches.

When I recommend ereaders, it is usually because they don’t want to buy our print books because they have too many books in their homes and are downsizing or have vision issues. When I explained the benefits of reading ebooks, they were usually amazed. By the end of 2012, many more women had their own ereader or was hoping to receive one that Christmas. I’m thrilled that many of those readers are now purchasing our ebooks and, yes, many of them are older women. If our own ebooks can continue to be available after we retire from markets and craft shows, Robert and I are all for it!

When writing and publishing your own books, keep these stats in mind. If you slant your content to women of this age group this could assist your sales greatly.

‘Till next time.

Joyce Sandilands

Be Precise, Say it Simply: Seven Ways to Avoid Overwriting

This is the title of a blog entry on Goodreads.com by Emily Craven. Emily is a witty, enthusiastic, and talented self-published author from Australia whom I adored the first time I heard her speak. Her talents include writing informative and humourous blogs and being the author of fantasy and YA fiction.

Thanks Emily.

Emily’s Blog
Emily’s Books

See you next time.
Joyce

 

NB: previously posted at joycesandilands.com

What is happening to eBooks?

Smashwords - Ebooks in ALL formats Kindle - Ebooks
What is happening to eBooks?

 

– Apparently, they are selling more ebooks at Amazon than paper books – not surprising when you hear that they have made a special arrangement with authors to offer their books FREE for 5 days within a 90 day period. Yes, Amazon has put a special pot of 600,000 together for their latest play to get authors on this program … all at the expense of a possible loss of sales to all other ebook stores online.

– Amazing apps are becoming available that make ebooks interactive … not just kid’s books but adult books too, complete with the sound of railways and screams in the proper places. Pretty cool if you ask me!

In case you didn’t know, all books by J. Robert Whittle and Joyce Sandilands are available in all formats as ebooks.

Using Drop Caps in your ePub and Kindle eBooks

I just discovered the Tips website of fellow member of LinkedIn and wanted to share … how to go that extra mile in formatting your book for ePub and Kindle. I have not tried this yet, but I’ve thought about it often and seen many old ebooks with this feature not working! I use MSWord so it may be a challenge. I’ll keep you posted 🙂  Link for Drop Caps Also check out Marks’s website for other great tips. I’ve registered to “follow” him so I don’t miss anything! An additional tip on same subject from Cathryn Isakson on LinkedIn: “If you fiddle around with the font size in the dropcap definition, you can get the baseline of the dropcap to align with the baseline of your paragraph text. In my last ebook, I also added a subtle colour to the dropcap and it came up well.”

How to format eBook Images in ePub

Ah, the joy of it! We were having endless problems formatting our kids chapter books into ePub format with Smashwords. Today it was solved thanks to the very detailed tips by Paul Salvette. We had gotten so frustrated we had given up, but today I did a search for the issue and found Paul’s website. Now, thankfully, all is right with the world!

One of our issues has been no Table of Contents showing up,
another was text changing formatting and some of illustrations not appearing.

We thought we had followed Smashwords’ Style Guide explicitly but it still didn’t work.

Thanks Paul, we are in your debt.

Follow his instructions to the exact detail and you should have success too … and this helps a myriad of problems in books without images!!

Good luck.

Marketing Self-Published Novels

This is a handout from a lecture I gave on March 10th, 2012, for 3Penny Publishing in Victoria, BC.

Getting Down To Business for Writers Workshop

Having your own business takes discipline, stamina, and a computer!
For today’s purpose, I’m going to focus mainly on using the computer as the rest is pretty basic, easy to look up, and you’ve no doubt heard it all before ie., the accounting and keeping track of every expenses & your car use etc.

 Marketing a Self-Published Novel

– Non-Fiction has some differences and are often easier to write and sell. ie., can manipulate sales easier to get high rankings from Amazon.com*

First Steps  (in brief)

1.  Write the book!! This may be obviousto you, but to many it is not. Why waste precious time worrying about publishing etc? It could take you 1,2 or 3 years (or more!) and everything changes soo quickly in this industry. Just get busy and do it!!

2.   Experience the Surrey Int. Writer’s Conference held each October in Surrey, BC. You won’t regret it, but unless you can afford to go again I would suggest you at least write a minimum of a few chapters of your book before you go. Read the next paragraph. Writing the first draft would be even more helpful to take advantage of these options at the conference.

Publishers/editors/agents are present to advise you 1-on-1. You hobnob with successful authors such as Diana Gabaldon, Jack Whyte and published authors of all types/genres. Some of these authors/publishers/agents give workshops which are ongoing for 2-3 days … a packed weekend of learning and sharing with other writers and wannabees.

Note: If you don’t find a publisher at the conference – you will most likely need an agent and they are difficult to find. There are lists (online) and books to read but the easiest way may be to talk to authors who write books similar to yours, Or read the Acknowledgements in a recently published book for the name of their agent. Lots of info on the web. Be aware … it may drown you. At this workshop, we were told that there are so few Canadian Agents they are too busy already … and very little opportunity for first-time authors! Now I hear the same is also true in the USA.

3.  Research how to publish but don’t commit to anything too early! Your choices are: (a) POD (Caution: they charge via ‘packages.’ Do your research.’), (b) Indie or Self Publish with print books (like we did), or (c) Start with an eBook (there’s no guarantee of how a print book will do).

One of many great info websites/blogs:  http://allindiepublishing.com/

4.  Do I need a ISBN/CIP?  Yes, they’re needed for bookstores and libraries and free in Canada. They’re easy to get, so IMO cover all your bases from square one!  http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/publishers/index-e.html/

5Bookstores – (a) Local independent stores may/may not carry self-published books. May depend on subject matter, space availability, subject matter, your popularity from current marketing. (40% comm. is usual). They may list your book online. Talk to them before you finish writing. * invaluable for info: Check out format of books like yours (font, pitch, spacing, title pages) and copy it; the clerk may be an author and will gladly share info with you. *Realize that bookstores have expensive real estate and they must feel your book will be worth having to monopolize this space.

(b)   Chainstores (local or online)  – Chapters/Indigo, Amazon.com, big boxstores (Walmart) etc. take a larger commission (@ 55-65% commission and you probably need a distributor as well (for an additional 15% or so).

(c)  On-line bookstores – some have their own publishing arm ie., Amazon. Research. Ask around.

6.   Join a Canadian/USA/International Indie-publishing association. Some are co-ops. Fees apply.

Watch Rebecca Kennel’s 2010 lecture from an earlier 3 Penny Publishing Workshop. It’s excellent.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvcEMuWwNbc&list=UU90woABSqDsHGN7HkzaNFXA&index=3&feature=plcp


Marketing – Local

Now is the time to start work on a Business Plan and Budget for marketing expenses.

  • Book Clubs – offer to lecture and/or give a discount. Libraries may buy 10 books.
  • Join a Writer’s Group(s) – they offer critique – tap into their knowledge and support.
  • Libraries – Talk to them about carrying your books and give a lecture.
  • Lecture to schools and service clubs ie., Rotary, Lions  Non-fiction? Local college, Rec. Centre.
  • Farmer’s and outdoor Markets – books allowed, we were possibly the first to do this in many areas (’99).

Table fees range from $20/day for outdoor, ‘Farmer’s markets’ also have membership fees. Sidney Thurs. Night Market ($45) Don’t be fooled – many come to merely browse, walk dogs & enjoy the ambiance!

  • Craft Shows – rarity not to allow books.
    Outdoor
    ie., local parks during band concerts/special events. ($25 and up) Works better if your book is small when combined with another event ie., car show, agricultural/trade show;  Indoor @ Christmas etc. (usually $100/day and up)
  • Specialty stores – ie., Butchart’s for garden-related, gift stores, etc. Best for Non-Fiction

Marketing – Internet

1.  Get your own website – check out different service providers prices, ask friends for advice. We use www.hostutopia.com with great success – not expensive @ $5.95/mo. The cost is if you have to hire someone. Consider a WordPress Blog – so popular now and a lot easier than the regular format. www.wordpress.com more options than www.blogspot.com We also have: www.bestsellingbooks.ca

2.  Sell your book through your website using Paypal or Clickbank etc. We use Paypal and they now have a shipping component direct from customer’s order – no more waiting in line at the Post Office.

3.  Make an eBook:  eBooks are hugely popular now and ours are available in all formats. We use www.Amazon.com (Kindle format) and www.Smashwords.com

Smashwords supplies ALL the formats necessary for ALL readers for FREE. This gets you on Kobo, Sony, iPad, Kindle, iPod, etc. It can be tricky or simple and using MSWord works the best. Images can also be tricky. Smashwords has promotions and coupons for discounting books to friends/media or promotion.

Our Kindle sales have almost disappeared since they started their KDP* program for authors. Kindle also have a bit more complicated payout system (+ less commission) for Canadians but this is improving slowly. * Presently, they are giving away tons of ebooks under the KDP program. Goodreads.com  has a long thread on their author’s experiences @ http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/760122-any-authors-in-the-kdp-select-program?page=1  (a must read – scroll down for most recent). I am now considering trying this program for one or two books.

 4.  Smartphones: Generate your own website/Facebook/Twitter barcode @ http://qrcode.kaywa.com/  post it on your website, on your book info handout, your poster etc. Any Smartphone can read it with the ‘Qr Barcode’ App.  Open the App and it will use your camera App …  you merely hold your phone close to the barcode as if you’re taking a photo of it. Once it’s a photo it will ask you to open the website or whatever.  Great for seminars/workshops/trade shows etc.

 

More useful links:
http://www.go-publish-yourself.com
http://www.spannet.org
http://www.canadianauthors.org/national
http://voices.yahoo.com/tips-market-self-published-novel-locally-2889491.html?cat=3