Can Everton Jones find out how his father stole Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds and, more importantly, where he hid them; before the world and his brother get there first?
Click on the picture link in the sidebar to read an extract of my first novel, which was published by Paradise Press in August 2012.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The need for a distributor.

My e-book is doing well on the KindleStore. Along with Elizabeth LIster’s two e-books these three titles ammount to more than a quarter of Paradise Press sales by voilume. I even sold an e-book in Germany and am selling well on amazon.com (well, by my standards, anyway).

But therein lies a further problem. Firstly I was looking at the FAQs on the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing website. There was something which said ‘Important tax information for non-US taxpayers’. I clicked on the link. Damn me, it said they had to pay 30% of my NET royalties to the Internal revenue. That’s 70% of 70%, which, to my reckoning is 49% royalty. Not good. They said I needed a US ‘Employer Identification Number’ (EIN), in other words a taxation identity, and then I would be able to send them a form asking for the 30% ‘withholding tax’ to be waived under a reciprocal tax treaty fortuitously in place between the UK and the US. To get this EIN I had to put myself on hold with the tax office in the USA for 30 minutes (luckily I have skype) and then they issued a number verbally down the phone. The letter confirming this arrived six weeks later. I then sent another form to Amazon and they have now confirmed that the withholding tax rate on the Paradise Press account is set to zero. Phew! that was close!

Then just when can I expect to get paid for the sales I have achieved. Not any time soon, it turns out. That sale on amazon’s German website, for example, might NEVER get paid. They won’ pay out until the net royalties exceed 10Euros. So until I sell two more books in Germany they will sit on the proceeds FOREVER. And then they will only pay out sixty days after the END of the month in which the net royalty exceeded 10 Euros. Al least they pay directly into my bank account. It’s even worse for the USA.

In the USA, they won’t pay until the net royalty exceeds $100. And then, to my utmost astonishment, the put a dollar cheque drawn on an American bank in the post. I enquired at the bank, and was told I would have to get them to ‘negotiate’ the cheque, which would cost about £8 and, no dounbt, wouldn’t exactly be at the most favourable exchange rate. Fortunately the total Paradise Press sales on Amazon’s US site just went over $100 for the first time at the end of November and we are expecting the first cheque to be put in the post at the end of January.

And this brings me to distribution. By having by now NINE e-books by Paradise Press on sale on the Kindle Store we are pooling our sales and achieving the $100 payment threshold earlier than we would if our books were being sold by each author separately. Epub sales (the format for all the other e-readers except the Kindle), have been very poor. And no surprise, to get one you need to look on the Paradise Press website. If you have an iPad, you would go to the Apple iBookstore. And, guess what? To get onto there you need a US tax number, US bank account, credit card AND address. The only way to achieve that is by using the services of an ‘aggregator’ or distributor in plain English. And that, I realised, was a massive advantage. Quite apart from being the only way to get onto key places like the Apple iBookstore or the Barnes & Nobel Nook store, the distributor has just one account with apple etc. as well as all the others and so would be paying out to us when our TOTAL net proceeds from ALL the bookshops they sell our e-books in exceeded £10 and they would obviously get a better exchange rate than we could hope to achieve. We can look forward to more frequent payments and more sales of epub e-books.

So I investigated the various aggregators. Most offer a full service and 100% of the funds received from the bookshops, but at a price. They mostly want a flat annual fee and money upfront. With low sales volumes this is not a nice prospect. I found a French company who wanted 10% of the proceeds from each book, but no maintainence fees or set-up fees to pay. But they can’ get books onto Apple, or sell Kindles in Europe, so they were out. Finally I found an alternative, in the unlikely form of Troubador, who own ‘Matador’ an imprint for self-published authors but who seem to be getting into e-books big time. They want 15%, but that’s a fair price and they don’t want anything else. I signed us up, but have spotted a catch, their account is in THEIR name, and the Nook store listing for my e-book says it is published by Troubador, NOT Paradise Press. Well, that’s something else to try and sort out.

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