Today my guest is Dave Landry, Dave contacted me a few weeks ago and asked to be considered as a guest on the blog, here’s how Dave introduced himself; “I’ve ghost written dozens of articles and am just venturing out as a freelancer. I would love this opportunity to gain exposure for my work. I specialize in finance and debt management but can cover a wide variety of issues.” Not the usual subject matter we have here on the blog, but after a few discussions we came up with a plan and Dave has written a piece for us. Let us know what you think.
Is Self-Publishing in the UK Difficult?
The internet has become a revolutionary resource for authors around the world; allowing them to bypass traditional publishing houses and self-publish their own material in the form of e-books or affordable book printing companies. This is a very liberating advantage to an author, giving them total control of their work and the empowerment to publish their own effort in a variety of forms, without having to adhere to strict guidelines from publishing houses.
However, the process can be difficult in the United Kingdom. Amazon is one of the key sites that authors use to self-publish e-books but it is becoming complicated and rife with policies that make it hard to publish, gain royalties, and gift books to friends and reviewers. Along with that, one of Amazon’s e-book competitors in the United Kingdom have recently ceased self-publishing activity.
Here are some of the basic problems in regards to self-publishing in the UK, along with some alternatives:
Advantages and Issues with Amazon
courtesy of Amazon.com
Amazon is the largest site for independent authors self-publishing their work into ebook format through the Kindle. However, there are many problems with Amazon that make it difficult for an author to self-publish their work.
Producing an e-book on the site has many advantages including global distribution, 5-minute publishing times, a “70% royalty,” the option to make changes to your book at any time, and publishing to Kindle devices and free Kindle apps. These benefits make Amazon the lead network for self-publishing on the e-book format in the United Kingdom, a format where over 11% of the sales are from self-published authors.
There are a number of disadvantages though making it harder for authors to publish and to share their works. One of the major issues with independent authors publishing books for Amazon’s Kindle site is with the alleged “seventy percent royalty.” This applies solely for books with a cover price between £1.98 and £6.60 ($2.99 to $9.99). If the price of the book is above or below that amount, authors only receive 35% of the royalties. This rule is apparently made so authors can keep their price down but as The Telegraph pointed out this prevents authors from making a modest income. Another problem with royalties is that an author has to clear £10.00 of royalty sales before the site deposits them their profits (in Australia, Amazon doesn’t offer direct deposit and will only send checks after $100 of sales have been made). Royalties are only paid out after 60 days have passed since the calendar month the sales were made in. So after a £10 minimum is reached, the author must wait 60 days to receive the royalties. This applies to each site, making marketing internationally difficult for the authors.
On top of this is the issue with taxing. All royalties are taxed doubly: authors are taxed from their local tax offices based on any income from sales, on top of a 30% tax from Amazon (since Amazon is an American company, all authors are taxed through the IRS as a foreign entity). This decreases the income an author receives greatly. The second Taxation in the US can be avoided by an arduous process involving calling the IRS to obtain an EIN, as author David Gaughran explains here.
Lastly there is disadvantage in regards to the “gifting” option. Gifting allows an author to share their work with reviewers or friends. However for Amazon.co.uk, you cannot simply “gift” the book to another user. There is no option for this. Instead, users can create a customized gift card with the name and cover photo of the book. While, this is a way around the gifting option it is not as convenient, especially since gift certificates from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk are not interchangeable.
The Self-Publishing Shutdown
Since there are so many disadvantages with Amazon, perhaps self-publishing an ebook from another site would be the best option. However, Amazon’s UK ebook competitors such as Kobo and their site WH Smith, have recently gone offline due to complaints on the content from some self-publishers as reported by The Guardian. With censorship becoming an issue in the United Kingdom in regards to e-books, burgeoning self-publishing platforms are now on hold while site managers are reviewing content.
Yet there are some alternatives for self-publishing in the UK, if Amazon’s policies and issues with WH Smith are not welcoming to independent authors. There is Smashwords, which is a global distributor of e-books. Through the site, an author can sell their works on a variety of other sites like Amazon or Barnes and Nobles with minimal legwork. Smashwords also offers easy to use codes to “gift” free books to readers but their taxing policies are the same as Amazon’s.
Courtesy of Lulu.com
Another option is self-publishing physical copies of books through companies like Lulu. These sites offer discounted rates for bulk copies of a self-published work. At a minimal price and available in 15 different sizes and a variety of paper quality, Lulu seems to be an interesting alternative for the self-publisher, especially since it does offer the ability to publish e-books, or sell your physical copies on sites like Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
The ability to self-publish in itself is very liberating but it does seem that in order to have this opportunity, authors in the United Kingdom must abide by a variety of rules and regulations in order to get their work published without having to go through the tenuous task of finding a publishing house that would publish their work.
Thank you Dave,
Dave Landry is a financial adviser who frequently contributes to National Debt Relief to provide support to anyone going through bankruptcy or a financially difficult time. Dave is also an aspiring writer located in the US who has recently taken to researching self-publication and e-books in order to get his content out on the market faster and was appalled by some of the policies he found in the UK, hence the basis for this article. He wishes you luck in your publishing endeavours and hopes that this article helps you in some way!