Many authors use services like Kindle and CreateSpace to self-publish books because it’s quick, easy and cost effective – and it means anyone can be a “published author”. (Whether anyone should be is a topic for another post!) But there are 3 things every self-publishing author should know about …. So here we go:
1. Submitting your book to The British Library (or your country’s national library)
The British Library holds a copy of every book ever published in the UK (allegedly). Under a law called “legal deposit” authors are obliged to send them a copy within a month of publication. There are also five other libraries who you can deposit copies with, and if they request a copy within 12 months of publication you are obliged to send it.
The British Library copy needs to be sent to: Legal Deposit Office, The British Library, Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7BY. Include a cover letter requesting they add your book and include the publication date along with your name and address, so they can send you an acknowledgement.
If your book has been out for more than a month but you haven’t yet sent The British Library their copy then don’t panic … I doubt they will send the police after you, but you definitely need to send them a copy asap. The Legal Deposit Libraries Act does have an enforcement clause that says basically if you don’t send a copy they can instruct a court to tell you to send one … so I don’t think they can take any action if you send one a bit late!)
The law only applies to printed books. You may submit e-books if you wish, but there is no legal obligation for you to do so at present.
For more info see The British Library website.
The above information applies to books published in the UK. However, most countries have some sort of legal deposit laws. For an overview see the Wikipedia entry on this subject.
2. Amazon US tax withholding
OK the second thing applies to “overseas” (i.e. non-US) authors publishing via Amazon (whether on Kindle via CreateSpace). Because Amazon, an American company, is the “official” publisher they have a legal obligation to withhold 30% of any royalties due to you to pass on to the IRS (American tax office) … but ONLY on any royalties that come through sales on the Amazon.com website.
If the vast majority of your sales are via Amazon UK or any of the European stores (.de, .fr etc) and you rarely or never make any sales on Amazon.com then you needn’t really worry about this – you will lose 30% of royalties on .com sales but if you aren’t making any anyway then you’re not really losing anything.
If, however, you regularly make sales via Amazon.com then you can tell Amazon not to withhold any of your royalties by completing some paperwork to prove you are a current taxpayer in a country outside the US. The easiest way to do this is to phone the IRS (via Skype using a headset is good and inexpensive), get a tax number from them and then send it in a letter to CreateSpace and/or Kindle. You can find a really useful guide to doing this by clicking here. I did this myself and it really isn’t a difficult process 🙂
Remember, you only need to do this if you make a reasonable number of sales through Amazon.com … not if your sales are all from the UK or European sites.
However, if you publish via Smashwords then you need to do this, too – regardless of where sales are made.
3. Amazon Author Central
The final thing I wanted to mention is not essential but it can be a nice marketing tool for you – and that’s setting up an Amazon Author Central account. When someone sees your book on Amazon they might well click on the author name to find out more about you. That info is only visible if you have set up an Author Central account, though. It’s free to do and doesn’t take very long. Click here to read my blog post about setting up an Author Central account.
So those are the 3 things every self-publishing author should know about …. if I can help with any advice please get in touch!!