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Physical Book Publishing > Advice on making my self-publishing course rock

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message 1: by Helen (new)

Helen Cox | 6 comments Hi all,

I'm teaching a course on self-publishing in a few weeks at City Lit college in London and understandably, I want it to ROCK.

I would really value your thoughts on what kind of help / guidance would you / would you have appreciated on a course like this? If there's anything you think I can do to enhance the student experience I'd love to hear about it.

So far I'm going to cover:

- Key writing considerations for your chosen genre.
- Finding your audience.
- The role of research.
- The role of beta readers.
- Using feedback to hone your work.
- The editing process.
- Platforms for promotion.
- Budgetery considerations.
- Effective marketing.

Thanks in advance for your help / guidance / feedback.


message 2: by E.A. (new)

E.A. Briginshaw | 74 comments Helen wrote: "Hi all,

I'm teaching a course on self-publishing in a few weeks at City Lit college in London and understandably, I want it to ROCK.

I would really value your thoughts on what kind of help / gui..."


I've given presentations on self-publishing a few times and the topics I covered were more on the "publishing" aspects rather than the "writing" aspects.

For example, I covered the following topics:
- Obtaining an ISBN (they're free in Canada)
- Self-publishing versus traditional agent/publisher route
- Pros/Cons of some self-publishing platforms (e.g. Createspace, Friesen, etc.)
- Editing options
- Cover Design
- Pricing and Royalties
- Getting Paid & Tax Considerations
- Getting Your Book into Libraries
- Marketing

The part on marketing was pretty weak because I haven't figured that part out myself yet.


message 3: by Felix (new)

Felix Schrodinger | 138 comments Hi Helen

The issue of motivation comes first - do you want to make money or just do it for the satisfaction of seeing your work in print?

The next question is - 'Why self publish?' This needs to encompass a bit about conventional publishing and the obstacles including the frustration of trying to get an agent. Following on we get 'vanity publishing' and the high costs involved with services provided and minimum print runs.

Introduce 'Indie publishing' as a result of technology advances and the success of Kindle.

You then need to explain the options open to SPs, going from complete DIY and just digital to the use of packages such as Authorhouse and the sliding scale of costs which each involves especially if you want your book in print.

Otherwise your list looks fine to me.


message 4: by Felix (new)

Felix Schrodinger | 138 comments PS - don't forget the technical issues such as 'gutters' and 'bleeds'


message 5: by Carro (new)

Carro | 69 comments You might want to go into the costs of ISBNs and also US taxes. On Smashwords (the last time I looked) ISBNs were free inside US, and expensive for folks outside US.
There is registering for US taxes - Amazon.co.uk now has a tool for you to do it online and it is easy, but the last time I looked, on Smashwords it wasn't.
ebooks and paperbacks - they're different.
What sort of books? Novels, romance, thrillers, text books, kids books......? Slightly different requirements in each.
You might also want to mention this group - I've not been here long but I find it really helpful. :)


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Bott (iansbott) | 263 comments Felix wrote: "Hi Helen

The issue of motivation comes first - do you want to make money or just do it for the satisfaction of seeing your work in print?"


I concur with this. Understanding your own motivation - what counts as success - is IMO essential. That leads into creating a business plan. Nothing elaborate, but at least a few sentences articulating why you are in this business in the first place, what your goals are, and how you intend to get there.


message 7: by Ian (new)

Ian Bott (iansbott) | 263 comments Helen wrote: "
- The role of beta readers.
- Using feedback to hone your work."


This is an area I'm passionate about. I gave a talk and wrote a small booklet about this process. I can't give any details here, this forum has rules about bookwhacking, but please feel free to message me directly if you want to know more. I'm happy to send you a free copy and allow you to incorporate ideas from it if it would help you in your project.


message 8: by Frank (new)

Frank Kelso (frank_kelso) | 31 comments Carro wrote: "You might want to go into the costs of ISBNs and also US taxes. On Smashwords (the last time I looked) ISBNs were free inside US, and expensive for folks outside US.
There is registering for US tax..."


ISBN are NOT free in the US. Indie authors in the US should go to www.myidentifiers.com to purchase ISBN. Like anything else, you save money if you buy 100 at a time, but for many new indie authors, that's out of their price reach. Remember, each format requires its own ISBN. If you publish a version in Print-hard-cover, print-soft-cover, ebook, audiobook, you need 4 ISBN.
I'll stay away from Tax advice, but learn the tax rules for the country you live in, and expect the taxman to visit.


message 9: by Carro (last edited Apr 02, 2018 12:46AM) (new)

Carro | 69 comments I am not saying they are free in the US, I am saying they are free ON SMASHWORDS in the US, but not on Smashwords if you are outside of the US.
Oh, and edited to add, you do not have to have an ISBN for an eBook.


message 10: by Felix (new)

Felix Schrodinger | 138 comments PPS - someone mentioned tax.

If your book is published in the US then you need an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) in order to avoid withholding tax. This is issued by the IRS office in Austin Texas and requires application on form W-7 along with your passport. It takes seven weeks - I'm still waiting to get mine back!


message 11: by Carro (new)

Carro | 69 comments If you are someone outside of the US - yes ITIN is what you need. If you publish through Amazon in the UK then it is all automated and online and you don't have to send in copies of documents.
With Smashwords, it isn't automated and you have to do what Felix said.
Another "thing" on tax. VAT in the UK. That is payable on eBooks (don't know about paperbacks). Due to recent changes in EU law, it got enormously complicated a year or so back, to the point that any small online trader, including folks selling eBooks from their websites, couldn't cope. There was a lot of campaigning and relaxation of rules. I've lost track of where it all got to, but another tax thing to track is VAT - need to be aware to look up what is currently happening. If you trade solely through a big book sales website, they take care of it for you.
Also on the topic of tax - UK income tax - you can do your tax returns online for that. Not yet had that experience.


message 12: by Petra (new)

Petra Jacob | 42 comments Felix wrote: "PPS - someone mentioned tax.

If your book is published in the US then you need an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) in order to avoid withholding tax. This is issued by the IRS office in..."


Do you mean if it's physically published in the US? Or does this go for digital sales too?


message 13: by Carro (new)

Carro | 69 comments eBook or paperback, if you sell it in the US, you are liable for US tax - what happens next depends on what reciprocal tax arrangements your country has with the US. If it is the UK, if you set it up correctly, then you just pay tax in the UK, not in the US. But you have to register with the US for this - the ITIN.


message 14: by Ian (new)

Ian Bott (iansbott) | 263 comments Carro wrote: "eBook or paperback, if you sell it in the US, you are liable for US tax - what happens next depends on what reciprocal tax arrangements your country has with the US. If it is the UK, if you set it ..."

Definitely look into the reciprocal tax arrangements if you're outside the US.

As for needing an ITIN, not necessarily. For starters, if you are treating your writing as a business you can get a US EIN instead, which is a far easier process.

And in recent years, some sites will let you enter your tax identification number from your own country rather than filling out the US W-8BEN form. For example, in Canada I can provide my SIN and don't need the US number these days.


message 15: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 335 comments Carro, I have received my ISBNs from Smashwords free and I live in New Zealand.

I also endorse the other Ian's comment. I have a US EIN, and it was far easier to get, namely a phone call. True, I was on hold for what seemed an eternity, but once connected and since I had prepared (download what they will ask from the IRS info on EINs) it was a simple Q&A, and I had it on the spot, so to speak. I have always found the IRS very easy to deal with if you can talk to someone able to do something. They are quite friendly and want to help. You have to be prepared. Sometimes, going for an ITIN can be a nightmare because they say no with no statement why.


message 16: by Petra (new)

Petra Jacob | 42 comments Carro wrote: "eBook or paperback, if you sell it in the US, you are liable for US tax - what happens next depends on what reciprocal tax arrangements your country has with the US. If it is the UK, if you set it ..."

Oh that's great, thanks!


message 17: by Carro (new)

Carro | 69 comments Ian wrote: "Carro, I have received my ISBNs from Smashwords free and I live in New Zealand.
.."


That sounds promising. When was that? (I did say "last time I looked" which was a year or more back - maybe they've changed. :) )

Regarding ITIN and EIN etc, you folks know more than I do. I just know that you need to register to avoid US taxes. Felix mentioned ITIN and I picked up on it, thinking that was the formal name underlying the Amazon online route - careless thinking.


message 18: by Helen (new)

Helen Cox | 6 comments Dear all, thank you so much for sharing all your ideas on this topics. It's all very helpful and I'm sure the students will be benefit from the input. As the course is in the UK, I'll be sure to highlight the difference with US publication. I agree with you that the motivation for self-publishing is going to be an integral part of the course. I'll be starting with this to help students embrace their independent spirit.


message 19: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 335 comments Carro, my publishing with Smashwords started about 5 years ago, so if they have changed adversely, it has to be recent. Why not check with them. Similarly, my obtaining an EIN was a number of years ago, so that advice may be "dated", but it is worth checking out. The key here is to download everything you can find from the IRS and really examine it. For example, to get the EIN, which is an employer number, you can (or could then) say you employed yourself as a business. That worked then, but you have to check the latest rules. Reading IRS stuff can be confusing, but becoming as familiar with as much as possible before you approach them is a good idea. One point I thought of is when on the phone they will ask you why do you want the EIN. My answer was, "To comply with US tax law." I thought that was a good reply because either cannot argue that you shouldn't.


message 20: by Carro (new)

Carro | 69 comments Thanks Ian.


message 21: by Carro (new)

Carro | 69 comments @ Helen.
One thing you might want to highlight too - that they should be aware that traditional publishing houses are rarely interested in a manuscript after it has been self-published, or indeed put up on a website for free (such as Wattpad). Make sure people understand the impact of their choices.


message 22: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1103 comments It's nice to include success stories. In addition to the ones everyone knows about, Hugh Howie, Andy Weir, etc., if you scout around the posts here there are a number of folks who have done phenomenally well. Very inspiring.
References are good too for end of course take-a-ways. Anne R. Allen has a great blog; covers everything about writing/publishing in general.


message 23: by Felix (new)

Felix Schrodinger | 138 comments PPPS - if a picture is worth a thousand words - then examples are worth a million!


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