September 19, 2009



Lulu in London, self-publishing a children’s book in the UK, the tax forms

September 19, 2009

Well – that was easier than expected.  There are two forms you need to know about – so make sure you fill that second one too.

i went all around the houses to find this out.  Then I emailed Lulu who sent me all the forms plus a handy headed letter.

The W-8BEN form looks atrocious;  pages and pages of counter-intuitive legalese.  But hang on, all you actually have to do is fill in one page.  So you are putting your name and address in Part I.  Pat yourself on the back.  In Part II – which is about the Tax Treaty benefits – you just tick box 9a to say you are resident in the UK.  Then skip down to question 10.  You drop in 12 where it says the Provisions of Article_.  You write 0% rate of tax and then at the very end you give as our reason for meeting the terms “Copyright Royalties”.

Print it, sign it, date it and post it to Lulu in raleigh, NC.  Allow yourself a brief fantasy about how you might spend a Royalty cheque.  Image 500 quid.   How would you use that?

Now – back to work.  There is another form.  The W7.  This is the form you need to get your individual tax reference.  (ITIN)

The W7 form is your chance to say that you want a tax reference but you do not want to do a tax return.

Start by ticking (a) as the Reason You are Submitting.

Do the name and address then look at page two on How to Apply.  You need two pieces of paperwork now.  I used my passport as my ID.  You cannot just send a photocopy.  You need to go to your passport office and get a certified copy.  Sixteen quid later you have a stamped, official photocopy. I asked at the office if I was allowed to photocopy this and they said yes, no problem.  Get your £16 quids worth.

Now – you do not want to do a tax return.  Look on page 6 at the Exceptions Tables.  You will see Exception 1 is Third party Witholding on Passive Income.  That is you.  You are item 1 (d) receiving income such as…royalties. (hooray)  The documentation needed is a letter from the withholding agent.  Lulu has it all pre-printed and ready to email to you.  I emailed Customer Support and they sent me the w-8BEN, the W7 and this letter.

So, now you are putting the W7, Lulu’s letter and your expensive passport photocopy into a envelope and sending to the IRS in Austin, Texas.

Another pat on back and brief fantasy about being Oprah’s Book of the Month and getting substantial royalties.  Dream the dream.

Oh and finally, when you do get the ITIN number the last thing you need to do is add it to your profile in Lulu.  You do that under Change Remission settings.

Lulu in London, self-publishing a children’s book in the UK, the Amazon resolution.

September 17, 2009

Yesterday UK Amazon told me that A Fairy in the Family is now available.  Well, we’ve had false dawns before.  But shortly afterwards an email appeared from Luly.  Yes, it’s true!  I emiled to check if I needed to pay and it seems I don’t – I get the UK distribution as part of my Published by Lulu package.

This blog really is the blind leading the blind.   It seems that you can buy squares in the UK after all.  Ignore previous post.

So that’s good news.  It means my mum can buy a copy.  Now I need to do some publicity.  More on that later but the dreaded tax blog next.

Lulu in London, self-publishing a children’s book in the UK, the Amazon complication

September 13, 2009

FairyNow I feel dopey.  Having allowed myself to be chatted up by (rather expensive) BookSurge  it  turns out that Lulu DID, in fact, make my book available on American Amazon.   So, where did I go wrong?

Get ready to concentrate – if you are Ireland or UK based you will have a slightly tougher time than our fellow authors in the states.  So listen up.

For starters, I did not realise until now that Amazon is in fact many, many different Amazons operating in different territories.  If you are self-publishing in the UK and Ireland with Lulu  then you have to go an extra mile to be on Amazon in your own country.  The American listing is in the bag so don’t panic like I did.  Your book might show up as being out of print (and BookSurge will sidle up to you promising to help)  but stay calm and wait.  It WILL appear.  The UK one is trickier. is one of the smaller Amazons not included in the basic Lulu package.  Well, that’s no big deal, the Expanded Distribution, which is under 40 quid, will get you a lucky bag full of mini Amazons which includes the UK.  But if , like me , you did not realize  that one day you would want Lulu’s  Expanded Distribution your book might be the wrong size and shape.  Don’t ask me to explain this – all I can say is that in American they have a factory that makess squares.  In the UK the factory makes rectangles.  The labyrinthine Lulu FAQ are worth studying.  Type Global Reach into their  help search box and you will find a nice chart.

In fact – here it is:

Still with me?  Now I am going to add one more warning.  Just now Lulu is having some trouble with their UK distribution.  Here is the message they sent me last week:

We have temporarily suspended our uploads of new listings to because of a bug that is affecting all of our listings so if your books listing was not complete it may have been set as unavailable. Again, I am sorry for the frustration that this has cause but, I assure you that we are working diligently to get this sorted out on our side.

I’m happy to wait or Lulu to sort themselves out for my next book which is A Fairy in the family translated into Irish. If anyone knows a better way onto UK Amazon, please let me know.

Now  – you my have found this dull – but wait til you see my post on tax forms!!

Lulu in London, self-publishing a children’s book in the UK, the BookSurge stage

August 30, 2009

It struck me the other day that coming up with a new book idea is rather like saying to your pals ‘Hey, let’s all run up this down escalator!’.   In the  moment you come up with your great idea there’s a  flurry of excitement and a run for the stairs – you get  the credit for your wacky good (at the time) notion.  All good fun so far.  However as you turn the idea into reality things change.  Your leg muscles burn in the fight against gravity and the original appeal of the idea evaporates along with the sweat on your brow.  How nice it would be just the let the escalator carry you back to where you started and you can forget the whole thing.  To save face you could say ‘Hey, better idea!  why don’t we all slide down the bannister like those teenagers are doing? Cool!”

For me that’s what book ideas feel like.  When a book is failing to catch publishers’ or agents’ eyes there is a temptation to blame the idea.  And to get excited about the next idea and the one after that.  But here’s when you have to hold your nerve.  I have worked in creative industries long enough to know that good ideas often get rejected.  I have read enough kids’ books to know that bad ones get published.  Beatrix Potter didn’t say “Oh you don’t like the rabbit, no worries, how about these badgers?    I have a great badger book.  Or voles, wanna hear my vole idea?”   Of course new ideas are great but not when they are an excuse for neglecting a good old idea.

Personally,  I love that phase when I am telling my pals the plot for a new book. I get a kick out of describing the character’s situation and having people urgently ask ‘And then what happened?  How did she get out of that?’  I am getting far less of a kick out of my current phase of trying to heave the book up onto Amazon.

When I published my book with Lulu I kind of assumed that it was already for sale on Amazon.  Not so.  Now I have bought  a distribution package from BookSurge to rectify the situation.  The BookSurge people are emailing me about LCCN numbers. taxation forms and Lord knows what else.  I fobbed off the nice man who phoned to check if I’d read my emails.  I asked him about the location of the BookSurge offices.  I enquired about the weather in Charleston.  But it’s inevitable.  I will have to do all the tedious tax office whatevers.   Yaaaaawn.

And the worst thing is  I have nothing to say when people ask “How is your book going?’  They want to hear that Oprah Winfrey loves it and that Sasha Obama is a fan.   i want to be in lively negotaitions with Beyoncé about her role in the sequel.   Well, some day that might be true but not unless I get my W8-BEN form sorted out.

Lulu in London – self-publishing a children’s book in the UK.

August 25, 2009

Now as someone who wants to be a writer I suppose I should put some effort into using beautiful prose for this blog. If you don’t mind, I won’t. I’m here to talk about my Lulu experience for anyone else who might want to publish their own book. Lulu, in case you don’t know is a POD site, That means publish on demand. So if your book is on Lulu people can go in, buy one copy and go away without you, the author, having to fill your spare bedroom with boxes full of mildewed paper. Who designs the book? You do it yourself. Or in my case I got my very talented and generous sister to do it. The Lulu printing is fab and i love my book.

So what next? Selling it. Here’s where I got confused so I’ll go through how it is working for me so far. And I’ll explain a little setback that you might avoid. To publish on Lulu you have to use certain sizes, numbers of pages, an ISBN number etc etc. My sister and I spent months studying the specs and it was a great day when the book turned up on the Lulu site. The first glitch is that the book is expensive. A Fairy in the Family is well over a tenner but you can’t chase every hare in the field so that is just that for now.

The next phase was to get the book listed on Amazon. And here is where it got interesting. About six weeks after opting into Amazon my book appeared. I ordered one straightaway. A few weeks later I got a message from Amazon saying they did not have the book and it was ‘Discontinued’. Lulu offered to make it available in the UK if I bought a distribution package for around £40. Ok.

Meanwhile was claiming my book was ‘Out of Print’. However, a company called BookSurge offered to make it available if I bought a distribution package for $299. So two packages to buy. But – the glitch. It turned out the book was the wrong size for the UK Lulu distribution package. They asked if I could redesign it. As if! Who’s gonna pay for that? While I fizzed with rage they gave me back my money and apologised profusely. Just one of those things. Lulu has been great, personal emails and genuine concern.

Meanwhile at home the book is being translated into Irish. (I got some funding to distribute it to the bilingual schools.) Coincidentally the translator made a good argument for redesigning the book in a different shape. Something to do with small kids needing to learn to go left to right. So the redesign is looking inevitable.

Tomorrow I will try the BookSurge people. Will I ever sell a book for actual real money?? I’ll tell you when I do.

Hello world!

August 25, 2009

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