Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Indie Authors and the US IRS Department

There are times when being a non- US citizen certainly has its drawbacks. And this especially applies to writers who sell their book through Amazon. For as we all know, they're an American company and anyone who does business with them must go through the IRS - Internal Revenue Service. Unless, of course you're happy not to receive any royalties from the sale of your book, as the IRS will have swallowed it all by charging you a tax from which you are exempt!

So, all us non-US citizens - I'm Australian - are expected to fill out certain forms, provide details of our "foreign citizenship," provide passport documentation and all the other details specified on their W-7 Form.
And that's when the fun begins!
For no matter how detailed and accurate your paperwork, no matter that you've completed all the correct documents, even have it checked by a lawyer to make sure everything's in order, the IRS will find something inaccurate or missing, even if they have all the correct information sitting right in front of them!

That is exactly what's happening to me. And it's been going for over eight months now. It's reached the stage where I'm practically ripping my hair out trying to deal with these people. I'm convinced they don't want non-US citizens to have an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) just so they can gouge more money out of us!
It's another drawback being an indie author - you have to do everything yourself, when it's usually the publisher who would handle all these issues.
So, before I give up completely or get on a plane to Austin, Texas, front up to them and physically show them I'm not a US citizen and therefore don't need to get taxed by them, (especially since my country has a tax treaty with them) I'll ring. Even though it'll be two o'clock in the morning here, the people who work for the IRS will be just starting work.
Hopefully, I'll get someone understanding, someone who'll actually look at my file and see that it's been correctly filled in and all necessary documentation included. And hopefully I won't behave like a distressed female and cry into the phone out of sheer frustration. Although, if I get a man it could be a useful strategy. But I have a feeling most people employed by taxation departments world wide are chosen simply for their inability to empathise and so my emotional outcry would be a waste of time!

Is my situation normal or have other people experienced problems with the IRS? I'd dearly love to know - I'm running out of hair and tissues!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

A Fellow Writers Release Party - Kate Policani

Supporting other fellow indie authors is a pleasure. May I present, Kate Policani. Her YA fantasy novel, Don't Judge a Book By It's Magic is due for release in a couple days time.

Here is a synopsis.

Coming October 26th! 

 Colleen is a normal girl. She loves shoes, chick flicks, and cute clothes. The only thing abnormal about her is that she’s just become a magician; not the disappearing bunny kind, but the power-shooting-out-of-your-hands kind of magician. Her problem now is that she doesn’t believe in magic. Well, she believes in it. She’s seen it shoot out of her own hands, but she opposes it in a moral sense; no hexes, no spells, no incantations, no potions, no amulets, no tomes, no casting circles, no eye of newt, none of that. She has to be very clear because people pressure her about it. Whatever they say about “how it’s done”, this is a morality issue for her and she will not cave in to their pressure. Join Colleen at Seattle Pacific Regional University, where she becomes a part of The Convergence. She’ll learn the freaky side of Work Study, Financial Aid, and Vyxhepiocht. Seriously, she’s never seen so many hot guys. It’s going to be wild!

http://katepolicani.com http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/katepolicani https://www.createspace.com/3657962 http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5250693.Kate_Policani http://www.amazon.com/Kate-Policani/e/B005O0Y53E/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

My review

Kate Policani has created a likeable and feisty character in college student Colleen Underhill who discovers she can do magic after handling an unusual book in a Seattle Library. And, instead of enrolling in her local community college, as expected, Colleen is dragged into a parallel world, to a university where magic is the curriculum.
While in her first year, she is introduced to various aspects of practical magic, including spells and ‘spirits’, which she sees as a challenge to her Christian faith. But, with wit and determination she not only overcomes her teachers’ objections, but wins everyone’s respect and finds unexpected romance in the process.
In Colleen Underhill, Kate has captured the breathless excitement of a seventeen-year-old who suddenly finds herself the most popular student in school, and a sought after marriage partner in a restricted magical society. This is reflected in the runaway, garrulous style of speech affected by her; a certain naïve and juvenile manner with which a young audience will easily identify.
The only other thing I would add, is that it begs for a sequel. 
Just as well it’s the first in a series.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Supporting Fellow Indies!

As an soon-to-be-indie author, I like to promote the work of other authors whose books I've had a chance to preview. We indies need to stick together!
So, having joined forces with the Masquerade Crew - and other bloggers who are participating in this promotion - I'd like to present, Prophecy of the Most Beautiful, by Diantha Jones.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Can a Fantasy Book Appeal to All Age Groups?

I've heard many times, at various writers conferences, by those in the know - editors, manuscript assessors and publishers - that any genre book must be written with a particular age-group in mind, or else it won't work. But, is that always true? Surely JK Rowling has proved the opposite of conventional thinking? Her Harry Potter Series was enthusiastically read by all age groups, from ten-year olds to the over fifties. And there are many other authors whose books do the same.
So much for the experts!

The reason I'm querying is that my own fantasy/vampire/paranormal romance, Bloodgifted - which is the first of a series - was originally pitched at the over twenty-fives as the protagonists are roughly in that age bracket. Most of my beta readers agreed - they're all post-forty something females who love romance novels.
I am now rethinking that.

Recently, one of my beta readers passed my manuscript to a friend's twelve-year old daughter. She read it within two days, then took it to school to read it to her friends. They loved it and wanted to know the release date. They all want a copy and are urging me to hurry up with its publication, so I can complete the second book in the series and get it out there!
I was stunned. It appeals to twelve to fifteen year olds? Who would've guessed! So, now it seems I have a book which crosses the age category and I have to thank twelve-year-old Abi for that.
It also answers a question for me regarding the writing of sex scenes. Knowing my book will be read by a younger audience, will certainly determine the way I approach love scenes, which means erotica is out of the question. Intimate scenes between the central characters can be approached in more subtle and romantic ways and they'll be fun to write.

My own twelve-year-old niece, Annie, has read the first few chapters and even drawn images of some of the characters, which I'm including here.

So, does my novel fit a specific age category? Nope! And that's exciting. Does it have to? You tell me.
The witch, Eithne

Thursday, 11 October 2012

My Self- Publishing Journey, or Do I Really Need a Traditional Publisher?

Those who have been following my blog, know that I've been shortlisted in a recent writing competition. But, before I entered, I'd already sent my manuscript to CS. My original intention was to self-publish since I wasn't keen on waiting several years for a traditional publisher/literary agent to show interest in my work. And, I believe that was the right decision for me.
Now, since the winner of the competition won't be announced till December, I thought to use the time between to thoroughly edit my manuscript, correct any typos, structural or plot problems. I figured that if I don't win, at least my book will be ready to launch by Christmas. Yet on the other hand, if I do win, at least I'll have a publisher.

So, here I am, playing the waiting game, and my next round of digital proofs have arrived from CS.
For anyone contemplating self-publishing, CS takes your original manuscript and reformats it into a double-page spread. This stage is quite exciting as it gives you an idea how the finished project will appear in book form. They even give you a choice of font types and spacing suitable for a professional finish. I actually checked a sample of each one to see whether it worked for me before making my choice.

CS allows you the first lot of corrections for free, as long as there are no more than eighty, otherwise you will have to resubmit the entire work. This costs extra.
If you want to save money, I suggest you make sure your 'baby' has gone through the editing process before the initial submission, so when you do spot errors, they're only minor and won't cost you a cent!

Once done, you're provided with a digital correction sheet. Fill it in and press 'Submit,' then wait ten working days for the completed manuscript to be sent back for your perusal. Hopefully, by this stage, it should be ready to go. Press 'Approve' and CS does the rest.
I haven't reached the 'Approve' stage yet. That's next.

All sounds good - so far. But, what if my manuscript is ready to go before I get word back from the publisher running the writing competition? Were I to win, then there's no problem and the wait would be worth it. But, if I don't, then I've lost the opportunity to release my book in time for Christmas.
So, as Shakespeare said, 'here's the rub.' Should I delay release on Amazon and possibly miss the chance of Christmas sales, OR (and this is a big or) contact the publisher and let them know my position? Or (here's another one) pull out of the comp and publish anyway?

Decisions, decisions... I hate them!

If anyone has any ideas, I'm happy to hear them. Please leave your comment below for me to gnaw over!

If anyone's interested in more information, here's a great link.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Proofread Your Work!

Today, I decided to get myself a manicure and pedicure. It was a chance to sit back in one of the comfortable massage chairs while working through the plot of my second book in my head, when this sign caught my eye.

Unfortunately, the picture isn't all that clear. I took it with my iPhone  - after asking permission, of course. It says:
                       "Dear Customers,
                        Due to the increased numbers of nail
                        lacquer bottles being broken falling
                        down to the floor, we have no choice but
                        must hold customer's responsibility for
                        any broken nail polish bottle. From now
                        on, every broken bottle must be paid at
                        full retail price, which is $20 dollars. So
                        please handle nail lacquer bottles with
                        care. Thank you very much for your

Being an English teacher and writer, this was too much for me to ignore. The plot temporarily forgotten, I leaned forward in my chair and quietly spoke to the manicurist about the grammatical faux pas. Alas, her spoken English was worse than the sign.
Now, I understand the difficulty of communicating in a different language - the salon was staffed entirely by Chinese ladies and their male boss - but really, I believe it's only common courtesy not to make a hash of the common language in a public place.

It's a lesson to us writers as well. Before publishing your work, and putting it out there in the public realm, please, please, please, get it proofread.
You want to engage your readers not frustrate them!

Oh, my nails look fantastic, by the way.