Ya Gotsta Get Paid: E-Book Sales in America, For Non-Americans

If you’ve found your way here, you just might be a writer. You might be thinking of joining the glamorous world of e-book publishing.

If you wanna make this easy, make sure you’re from the States. Sell stories. Get paid. File your taxes. Boom! You’re done.

If you wanna make it interesting, be from anywhere else.

Welcome to the wild world of cross-border taxes. Exciting, no?

When I first started publishing, I knew I’d have to pay the Tax Man. No problem, I’ll worry about it later, it’s no big deal. But what I didn’t know, and you may not either, is that unless you file the correct paperwork with American-based publishers (Amazon, Smashwords, and the like), they’ll be withholding taxes from your sales right off the top. How does 30% sound? That’s money going to the IRS before you’ve ever seen it. Then, when you get your cheque, guess what? You’ll be paying MORE tax, this time to your own country.

The good news? If you’re in a country that has a tax treaty with the US, you can reduce or even eliminate withholding.

Now, you might be writing “for yourself”, with nary a thought of filthy lucre tainting your artistic dreams. How lovely. But if you don’t want any of your money, why are you selling in the first place?

Let’s be real.

So, what do you need? You’ll need to send a W-8BEN form to your publishers. And before you can file that, you’ll need an ITIN (takes up to ten weeks to get your number). And before you can file that, you’re gonna need a notarized copy of your identification: a passport works well here. Expect that to take another ten days. And the kicker is that the government doesn’t really walk you through the forms. (Though I remember reading that you can call a long-distance number for help, or contact your embassy…)

Luckily, I found someone who’s written up some great instructions, but before I tell you where to find them you need to know that neither she nor I are legal-types in any way. If you’re filing these forms yourself and you need more help, I’m afraid you’re on your own. Sorry ’bout that.

Good? Good.

Go here for ITIN instructions, and here for help with the W-8BEN. Again, I can’t promise anything definitive, but I can say that I used Angela’s instructions successfully.

E-publishing can be tough; don’t make it any tougher by giving away your hard-earned dollars.

Life’s Better In the Zone

Yesterday I wrote.

That wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary — excepting unforseen catastrophes, I try to write something every day.

The difference with yesterday was that I tripled my typical output.

I’m working on a novel right now, and have a couple shorts bubbling away. (People said I should put one out for Halloween, being a horror writer and all, but neither is ready yet. I’d rather wait until I love them more.) Yesterday I sat down, set my timer, figured I’d get some words down on the novel then go about the rest of my day.

But what happened instead was that I fell into that mystical place: the Zone. Where the words seem to flow through you, whispered in your ear by some other storyteller. All you have to do is catch them before they wink out, and nail them down before they get away. When you’re there, you know: it felt like my hands were guided by someone, or Something other than myself, and when I read over what I’d written it seemed to have come from someone else altogether. At the same time, the voice is completely, one hundred percent me at my best, and I couldn’t be happier. I love the story, and everyone and everything in it. I know what’s happening and where it’s going.

I came away from the session with legs cramped and brain spinning. Pleasantly exhausted and wrung completely dry. It was running a marathon. It was winning a gameshow. It was years of practice at writing distilled into one perfect afternoon.

I can only hope Whatever that was comes to visit me again soon. We’ve got a lot of work to do, the two of us.

The Pomodoro Technique for Productivity

“The Pomodoro technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.[1] The technique uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals called ‘Pomodoros’ (from the Italian word for ‘tomato’) separated by breaks…”Wikipedia

I just came across this technique today, after falling down one of the endless internet rabbit holes the technique itself should help combat.

The basic idea is this: set a timer, work (write) for 25 minutes, take a five minute break, repeat. You get the reward of a quick break just when it’s most likely that your mind has started to wander.

I bought a timer (digital, though manually-wound is recommended) and gave it a shot. Other than the fact that I cut out early to watch a show about Voodoo, it worked well. Knowing that I had a break coming up freed me to concentrate on my story without feeling like I was glued to the chair all night. It’s a simple thing, but it seems to be working so far. And hell, I’ll take all the help I can get.

PS – The technique is called “Pomodoro” because its inventor used a tomato-shaped timer. I like to think of each of my “pomodoros” as being one of the mutant tomatoes from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!. Take that, lack of focus. I WILL DESTROY YOU.

BoardZilla

I decided to try the whole planning-a-novel-on-index-cards-thing, so I bought a new cork board to hold them. I already had one in the office, but I decided I needed more space.

Ahem.

The small one is for mere mortals.

I had to move the front seats of the car forward, collapse the back seats, and was barely able to squeeze the trunk shut. The board came from our local Ikea-knockoff, so its size was given in centimeters, and I’m a bad Canadian and suck at metric but I’m thinking it’s at least four and a half feet tall. Maybe five.

I lugged it through the back door. My husband was gaming on the couch in the living room, and when he saw my new monstrosity he just laughed.

“That’s ridiculous! That thing’s HUGE! You could use it as a sled.”

“Shut up.”

“Or hold it over your head for a parachute…or use it to build an addition on the house…”

“SHUT UP.”

“Parasail…area rug…bet it won’t fit up the stairs.”

I rolled my eyes, asked him to kindly shut the fuck up, and went to carry it upstairs. I managed to put a ding in the wall, which made him laugh so hard I thought he’d pee himself.

I love my new cork board. It will be the answer, I know it. I’m guessing this thing’ll hold about 60 index cards, which should get me through just fine (ha!).

I told a coworker about it, and without missing a beat she said, “Flotation device in a flood.”

Shut up.