Decisions for Indie-Authors going Kindle


Along with most authors I’ve opted to go, initially, with Kindle Direct Publishing because, quite simply, this reaches the highest number of potential readers. Indeed, many indie-authors don’t bother with any other eBook or any Print-on-Demand (POD) provider. I can see the logic: readers can access Kindle books without even owning a Kindle device. There are free Kindle Reading Apps for smartphones including the iPhone, computers and tablets, including the iPad and Android devices. So, it’s a pretty rational decision to stick with publishing Kindle eBooks.

However, I feel I should make my book available on as many devices as possible, particularly as I want to reach US readers who might prefer, for example, the Barnes & Noble Nook. And, after all, writing this novel has  been a long journey so surely I should go the whole hog?

Here are some of the decisions I’ve made regarding Kindle Direct Publishing (be warned, this is a long post):

FIRST: what price?

This upfront question might suggest that I set out, from Day One of the writing process, to make money. Far from it! I wrote this novel as a way of interrogating a number of specific fears I held for the future. It occurred to  me that by writing a dystopian novel I might actually allay some of those fears, though I wasn’t counting on it.

But how to set the price? In the early days of the eBook industry, authors often opted for a rock-bottom price, and many still do. Amazon’s current minimum price for a Kindle eBook is $0.99 or £0.75 or €0.86. (eBook distributor Smashwords, incidentally, allows authors to offer their eBooks free of charge). In choosing a price for A Calculated Life, I’ve kept in mind that I’m going to chose the ‘Kindle Select’ publishing option. With Kindle Select, I’ll be giving Amazon three months’ exclusive rights for selling my eBook and during that period Amazon will offer it for free for five days. The whole point of these freebies is to find more readers, gain word-of-mouth recommendations and, ideally, a few online reviews. Authors receive royalties during this three-month period if their books are downloaded by Amazon Prime customers from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

The question is: will a reader chose a free book that’s discounted from $2.99 rather than from $0.99? Answer: quite likely, I reckon. As a reader, I regret spending time on a book that’s, well, below par, even if it’s free. When I download a free eBook I use price as a rough indicator, along with Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature, online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations, not necessarily in that order.

Did I pluck $2.99 out of the air? Nope. You see, $2.99 is the threshold price for a much higher royalty rate for the author: 70% rather than 35%.  And the thresholds, in other currencies are £1.49 and €2.60.

SECOND: to ISBN or not to ISBN?

This is a matter of little interest to most readers, and an ISBN number is not needed for a Kindle eBook – Amazon assigns its own ASIN number. However, I’ve tussled with this question because it might be significant in the longer run. Each time I output a new format for my novel, I will need a new ISBN. Each eBook format needs its own ISBN and each printed format needs a new ISBN (eg. one ISBN for a hardback, another for a paperback, and yet another for a change in paperback size). These ISBNs can be supplied, sometimes free of charge, by the eBook or POD provider.  However, I guess it could be easier in terms of adminstration if I buy a batch of ISBNs that will have a common prefix referring to my name, as publisher. In the UK, ISBNs are purchased from Nielsen’s.

And another niggling thought: is it possible that future legislation will make ISBNs compulsory for eBooks? If so, I might as well start now.

One other point on the question of ISBNs. If you buy your own ISBNs you have the option to invent a publisher name, instead of using your author name. However, I decided against this for two reasons:

• • • It might look very pleasing to have a publisher name but I personally would not want to mislead the reader. I’m an indie-author and I don’t mind being upfront about that. So my publisher is me, Anne Charnock.

• • • I would have to set up a business bank account for the invented publisher name because royalties are paid to the publisher, not the author.

Anyway, there’s no right or wrong, here. I’ve taken the plunge and bought a batch of 10 ISBNs for £121.98 including VAT. The application forms can be downloaded. They could be easier to fill in; they’re better suited to printed material. In a future post, I will explain how to fill in the forms for an ebook.

THIRD: how will I handle dollar royalties?
Surely, this cannot be a problem? Well, it certainly is for non-US authors unless their royalties are pretty damned impressive.

At present, Amazon will pay dollar royalties to your bank if you have a US-based dollar bank account (not a UK-based dollar bank account).


So it seems most UK authors receive dollar cheques in the post and if the royalties are lower than their bank’s transaction charges authors are not bothering to bank them. By contrast, UK authors receive their,,,, royal
ties in pounds sterling, paid direct to their UK sterling bank accounts via EFT ie Electronic Funds Transfer (or by cheque, if preferred).

How to deal with this? After reading many online discussions, I’ve been in contact with US-based Payoneer who will accept dollar payments from I would withdraw from my Payoneer account using a Payoneer Prepaid Debit MasterCard®, which can be presented in a shop, or used to withdraw cash at an ATM. I think this is the route I’ll take and I’ll write a separate post when I’ve set up this arrangement.

UPDATE: 8 February 2013: From this week, Amazon will pay your US Dollar royalties into a European bank account via EFT. Hurray! So I’ve logged onto my KDP Account and under ‘Your Royalty Payment’ selected payment via EFT for Amazon US (including India). I hope this change will be introduced soon for Amazon’s Print-on-Demand operation, CreateSpace.

FOURTH: how do I avoid paying US tax on my dollar royalites?

Crickey O’Reilly, another complication. Essentially, the US Inland Revenue Service deducts at source 30% tax from an author’s dollar royalties until the author applies and gains exemption under a US-UK tax treaty.

It’s a bit of a palaver but there’s a good explanation of the process on Tim C Taylor’s blog and there’s an interesting comment that might prove helpful. I’ll make further enquiries with the US Embassy’s IRS department (apparently very helpful) and report back.

The key thing to remember when I release my ebook, is to ask Amazon to withhold dollar royalities until my tax exemption status has been sorted out.

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