A Quickie

Let’s see how many people that title brings in!

I haven’t posted for a while, so I thought I would make a quick one to update everyone.

Shadow of the Wraith is now sitting on the shelves of both Eason in Derry and Waterstones in Coleraine (both Northern Ireland). Although I’ve actually lost money to stock both, it feels good to be in actual shops – especially Waterstones.

Temple of the Sixth, the second book in the NEXUS series, is nearly ready to publish, and I’m working with the tentative release date of December 14. It will be available in both e-book and paperback forms – hopefully both will be released at the same time, though I’m having a little bit of trouble with the printer.

One of my kittens bit me quite hard this morning.

I think that is all of my news, which shows what an exciting life I have.

Kira…again

Kira is now available on Amazon and Smashwords, for just 99c/75p!

Kira's Cover

Kira is a steampunk short story/novella of just over 13,000 words.

Kira’s town has so far survived the destruction wrought by the Government on so many others. But for how much longer? In the middle of a blistering desert, her people are out of fuel, out of clean water, and out of options. The Government will destroy them sooner or later, and they won’t survive relocation. Their only chance is to attack first. But Kira knows that’s no chance at all.

I already have one review, from Zigzag Timeline review blog:

‘Kira is a trophy case displaying all his strengths as a writer: heart-pounding action, detailed world-building, characters that don’t just spring from the page, they leap out and yell, “‘ello there!” in your face.’

‘The story is a perfectly angled snapshot of a vast, multi-faceted world, a wonderfully packaged stand-alone tale that leaves room for much, much more.’

Kira

Kira is the 23-year-old title character who takes us through twenty four hours of her life in my new steampunk short story. She lost her home and her family fifteen years ago to a brutal organisation known as the Government, and now etches out a meagre existence in another small town of Wastelanders in the middle of a barren desert.

But the Government’s city of New Haven is expanding, swallowing up or destroying the outlying Wastelander towns. Kira and her people must act soon in order to stay alive, but every option seems like suicide.

Steampunk girl

A steampunk photo-manipulation from deviantArt. Almost exactly how I imagined Kira to look.

I have completed the final edit of Kira, and will be publishing soon. How soon depends on the artist doing the cover, but hopefully on the 1st October. It is a 13,000 (and a bit) short story and will be available in e-book format only on Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Sony, Apple, etc.

I know I said it would be part of an anthology, but it turns out I was a little hasty in saying that, and I will be publishing it myself.

Paperback

I decided ages ago that I was going to bring out a paperback version of Shadow of the Wraith, but I decided I’d wait and bring it out at the same time as book two. Then, a month ago I decided I might as well just do it straight away. So I went to Createspace, where it would be put up for sale on Amazon, without the price going through the roof.

After I’d put it all together (it had to be done quite differently to the way I did the hardback on Lulu), I had to order my proof copy. I was somewhat dismayed that, unlike Lulu, I had to pay full price for my proof copy, plus a stuipid amount for postage. Then I’d have to wait nearly a month for it.

So I ordered the proof and waited. It was meant to arrive on 3rd September. Come 10th, I emailed them to say it hadn’t arrived, and ask what they would do about it. They emailed back to tell me if it hadn’t arrived by 3rd October, to email again.

Nice.

While I was fuming and trying to decide if I’d bother with them even when it did come, it arrived. A week late, but still, it’s here. It is very good quality, and so I decided I’d ignore the horrendous customer service and still publish it with them.

So, in short, the paperback is now available on the Createspace store, and will be up on Amazon very soon!

UPDATE! The paper back is now also available on Amazon.

Free For The Last Time

Shadow of the Wraith is free again today, tomorrow and Monday. It will be the last time it’s free, as I won’t be enrolling in Select for a second time. So get it now! Or…wait and buy it later. I don’t mind.

Shadow of the Wraith, Kindle cover

‘Harrison expertly throws curve balls at the reader…’ – Tea and Text review blog

‘The best elements of every science fiction story you’ve ever heard of, brought together into one epic adventure!’ – Tea and Text again

‘READ IT! This book is absolutely amazing.’ – Bookishly Devoted review blog

‘…This one I couldn’t put down until I had finished it.’ – Amazon reviewer

UK

US

America’s Stealing Your Money!!

Well…the IRS is stealing 30% of your royalties if you’re a non-American self-published author selling books anywhere they deem to be ‘America’. But the title got your attention!

Unfortunately, the American government forces Amazon.com, for example, to withhold 30% of any royalties made there for tax. Yes, even though you aren’t American, don’t live there and, technically, aren’t selling a damn thing there. Same thing if I sell a hardback to an American via Lulu.

So, here is what to do. I’m aiming this at people from the UK, selling on Amazon; but it’s pretty much the same for anywhere else, you just send off the form to them instead. Also, in terms of Amazon, this 30% withholding only applies to sales on the .com site – no tax is withheld for sales from Amazon.co.uk, .de, etc.

I just did this yesterday, using the advice in this blog. The only thing left is for Amazon to receive the form and stop withholding 30%. I’ll update when that happens.

For a while I thought I knew exactly what I needed to do, and just had to get round to doing it. As it turned out, I’d been given the wrong information. Or at least correct but not as needlessly complicated as some people would have liked. The next lot of information I was given was more complex, and included having to get a letter from everyone who sold my book to prove I was making money ‘in the US’, filling out a form to get a number to fill out another form, and then sending said form along with said letters and my passport off to America.

That’s rubbish.

Well, it might not be rubbish, but it is, as I said, needless. It’s just complicated to understand. I still don’t completely understand, but I’ve done it, it was easy, and according to the above blog, it works perfectly. Again, I’ll update to confirm my own success.

So…

Step 1

You need an EIN (Employer Identification Number) or an ITIN. I originally got an EIN and that is what the IRS told me I needed; however, as I update this (Dec. 2016), Amazon’s tax interview that has to be filled out refuses to accept the EIN as it thinks I should have an ITIN. Technically speaking, this requires an SS-4 form, but it isn’t entirely necessary as you won’t actually be sending the form anywhere. It is helpful to fill it in, however, as you’ll be asked what you put on line x, line y, and line why can’t we have your money. So, fill in:

• Line 1, 4a, 4b and 6 – although you’ll probably know your name and address anyway!
• In section 9a, tick ‘sole proprietor (SSN)’ – leave the boxes blank unless you have a US social security number
• Line 10, click ‘other’ – Here, Amazon suggests some long line, but when I read that out, the IRS man was a little taken aback and would clearly have been satisfied with ‘To fill out a W-8BEN form’
• Line 16 and 17 – I just have ‘Writing’ in both of these. The person you speak to at the IRS will be filling in the form for you, so simply explain that you’re a writer in need of an EIN/ITIN so that you can fill out the W-8BEN, and they’ll know what to put
• Lastly, on line 18, tick ‘no’

That’s it. As I said, you won’t actually be sending it anywhere, but you’re advised to keep a copy for your files, so it may be worth filling in anyway. Plus, I had no idea the IRS man (Mike) would be expecting me to have it filled in, and so I was lucky to think quickly enough to tell him what to put. So it makes things easier for you.

Step 2

Now you’ll need to ring the IRS. I spent a very long time trying to get through the IRS at the London embassy, and no one answered the phone – I hate to think what my phone bill will be. But I’m not 100% sure they can even do this from there, so ring the IRS direct in America.

The number is 001 267 941 1099. I phoned at about 4.30pm and only had to wait about three minutes before someone picked up. This is the direct line for acquiring an EIN/ITIN. You’ll need to press 2 at the options, or simply stay on the line. When Mike answered, he introduced himself and asked if I was applying for an EIN/ITIN, if I was resident outside of the US, and if I had the SS-4 in front of me (I said yes here, not realising he meant a filled in SS-4). From there, there’s nothing difficult.

Remember to explain early on that you’re a self-published writer and need the EIN/ITIN so that you can fill out the W-8BEN. That will give him/her a better picture of what they’re putting on the form.

After asking you what you put in the above lines, he/she will put the information through. Then while you’re waiting they’ll tell you that you’ll be getting a letter with confirmation of the number in, I think, 4-8 weeks. Then they’ll give you the number there and then. Write it down, obviously, and put it in the top right corner of the SS-4 form, so it’s kept in a safe place.

Step 3

And that’s the way to get the EIN/ITIN, which others would have you believing is a complicated, life-sucking procedure which will take weeks and weeks.

Now you just need to use this number to get Amazon, in this case, to stop withholding 30% of your royalties. For that, you need the W-8BEN form.

It’s in a PDF format that allows you to fill it in on your computer, but to be safe I printed it out and filled it in by hand.

Now, this one is going to Amazon, so I used the advice on their page about filling it in, as well as a little from Silentnovelist at the above blog. Fill in:

• Your name in section 1
• ‘N/A’ in section 2 – I don’t honestly know why that’s not ‘United Kingdom’, but that’s what Amazon say to do. Perhaps it’s because the ‘organisation’ is you, and so not really based anywhere. Or perhaps it’s because there is no corporation
• In section 3, tick ‘individual’
• In section 4, put your address, obviously; and ‘United Kingdom’ for country
• In section 6, put in your new EIN number, and tick ‘EIN’, or the same for ‘ITIN’
• In Part II, section 9, tick both ‘a’ and ‘b’, and put ‘United Kingdom’ in the box at ‘a’
• In section 10, in the second box about the percentage of withholding, put ‘0’. In the next, type of income, put ‘author/writer’. In the third, the reasons, write ‘British citizen and resident of the United Kingdom’
• Lastly, at the bottom right, ‘Capacity in which acting’, write ‘self’

Then all you need to do is sign and date (noting that Americans write their dates ass-backwards).

Step Whatever Number We’re On Now

All that remains is to send it. So send it. To this address:

Amazon Digital Services
c/o Vendor Maintenance
PO Box 80683
Seattle, WA 98108-0683
USA

Include with it a letter saying who you are (your pen name, if you use one), and asking them to confirm when they receive it and stop withholding.

I haven’t written mine yet, but it’ll be something along the lines of, ‘I enclose form W-8BEN, upon receipt of which I understand you will no longer withhold any percentage of my Amazon.com royalties for US tax, and I will receive 100% of those royalties.’

Remember to include your email address, asking them to confirm.

That should be it. The post office is closed today, so I haven’t found out the best way to post to America, or what it costs, but I will do so on Tuesday and update.

I hope that helps. Moreso, I hope someone who it CAN help reads it. And thanks to Silentnovelist at the aforementioned blog for helping me in the first place!

EDIT 3/8/12: I have now had confirmation from Amazon that my tax rate is now 0%. So, all is well, and the above worked fine 🙂

Steampunk

I’ve finally thought of something else to blog about!

I was asked a while ago to write a short steampunk story, with a 10,000 word limit, for an anthology. It was very nice to be asked – especially when I saw some of the other writers who’d be doing it. But I’d never read steampunk before in my life.

When I said that to a friend, he wisely said ‘How hard can it be?’ and told me it’s the same as sci fi, but with more steam. Unfortunately he was serious. Anyway, it’s a little more than that, so I scoured the internet and found (or rather was linked to by someone else after complaining that I could find nothing) a website with lots of steampunk shorts.

I gave some of them a read and decided that it was probably something I could do. I have the other writers and the editor and so on to tell me if I’ve insulted the name of steampunk, after all. So I got started.

I should say, that last sentence rather alluded to this being an interesting anecdote. It isn’t.

It turned out to be quite a lot easier to get into than I expected. As someone pointed out, I did manage to mention just about every item of steampunk clothing within the first few paragraphs; but then the character was taking in her own appearance after a fight. Would anyone pick up on that in any other genre? If she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt would anyone complain about me describing that? There’s not really a way to describe her appearance without mentioning the leather corset, the top hat, the goggles, etc, because that’s what she’s wearing! So I’ll have to see what the consensus is I suppose.

Anyway, this was not the first time I’d written a short story. It was, however, the first time I’ve managed to finish a short story. Usually, I can’t write them – I just keep going and going until it’s not short any more. I once tried to write one for a mock exam at school, and ended up not answering any other part of the exam, AND not finishing the story. This one I finished with 27 words to spare.

As usual, it pretty much wrote itself. I had several ideas that simply wouldn’t fit into a short story, so there’s a good chance I’ll someday write a full-length version. For now, I just need to do my final edit on it, and then send it off to be ripped apart by the other writers and the editor.

At the moment, the title is ‘After The Last War’, and tells of a day and a bit in the life of Kira, a Wastelander trying to stop her town from launching an attack which will get them all killed. Fun. I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say, but the plan is to publish the anthology within – let’s keep it vague – the next 6 months. I’m looking forward to reading what everyone else has written!

To Free Or Not To Free

Ok, I think I may have wasted that ‘clever’ title on this post, but it does seem to be the question on Amazon’s mind every time I want Shadow of the Wraith to be free.

Last weekend, I had Saturday and Sunday scheduled for a free promotion. All went as planned, as far as I was aware. I checked Amazon.co.uk and it was at £0.00 – all good. However, then came 4 or 5pm. ‘Your book isn’t free’, was the simple message from an American who had gone to download it.

Now, we can’t see the price on ebooks on the Amazon sites that we’re not meant to buy from, so I had no way, previously, of knowing if it was free on .com, and no reason to doubt it. Of course, that was still early morning in America – who knows why that American was up at that time, but I’m glad she was. Then again, you people seem to get up ridiculously early compared to us!

Amazon, surprisingly, only took an hour or two to respond to my email, and told me that it was a temporary glitch, and that it had been sorted. Nonetheless, it didn’t become free on Amazon.com until about 9pm here – so afternoon there. Plenty of time for all the Americans and Canadians and Irish – and whoever else has to buy from .com – whom I’d told about its freeness, to go on and discover that I was lying. Or as far as they knew, anyway.

Still, all was well, and I ended up getting 448 free downloads over the two days. Most from the .com site, despite the…hiccough. Amazon promised to make it free on a day of my choosing to make up for it. That day is today.

So I turned on my laptop, checked all the sites I check, panicked unnecessarily when I remembered the book was free and I’d told no one, and had a cup of coffee. I set about posting on every forum I’m on – actually not a huge amount, but with my memory, I can’t afford to be on too many!

Then, as I was about to click ‘post’ on my final thread, it occurred to me that perhaps I should have actually checked Amazon, rather than just naively trusting them.

£2.56.

Yes, they’ve done it again. On this, the day supposed to make up for their screw up last week, they have screwed up. They’ve done the exact same thing, but in reverse. This time, Amazon.com lists it as free, but .co.uk does not.

Now, I can hardly be too annoyed with Amazon, or complain about them too much. After all, thanks to them, I am now a published author – even if I won’t actually feel like that until the first, say…5000 sales. But it is a little disappointing when one of your most powerful tools to get your book and your name out there is messed up. We only get five free days every ninety days, after all.

Anyway. In short, Shadow of the Wraith is free on Amazon.com – and quite possibly .de and so on, I don’t know – but not on Amazon.co.uk. Sorry, but it’s not my fault! We’ll have to see if they offer me another free free day to make up for this time.