Getting Out of the 30% Tax Withholding for Non-US Amazon Kindle Authors
Mar12

Getting Out of the 30% Tax Withholding for Non-US Amazon Kindle Authors

    One of the best things about publishing your books with Amazon Kindle is that almost anyone can do it from anywhere in the world. This is great for international authors outside the US who have always wanted to expand their audience base. Unfortunately, Amazon makes non-US authors fill in a ‘tax questionnaire’ before you’re able to publish your first book. If you’ve filled in the quick and easy online form, you’ll already know that authors outside of the US are subjected to a 30% tax withholding. What this means is for every dollar you earn from Amazon Kindle sales, Amazon will withhold 30% to be reported to the IRS. The remaining 70% of your royalty earnings are paid to you via check. If it wasn’t bad enough that non-US authors get the joy of paying exorbitant foreign exchange rates and currency exchange bank fees on a check drawn in US dollars, we also have the issue of losing 30% of our income on withholding. (another post on reducing your foreign exchange rates and fees coming soon…) What you may not realize is that it’s possible to get out of paying that 30% withholding at all – but only if you set up your Amazon account the right way. Avoid Paying the 30% Withholding for Non-US Authors with an EIN When you fill out your tax questionnaire with Amazon, you may be asked to fill in your ITIN (Individual Taxation Identification Number), if you have one. If you don’t, you can opt to fill in your tax file number for wherever you do report your taxes. Even if you DO have an ITIN, you are still required to pay the 30% withholding. However, what they DON’T tell you is that non-US authors with an EIN (Employer Identification Number) aren’t subjected to the same withholding rules. Awesome! Most authors are their own bosses and the IRS concedes that sole traders from most countries are typically self-employed small business owners. As a business owner, you’re potentially an employer, so you definitely need an EIN. If you’re in Australia and you’ve registered an ABN (Australian Business Number), you’re in business, which makes you potentially an employer, so you qualify for your EIN right away. You can apply for your EIN via the IRS website here: https://sa1.www4.irs.gov/modiein/individual/index.jsp Remember, you must complete your session in one sitting. If your session is inactive for more than 15 minutes, you’ll be logged out. As the site doesn’t save your personal information, you’ll need to start over. Once you’ve completed the form, you can download the PDF file that shows your EIN and print the confirmation...

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Heteronyms, Homonyms, Homographs and Homophones
Dec16

Heteronyms, Homonyms, Homographs and Homophones

The English language is peppered with many anomalous words and spellings. Many seemingly-common words may look alike in terms of spelling, but have very different meanings when used in different contexts. These anomalies can make life difficult for a non-native to the language who may be attempting to learn it as a second language. However, it can also be just as confusing to those who have lived their whole lives speaking and writing English as native-speakers. Spellings and meanings differ, accents can summon a completely new meaning and a missing letter can create an embarrassing mistake! It seems that almost every source of research I looked up on the internet has a mild case of confusion over what words can be classified as what. So I took the literal meanings of each of the following definitions from the Oxford Concise Dictionary on my desk. Let’s take a look at some of the more commonly confused types of words. Heteronyms Heteronyms are words that are spelled identically but have different meanings when pronounced differently, usually through accenting different parts of the same word. Heteronyms are specific types of homographs in which the different pronunciations are associated with different meanings. Basically, words with one spelling, but two pronunciations and two unrelated meanings. For example: Lead, pronounced LEED, means to guide. However, lead, pronounced LED, means a metallic element. Homonyms Homonyms are words that are spelled and pronounced the same but have different meanings. In other words, Homonyms are words with one spelling and one pronunciation, but two unrelated meanings, such as bear or left or just or pole.   Homographs Homographs are words that are spelled the same but differ in meaning, derivation, or pronunciation. Basically, Homographs are words which have one spelling but two pronunciations and two distinct meanings or usages. For example: Consider the word tear. Does it rhyme with pear/pair/pare? Or with hear/here? Homophones Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning, derivation, or spelling. In other words, Homophones are classified as words with two spellings and two meanings, but only one pronunciation. For example: Like pear and pair. And pare. These words are spelled differently but sound the same. The English language is riddled with such aural ambiguities. Unfortunately, many school teachers still teach that homonyms are words that sounds the same, regardless of spelling, such as to, too and two. This is technically incorrect – those three words are actually homophones, so please don’t email me and tell me that I’m wrong – I’m simply quoting from sources that I trust far more than I would trust myself. (Oxford English Concise Dictionary,...

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Dealing with Rejection as a Writer
Dec15

Dealing with Rejection as a Writer

“Dear Reject Writer, The brilliant, masterpiece-seeking staff at Bucking-Huge Publishing have decided to ruin your day and post you this pointless piece of paper. It is an official rejection of you as a person and as a writer. Basically, we thought your story sucked so much that we didn’t want to use your SASE to return it to you – just in case you personally had licked the stamps. In fact, we were afraid to touch it. We hired someone to burn it for us. We also hired the same person to prepare this form rejection letter, so you’ll never be tempted to think we read it at all. Once at the post box, the editorial staff will crowd around this soon-to-be-sealed rejection-letter-of-doom and chant curses upon your writing future, after which we shall laugh at you and call you names like Reject and Amateur, just to make us feel better, but especially to make you feel worse. Have a rotten day! The Editor”   Rejected – Personally! Many writers feel as though each rejection letter is deeply personal. Regardless of whether the rejection you receive is a form rejection or a personalized note trying to explain why that publication has chosen not to accept your brain-child – to a writer, the declining editor is the enemy. Seriously, the first thing all writers must realize is that rejections are NOT personal. I know many of you are shaking your heads in disagreement and even more won’t believe me right now, but it is true. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons an editor might reject a piece of work: * The publication is over-stocked with similar stuff right now * The manuscript was about the wrong topic for that editor’s preferences * The manuscript was too long/too short for that publishing house’s tastes. * That editor only buys horror. You submitted romance! * Your manuscript was addressed to the wrong editor. * There is no market for books about purchasing snow tires in the Australian Outback * The editor has spent the quarterly purchase budget, and so rejected everything that came in the door that month. The above examples are just a few things that could happen in any busy publishing office – and are also just some of the ideas that I came up with off the top of my head. In each example, the editor is in no way rejecting the AUTHOR personally. In each example, however, the editor is making a point of showing the author that his or her manuscript is simply not right for that publishing house on that day from a...

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Do You Trust Your Readers with Your Character Descriptions?
Nov29

Do You Trust Your Readers with Your Character Descriptions?

  Did  you know that the act of writing could be considered a form of thought transference? Some might even consider it to be almost a psychic ability, maybe even telepathic! You don’t believe me? Let’s try it and see if we can do it – you and I. I’m going to send a thought directly from my mind to yours. I’ll form an image and we’ll see if you can see the same image I’m seeing. I won’t speak. I won’t even open my mouth. In fact, chances are I’m on a completely different continent to you, but let’s try it anyway. Are you ready? Here goes… I’m imagining a German Shepherd dog standing in a garden holding the shreds of a daisy bush in his mouth. Did you catch my thought? Can you see the same image I’m seeing? Of course you can! Excellent, isn’t it?   I’m certain you saw the same image I wanted to portray; a young black-and-tan German Shepherd dog, whose ears don’t even stand upright yet, wearing an orange-red nylon collar. His ears are lowered against his head, which hangs in shame even though his brown eyes peer up at me dolefully. His long black tail is drooped low between his legs as he stands trying to hide behind a tree, while still chewing my favorite miniature purple daisies. You saw the same image both times, didn’t you? Probably not. The difference between the two descriptions is simple (and should be obvious). In the first, I trusted you to supply your own details. You were given only enough information for your mind to provide your own image. I trusted your imagination to create the finer points of an image for yourself. You could have guessed easily that he’d been chewing a daisy bush and you would have surmised that he looked like almost all other German Shepherd dogs. If the first description was a part of a larger story, your focus would not be taken away from the plot line or the events of the tale unfolding around the solitary image. In the second description, you were told precisely what to imagine and how to imagine it. I didn’t trust you to see the image I wanted you to see, so the second description is overly pedantic. If the second description was written into a larger story, your focus would have been jolted away from the plot long enough for you to stop and actually consider if you were picturing the right image or not. Besides, it reads a bit like a text book. Boring! Let’s try the same exercise with a character from...

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Can Anyone Achieve Self-Publishing Success on Amazon Kindle?
Nov28

Can Anyone Achieve Self-Publishing Success on Amazon Kindle?

    About 2 years ago a friend of mine announced she was going to self-publish some of her unpublished works on the Amazon Kindle platform. After all, she figured there were lots and lots of big success stories out there about writers who suddenly made huge incomes seemingly overnight on the self-publishing platform. She’d read about various success stories, such as unknown writers like Amanda Hocking churning $2.5 million in sales, or writers like EL James gaining monster six-figure advances for print-publishing deals, along with selling the movie rights. Of course, these are big-name success stories. How about some smaller ones? Have you heard about Mishka Shubaly, who earned an estimated $129,544 in 12 months by selling huge numbers of Amazon Singles (novella-length e-books)? No? What about John Locke? He’s the very first self-published writer to sell 1 million Kindle e-books, and he did it in just 5 months. He sold thriller novels, to be precise. How about Stephen Leather earning an approximate £11,000 per month (around $17,000 US) in royalties from Amazon ebook sales? With success stories like that abounding all over the internet, it’s no wonder so many people decide to give it a shot. So my friend dived in at the deep end. Her results astounded me. Six weeks later – after lots of research, writing and planning – I dived right in alongside her. My own results were jaw-droppingly awesome. How is it possible for a relatively unknown writer to make so much money so quickly on the Amazon Kindle Publishing platform? And can any writer get the same results? Let’s take a look at the real numbers, shall we? Average Earnings for Self-Published Authors on Amazon Kindle According to a comprehensive survey conducted by the Guardian, the average income for a self-published Amazon Kindle author is approximately $10,000 USD per year. A whopping 75% of Amazon Kindle royalty earnings goes to just 10% of authors overall. If you break down the math and take into account those few wildly successful high-earning authors, you see that around 50% of Amazon’s self-published authors earn less than $500 per year. There were also certain fiction genres that fared much better than others. Writers who focus on the romance and erotica genres tend to earn around 170% more than writers focused in the speculative fiction genres, such as fantasy and science fiction. So, does an unknown author really have a shot at earning big bucks by self-publishing on Amazon Kindle? Is there really a way to defy the odds and lure thousands of eager readers into buying your books? Breaking Out of the Average Ranks Believe it...

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Creating Villains People Love to Hate
Nov27

Creating Villains People Love to Hate

      Every story has a bad guy. There wouldn’t be much conflict for your protagonist to overcome if there was no antagonist to stir the pot. Yours might be the evil villain who opposes everything your hero (or heroine) does. He might be the treacherous double-agent from the past, or the psychotic evil scientist, or maybe just the “other woman” fighting for your hero’s attention. Who ever your villain is, making sure he is believable is far more difficult than simply creating a character who does bad things to hold up your protagonist’s progress. Your job here is to make your villains credible, logical, and believable, but not likeable. You want the reader to understand what they’re doing that is such a negative thing for your hero. But it’s more involved than just explaining their adverse actions. Your readers need to understand why the antagonist is doing what he does, and why he believes his actions are justified and rational. Basically, you need your villains to be real, three-dimensional people. Unfortunately most “bad guys” are shown as being shallow, narrow-minded creatures whose only ambition is to be as evil as possible. This approach to an antagonist loses the respect of your reader for two reasons: 1 – You lose any emotional impact your story had if your readers can not completely believe the threat to your hero is real, or threatening enough. It also lowers the reader’s esteem for the hero who they know can only beat this unthreatening villain. 2 – A completely evil character equates to a totally weak character to a reader. If your villain’s only motivation is evil, this does not give him enough depth of character to become real in your reader’s mind. Giving your bad guy only one driving motivator is not enough – especially if you choose a lightweight surface motivator like “evil” or “greed”. Think about when you created your protagonist. Most likely you created someone you admired, a character with strength and integrity. I’m guessing you took the time to get right inside your hero’s head and understand what made him tick. Your villain is no different. In order to be considered a worthy opponent, you must portray your antagonist honestly. You must be able to get inside his head, too, and learn what drives him to act the way he does. Remember here that no one sees themselves as mean or evil or bitchy or insane or stupid. Your villain won’t either. To him, his actions and his logic are perfectly justifiable. Show your readers this side of your villain’s logic and you intensify your story’s suspense...

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