Last week I (like all Amazon authors) received an email from Amazon about changes in the VAT rules for e-books. This change comes into effect on January 1st 2015.
Previously (i.e. pre-Jan 2015) VAT on e-books was calculated according to the seller’s country but under the new rules, VAT rates will depend on the buyer’s country. Previously, VAT on Kindle e-books was 3% because Amazon’s headquarters (Amazon are the sellers) are in Luxembourg. Now, for UK e-book buyers it will rise to 20%.
Amazon will automatically change all list prices of existing e-books to reflect this change. This means that Kindle e-book prices are on the rise. The British government will benefit but readers of e-books will lose out.
Previously the lowest price possible on Amazon UK for an Indie e-book, with the author choosing 35% royalties, was 77p. From the 1st Jan 2015 this will rise to 99p. The lowest possible price with the author choosing 70% royalties was £1.53, this will rise to £1.99. The Amazon information page on this is here.
The moral of the story for readers? Stock up on e-books before the end of the year, or face a steep price hike! If you were planning on shopping for a Kindle or tablet in the January sales, download the free Kindle app to your PC and buy your books now to read on your new Kindle later.
The moral of the story for Indie writers? I’m not sure. We’ll have to wait and see if the new, higher prices send the customers running back to print books. Let’s hope not!
Another word of warning – if you sell e-books directly from your own website, it is your responsibility (whether you are currently VAT registered in the UK or not) to implement the new rules i.e. you must charge VAT according to the buyer’s country and then pay the VAT to the relevant government. I’ve found two interesting links on this topic Rachel Andrew has written a blog post and Juliet E. McKenna has put together another useful post.
Many interesting questions were asked about making social media work as a promotion tool for writers. The outcome of the session was that Twitter is an essential part of a writer’s toolkit.
It shouldn’t be used to post family & friends stuff – Facebook is the place for that – and it shouldn’t be used to continually shout ‘buy my books!’ I get the impression it’s purpose is to engage in sensible conversation and to follow those who may be tweeting useful information such as agents, publishers etc.
I think I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve yet to dip my toe into Twitter and perhaps I’ve dragged my feet so much that by the time I string together my first tweet, everyone else will have disappeared off to the next big social media thing.
So, I’m asking all you Tweeters to give me your advice:
- What do you tweet about and how often? Is it OK to repeat yourself on Facebook and Twitter (as long as it’s not a cat video or other ‘silly’) or do you attract the same audience on both platforms?
- How much time do you spend tweeting and/or reading other people’s tweets?
- How do you get followers?
- Is it expected that you will follow everyone who follows you? (I believe there is a ‘mute’ button if you want to switch people off).
- Do you think Twitter is beneficial and if so, in what way?
- Anything else I need to know?
Please feel free to put your Twitter handle in your comment too.
On a different subject and to show that writers come in a multitude of guises, at the Toolkit I came across someone who used to write labels for museum exhibits and someone else who used to write Ceefax pages for the BBC.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I enjoy walking, especially long walks. Getting outside in the fresh air for the day is a great way to unwind and a complete contrast to sitting in front of the computer all day (which I do for my ‘day’ job, as well as when I’m writing).
In August 2013, my husband and I walked the 109 mile Cleveland Way in North Yorkshire over ten days. It’s a fabulous route because the first half meanders over the deserted moors where you’re lucky to even find even a solitary tea shop but, in contrast, the second half is along the coast through bustling resorts like Whitby and Scarborough. This path is also great for beginners because the signposting is excellent – so you are unlikely to get lost (but a map is always advisable, just in case …).
I may like the fresh air but I’m definitely not a backpacker. We stayed in comfortable guest houses and small hotels and had our luggage transported. So we carried only day-sacks and our suitcases were waiting when we arrived at the next overnight stop. All we had to do was hop in the shower and wash away the weariness of the day before changing for our evening meal. And there was always a great cooked breakfast to look forward to the next morning …
Being a writer, I carried a notebook for the 10 days we were walking and I jotted down everything about our trip, from details of the English Heritage properties we found along the route to the tea shops providing good cakes and the display of knitting we found on Saltburn pier. It seemed a waste to keep all this information to myself – it’s all stuff we would have found useful when deciding if this was a holiday we would enjoy and would have helped us in the planning too.
So, I typed it all up into a coherent format, used one of the photos from our trip as the basis for the cover and published it on Kindle.
If you fancy returning from holiday with a clear head, feeling fit and strong (despite eating many cakes and cooked breakfasts!) then I recommend the Cleveland Way to you.
The Senior Travel Expert Writing Competition will open for entries on November 20th 2014. It’s free to enter and the prize is £100.
Don’t panic if you’ve been nowhere exotic. The theme is ‘City, Town or Village’ and the brief is:
“Submit up to 600 words, non-fiction or fiction, which will persuade the readers of this site to go and visit the city, town or village you have chosen.”
We’ve all been somewhere that we could write 600 words about – even if it’s only our home town. So pick up that pen and have a go!
Visit the Senior Travel Expert website for full details, which should be available once the competition opens for entries on Thursday 20th November 2014. At the moment you can just see a brief paragraph if you scroll down the page.
On Sunday, Andrew Marr was asking Scottish politician Alex Salmond what he would like on his epitaph.
Epitaphs were discussed again on the Today program yesterday and it got me thinking.
An epitaph is a couple of sentences epitomising the dead person i.e. summing up how they lived their life.
It struck me that writing an epitaph might be a good way to get to the heart of a character’s psyche.
I’m sure we’ve all come across those character-creation questionnaires which demand that you fill in everything about your protagonists such as date of birth, hair colour, favourite food, best subject at school and secret fear. I’ve tried doing this but find that I get distracted by stuff that isn’t relevant such as my heroine’s shoe size and what she carries in her handbag.
I feel that what I should be doing is getting to the heart of what my character wants from life, what is stopping him or her from getting it and how they are going to overcome this hurdle by their own efforts. It should be possible to do this in two or three short sentences to fit on a gravestone and then, from these few words, it should be possible to work out what else I need to know about the character’s background.
So I’ve had a quick go at doing this for the hero in my current WIP:
‘A devoted father removed from his son by divorce. He endured unemployment and poverty in order to fulfill his paternal drive.’
Alright, it probably needs polishing and editing before the stone mason gets out his chisel but it helps to focus my mind on what this character wants. Knowing this desire will help to shape his actions through the story and keep him on target to get what he wants.
What about you? Does the twenty (or one hundred) questions method suit your way of working or do you do something completely different to create believable characters?
For those of you who do like the questionnaires as a starting point, there’s a whole array of them here.