Thursday, 14 April 2011

A day off from neomodernism

I am heartily sick of the word 'neomodernism'. I am still a neomodernist, neomodernism is still my creed, but I'm sick of the stupid bloody word. I wish I could come up with something better, but I haven't been able to yet and neomodernism is the established term for this ideology.

Anyway, time to have a day without using it (more than the four times in the preceding paragraph, anyway). Last night, at about half eleven after a pleasant evening in the pub, I sat down with my dad, told him my plans for self-publication, and asked what problems he foresaw and whether he thought my plans were realistic. This is, of course, the common-sense test I talked about last week.

The good news is that I passed. The bad news is that it was a conditional pass; dad was able to quite quickly come up with several important questions I need to answer.

The most important questions concern taxes, and specifically VAT. I realised I know nothing about who pays VAT on an ebook sale I make through Smashwords or Amazon (i.e. whether it comes out of my share, Amazon's or both); nor do I know how much money I have to be making from sales before it becomes an issue. Complicating matters, of course, is the fact that through Amazon and other distributors, any books I publish will be available in multiple tax regimes - multiple countries. Different amounts of VAT will be payable to different governments, unless Amazon et al have some clever system for dealing with this (and if I was in their shoes, I would have, just so my own backside was definitely covered). Still, it bears substantial investigation.

Income taxes and appropriate documentation for them are another tedious problem to be faced, though at least I understand those a bit better. UK national insurance is just a more complicated version of same. I figure, though, that if I'm making enough for taxes to be a really serious problem, I'll be making enough to hire an accountant (I sincerely hope). A couple of friends of mine have recently started discussing a plan to form a small independent press which may be of some use in this area.

I need better information on what covers and editing are going to cost. Much better information. I have only a vague idea at the moment, though I'm toying with the notion of going with very minimalist cover designs (I have a blog post in the works about my favourite genre fiction book cover ever, if I can just find an acceptable image, and you'll see how seriously I mean 'minimalist'), which might be within my personal drawing capacity. Maybe.

I probably also need better information on how much it might cost to do some paid-for advertising, which requires figuring out where to advertise. I have a few pretty obvious places in mind, but only a few (which I suppose matches the few £s in my advertising budget...).

There are some issues which I've become aware of myself, too. High on the list is how to unite the books I've got available right now into a focussed enough brand which nevertheless has commercial legs - it would be quite legitimate for me to bill myself as a philosphical novelist, but I'm not sure anyone would buy my novels - and fewer still would read them, particularly if I was successful (don't lie. Have you actually read that copy of Nausea? ^_--). That in turn brings up the question of how to brand 'Bad Romance' at all, which I'm not afraid to admit I'm still rather lost on.

One question my dad raised was whether it would be better, instead of publishing two books at once, to publish them a month or two apart. The blogs I've read suggest that having more than one book available is quite an asset (and given that I'm aiming to publish 'The Earth Trembles' only 2 months later than 'Bad Romance' and 'The Death of John Collins', I'm already going to be tapping some of the effect dad's talking about). Still, there is a question of cross-promotion between books. For now and until someone gives me a convincing, evidence-based argument that it's a bad plan, I'll stick to the two-book plan, but I'm open to suggestions.

Anyway, that's the fallout from the common sense test. I'll be getting to grips with it as best I can over the next few weeks. Tomorrow, it's back to (sigh) neomodernism.

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