In this path to self-publishing my first fantasy novel “The Last Families”, I’ve encountered many blocks. There are many services out there to Print-on-Demand, but they are mostly suitable for authors in the US and Canada. I live in Bolivia and that makes things a bit complicated. I don’t think I’m the only author facing these issues so probably this post is going to be helpful to authors in other countries that are not part of North America or the EU (which also has some advantages).
I started with Amazon’s KDP. Of course being on Amazon is important and I’m planning two formats: a printed paperback and ebook. As soon as I started considering self-publishing, KDP entered my radar. I read all Amazon’s terms and agreements and fount out soon that I would be surrendering to them around 70% profits. Half of that is related to taxes since my country doesn’t have any agreement with the US regarding those. I’m still reviewing all this information to see what options and alternatives I have. Although I didn’t choose KDP for other reasons, soon explained, I still want to sell on Amazon. Therefore, I guess I still have to have this tax thing figured it out.
The main reason why I didn’t chose KDP is because they pay by check. And yes, this is the only alternative they offer for international authors. I have many issues with that. First, if a check is sent by regular mail to Bolivia, then there are at least 80% chances that it won’t get here. The Mail in Bolivia is a disaster, and at this point, I’m not even sure if it is working with the pandemic. Before Covid, it sort of worked, but it took around four or more months for your correspondence to get to you. Small envelops, postcards, don’t always arrive, they simply get lost. At this moment, I believe the Mail company is heading towards bankruptcy, and as far as I know, mail hasn’t gotten here since 2019. But even if the Mail company started to work and the check managed to get here, there is another issue. I called my bank and asked how much is the fee to cash an international check. They provided the following example: If your check is U$100, the bank has a minimum of U$35 fee for international checks and 15% on the total, so U$50 will be deducted for a U$100 check (which is also the minimum that Amazon pays). That is half of the earnings. No way, I’m going this route.
Then I had a quick passage through IngramSpark and quickly found a roadblock when I filled my account and billing details and got a message that more or less said, “Your country doesn’t support digital signatures so we are not able to provide our services at this point.” It was time to move to the next one.
The next in my list was BookBaby. I always thought it looked quite decent. They distribute to Amazon and other major channels and besides, their online shop, BookShop, is really a good place to have your title listed, even small libraries and bookshops check their site to order some books. From a previous research, I already knew that I needed to buy an upfront plan to publish with them. It seemed to be around U$349 in a quick search. Their main advantage was that they wouldn’t take any profits on books sold on their site or to distributors. After considering this, I decided that it was worth making the investment. However, it was never meant to be only U$349. I navigated all ways on their platform and even called their support service to make sure I was doing things right. I turns out that I needed an initial order of 25 books. There was no way to get a lower quantity, and with shipping to Bolivia, and adding other things like ISBN (which they charge $39), I was soon close to U$1000 before checkout. Nop, discarded.
And since this story is a bit long, and to avoid getting you bored, I’m going to continue in a next post where I still consider a couple of options more before I get to the final one. See you in a next post in a few days.