It turns out that it doesn’t just happen by itself. Who knew? I am still only partway through this process, so this story isn’t complete. But here’s what has been achieved:
My publisher, Ark House press, has pushed the hard-copy version of my book Medar out for sale via their distribution channels to multiple online book stores. So far I’ve done searches and found it for sale on about 12 online book sites, including Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. The orders go back to Ark House, they print it and send it off. I have no idea how many books have been purchased via these websites – I’m still waiting for the first report from Ark House. For a full list of websites where my book is available, visit my purchase page.
Secondly, I have my own supply of hard copies. These I can sell to bookstores and friends as I like, just not online. Seeing as the first batch I ordered contained a formatting error, I have been selling these at a discount to friends only. It would be nice to think that one day (when I’m rich and famous!) they will be worth something. I have approached some local bookstores, and three of them took five copies each ‘on consignment’ just before Christmas 2017. I have yet to follow up to find out how many have sold.
It’s also available in some libraries: Ark House put a copy into the Australian National Library, I sent off two copies to the NZ National Library and my kids’ school and my church have purchased copies for their libraries. A local couple that sell books to schools has asked for ten copies to try to sell to school libraries throughout New Zealand. Fingers crossed!
Then there’s the e-book sales. Under my contract, I handle this myself. Ark House sent me the epub file at the end of October 2017 (three months after I received my first consignment of hard copies). I decided to go with online distributor Smashwords and duly set up my account. I had to set up a paypal account and dedicated email and bank accounts. I only got so far through the process when I encountered a barrier: I need an ITIN (international tax number from the US) to finalise the Smashwords account. This involved filling out a form, posting it off to the US and waiting about 7 weeks to receive the ITIN in the post. Upon enquiry, I found out from fellow authors that there’s a work-around: you can get an EIN number instead, which only involves a phone call to the US and you get given the number verbally over the phone. That sounded way easier. It took me a few days, but I finally got hold of the correct department and duly received my EIN over the phone. With much excitement, I entered the number into the Smashwords online form…only for an error message to pop up: “you cannot use a tax number that starts with 98 for this form.” The EIN number was no good (they all start with 98). So I duly started the process to apply for the ITIN. First of all, I had obtain a certified copy of my ID – had to be done by the issuing authority and have an embossed seal on it. I sent my passport off to Wellington & duly got my certified copy. That took ten working days. Finally sent off my application for the ITIN on 25 November 2017…and nine weeks later I’m still waiting. If you allow for the two weeks shut-down over Christmas, it’s only been exactly seven weeks today. So hopefully it turns up in the mail next week. Not sure what I’ll do if it doesn’t…
My advice to anyone who intends to sell their books online – don’t wait for your book to be finalised before you start the application process for the ITIN!