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I will get to VAT-MOSS in a minute. In the meantime, have a drink! And please bear with my train of thought…

I usually don't read reviews of my work. I try to stay as far away from them as possible so I can just concentrate on writing and getting stories out to my fans. But recently I happened to see a review that complained about my pricing. I charge $4.99 for REUNITED, the third book of the Nogiku Series. I don't believe this is an unfair amount to charge since other books of the same length and the same genre are priced the same amount, I worked an entire year on it, designed the cover, and marketed the book all by myself. Plus, I give a break on price with the first two books in the series. Amazingly enough, this wasn't enough for one reader who complained the book was half the size (it is not, it's the same size as the other books) and was overpriced.

As of January 1, among the hundreds of things I do MYSELF as a self-published author, I also had to add “legislation analyzer” to my list of skills. The European Union decided to change VAT (Value Added Tax) laws and their decision impacted my business. Whether or not I think this is a good or bad thing (it is bad, very bad), the legislation meant I had to sit down, understand how the new VAT laws now work, and what I had to change of my pricing to make my business compliant.

I'm sure lots of people think, “Doesn't Amazon handle that for you?” Yes. If you only use Amazon to distribute your books. I choose to distribute them to a wider market and also have my books on Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo (plus one book on All Romance eBooks). Amazon and several other vendors stipulate that you must price your books the same on all vendors which makes the VAT law changes tricky (because vendors get angry when you don't comply with this and they may also start price-matching, which means loss of income). I now have to not only write the books, edit them, design them, publish them, market them, etc. but I also have to be aware of pricing market fluctuations and how they affect the price of my books overseas.

Basically, it's a big ol' mess. I decided to do one large swoop and charge one price for each price point in Euros and then match that price across all vendors. This gives me the advantage of having some control over what my books are priced, but because I had to come up with one larger number that fits all EU currency countries, it means that some countries pay more than others. I apologize for this.

It also means that my Selz store, where I was selling books independently of any vendor, is now gone. When the law went into effect, the burden of tax paying fell on me as the seller, when it used to fall on the buyer. I'm only one person, writing books and publishing them myself. I couldn't handle the tax burden of the independent store, so I had to let it go. I spent a lot of time on that store and really hoped it would give me a way to reach overseas readers who don't buy from the large vendors. I'm bummed about this, to say the least.

If you're a self-published author, take a moment to figure out the VAT MESS and make sure your books are priced properly. If you're a reader, thanks for hanging in there! If you're overseas and I'm charging you 15 extra cents for the book you buy from me, please remember that I cherish every penny, and it all goes to help me write more books for you.

9 thoughts on “VAT-Mess”

  1. I think $4.99 for a book is a good price, especially for a full lenght novel. I have paid more for shorter lenght books. I also think that with a lot of things people don’t really know or think about how much work goes into it.

    With Lola’s Blog Tours I am also worrying about the prices sometimes, but the fact is, it takes a lot of time and I want to do this for a living so I have to charge something for my work. Then there’s the exchange rate. And paypal which also wants some money. I also have to deal with VAT every 4 months and then every year in january as well, it’s a mess, I am happy my mom understands it all so well, else I would be lost.

  2. I get SO MAD when I read a “this book is too expensive” review (not just of my own books but of anyone’s book.) I can’t believe a novel is worth less than a smoothie. It drives me nuts that this is what everyday readers have come to expect. I also go nuts over the idea that a new author should charge less. This makes no sense in a dozen different ways. My brain!

    For my knitting designs, I am so hoping that VAT turns out to be a nothing burger. I sell only 5% of my sales in EU countries, and I am not looking forward to making changes for that small a piece of the business, so right now I’m in pondering mode. (BTW, for a knitting pattern which usually takes about a month to pull together people spend $6 without batting an eyelash. I don’t want them to stop! But it is just one more example of the skewed value of work put into creative endeavors.)

    1. Trust me. I had many choice words about that review. I mean, feel free to hate my work, my characters, my writing, etc. But complaining about price? When I give so much away? I can’t even.

      I have definitely spent $5+ for knitting patterns and never complained. I know how much work goes into a pattern especially from an independent designer and I can see reviews on Ravelry to know if it’s error-free or not. Same goes for books on Amazon, though I’m more choosy just because I have a stockpile of books already. The only time I complain about pricing is when ebooks are $8+ for less than 100k word novels. Even so, I keep my kvetching to myself.

      VAT-MOSS has been a mess. In most cases, I’ve seen a lot of authors just not to sell to EU. They block sales from EU countries and just sell to the rest of the world. You could do that if you need to even if it sucks.

      1. I’m thinking of doing that, but right now my EU sales are such a small portion, I am coasting along figuring it out. Ravelry (bless Casey) has made it as easy as possible for us, and they have partnered with a site called Loveknitting to make it happen, so I am pondering how many patterns I want to spend time copying over to Loveknitting. Just what I need to spend time on! :<

        I'm glad to hear about your writing plans for the year in your new post and excited for the new books this year. I like the title Tokyo Run, though I of course don't know if it fits the book.

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S. J. Pajonas