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.