One Week’s Notice – Withdrawing My Books From Smashwords

Just to give people a head’s up – a week from today I’ll be withdrawing my ebooks from smashwords.com , so anyone who has bought them but not yet downloaded a copy should make sure they have one.

The reason for this is that Lulu, who I do my print books with, have announced that they now have an automatic epub conversion facility similar to Smashwords’, so there should be no problems with formatting (the main reason I didn’t use Lulu previously) as well as getting ebooks onto the same sites (iBooks, Nook etc) that Smashwords does.

And Smashwords has a truly Byzantine payment system which means they can pay you anything up to six months in arrears (I’ve still never received a penny from them) and they make non-US authors jump through all sorts of hoops or withold 30% of their earnings for US tax (I was going to jump through the hoops, now I’ll take the hit since the amount of money involved is going to be tiny) while Lulu pay monthly and consider one’s tax situation one’s own business (I must get an accountant early next year, because I’m now selling enough books to justify it).

So my books will still be available in DRM-free ePub form, and after a relatively short break they should be up on Nook, iBookstore etc as before, but they won’t be on Smashwords after this week.

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2 Responses to One Week’s Notice – Withdrawing My Books From Smashwords

  1. Seb Patrick says:

    > they make non-US authors jump through all sorts of hoops or withold 30% of their earnings for US tax (I was going to jump through the hoops, now I’ll take the hit since the amount of money involved is going to be tiny) while Lulu pay monthly and consider one’s tax situation one’s own business

    Actually, I don’t think it’s a matter of “consider[ing] one’s tax situation one’s own business”. If Smashwords are a US-based company, then they are bound by draconian US tax law to deduct 30% of any royalties paid abroad as withholding tax – unless provided with some form of US Taxpayer Identification Number (obtaining which is presumably the hoops you were talking about jumping through – and it is indeed a massive pain to get one unless you operate via a service company). It certainly won’t be their decision to work this way – it’s a law enforced upon them. Lulu can avoid this because the branch of Lulu that UK-based authors deal with isn’t based in the US.

    I’m not saying this isn’t a reason to go with Lulu over them, of course – obviously it’s significantly more convenient – but I think it’s a little unfair to say that it’s Smashwords’ decision to be draconian about the tax deduction, as it’s something that will certainly be being forced upon them and indeed any other US company (unless the company in question is deliberately breaking the law by not properly filing their tax forms).

    (I deal with US-sourced royalties a lot at work, so I’ve had to complete many ITIN applications and W8-BEN forms for UK-based authors receiving royalties from over there…)

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      It’s not something I’ve had to deal with with either Amazon or CDBaby, both of whom I deal with the US branches of. I *think* this is because they set it up so that rather than collecting author royalties, I am counted as a publisher, but I’m not sure.

      And it’s definitely Smashwords’ choice to pay quarterly rather than monthly ;)

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