It Helps If You’re Legally Alive

Posted Originally Oct. 5th 2015

Publishing Books is hard. Not a searing insight, but no less true for it.

I’ve finally independently released Tick-Tock after a year throwing it at traditional publishers and agents and then letting it sit on my hard drive for a list of real reasons through to excuses, many to do with lack of understanding self-publishing.

There is a lot to think about. I’m not completely new to the publishing game, Tick-Tock not being my first title. However Double/Cross was very different (for starters it’s technically a game), but mainly because I published through Choice of Games and they helped with a lot of things that needed doing, for example, giving me a list of exact specs for pictures and things like that. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but the first time you manage to complete a cover design (if you aren’t out sourcing) and you try to upload to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) only for it to chop off the top of the image. Needless to say, it’s a little frustrating.

There are many blogs about publishing but I thought I would share my drop of experience with the ocean. (Bear in mind I went for publishing with KDP, and have chosen to be with them exclusively for 90 days, I don’t have experience with other platforms. Yet.)

It helps if you are legally alive.

Sounds like a joke. It’s not. On publishing I found that according to UK records I technically don’t exist thanks to a botched name change (hats off to HMRC, you guys do a great job). I mean sure I’ve been paying tax in grind stone jobs for five years under my name. Of course I don’t exist. I won’t bore you with the whole story but suffice to say the pinnacle of the whole affair was when I give HMRC a call to sort it out and the woman on the phone asked if I was sure I wasn’t dead.

No. I’m not sure at all.

Now this won’t be a problem to most people, but it does lead into something that is and that’s declaring your self-employment (or becoming a company director, choice is yours, most people go for the first one). Once you’ve bright eyed bushy tailed finished your book you can’t move with it (well you can, you just can’t legally get paid) without a UTR or Unique Tax Reference, or equivalent. This can take months to come through. Even after I’d fixed the whole being dead issue it took mine two months to come through.

Admittedly not the end of the world kind of time frame, but make sure you get this done first because if you’ve organised everything else it can be very frustrating waiting for one number. Especially if you get something in the forms wrong and you have to do it all again because you are not 100% efficient in legal mumbo-jargon.

This was my personal largest obstacle, because (like most writers out there) I consider myself to be significantly more creative than I am sensible, so I knew very little about the ins and outs of the tax that comes with being self-employed.

But don’t worry – on you’ve convinced HMRC you are self-employed and would love to give them money they’re surprisingly willing to accommodate. Who would’ve thought?

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