VAT Plus Price Matching Equals One Major Headache

I figure most self-publishers (and Europeans) know by now that as of January 1, 2015 taxes on e-books are charged based upon the location of the purchaser not the seller.  Which means that instead of a 3% tax on ebooks it can now be as high as 25%.  And it seems to vary by every single country.

(Hey EU, I though you were united and all…)

So, that’s led to a lot of issues for self-publishers with needing to adjust prices on their books.  Some distributors, like Smashwords, recommended not adjusting the price and just taking the hit to be more competitive.  Some, like Amazon, automatically increased all prices to adjust for the change.

I would love to just sit back and let each one do what it will, but…there’s this little issue of price-matching that Amazon engages in.  So, if you let Amazon bump the prices up, but you have your books on Smashwords and they don’t bump the price, then guess what?

Amazon will price-match to the lower price.  Which means hours of “fun” trying to figure out which sites need adjusting and by how much.

For example, I went into D2D yesterday and they let me set the price by currency.  Interesting approach since multiple countries use the Euro and have different tax rates…I had to set my Euro rate to the highest one I saw in the Amazon dashboard.

And, of course, there’s GooglePlay and the sale price it applies to everything that you already had to account for to avoid price matching by Amazon.  I haven’t even gone there yet.  I’m thinking I may just wait for the nasty gram from Amazon and adjust prices at that point…

This wouldn’t be an issue if Amazon didn’t insist on being the lowest price anywhere ever.  But they do.  And they’re the 300-pound gorilla that you can’t get around if you’re self-publishing.  I mean, you CAN.  No one puts a gun to your head and demands that you publish through them.  But they’re a significant revenue source for most all self-publishers.

(Again, not all.  Some have worked really hard to develop the other distributors and have done quite well at it.  But for most, it’s 90%+ of their revenues each month.  That’s certainly the case for me at the moment.)

So, anyway. Big headaches for the new year.

That’s something you learn about self-publishing.  You can’t just write anymore.  You have to pay attention to things like this.  And to what categories your books are in.  (Amazon went through and moved ten or so of my books to new categories sometime in the last week.  They’re still selling well, so I don’t really care, but it could’ve killed sales just as easily.)  And to whether your covers look like those in your genre.  (My M.H. Lee ones so have not, but I’m trying an experiment with them to see if changing them does anything.)  And to any number of other “business” issues that will impact your bottom line.

It’s also a little crazy-making.  I have a goal on my monthly board to write about 85K words.  And here I am on the fourth of the month worrying that 85K isn’t enough even though I’ve only managed to hit 55K-60K in the last three months and that was an exponential increase over what I was doing before that…

I look at every hour spent watching TV or reading or having a life and think, “how many more words could I write if I were writing instead?” leaving out the whole concept of burnout and diminishing returns.

Ah, the joys of “true” self-employment…(as opposed to consulting where I basically let someone else hustle for the work and then deigned to show up and get paid once they’d done all the heavy lifting.)

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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