I often see questions on forums and lists about where Canadians can make their eBooks available. Can they upload them to the Kindle Store? What about Barnes & Noble?
There are two ways to get an eBook into a bookstore: create an account with that bookstore and upload books directly, or use an aggregator to distribute books to the bookstore.
Everyone can use aggregators like eBookIt, Smashwords, and BookBaby to make their books available at all the major online bookstores, but using an aggregator has two drawbacks:
- You’ll usually earn less per sale, since the aggregator takes a cut, in addition to the bookstore. An exception to this is BookBaby, where you only pay an upfront flat fee.
- You don’t have as much control over your book. Depending on which aggregator you use, changing a price or description, or taking your book down, can take weeks, sometimes longer.
For those reasons, some authors don’t use an aggregator, or go that route only for bookstores that don’t allow direct submissions.
Before I discuss uploading your eBooks directly to the bookstores, let’s talk about taxes for a moment. Most aggregators and online bookstores are based in the US. Therefore, they’re obligated to withhold 30% of any earnings, unless you submit a W-8BEN form. To do so, you’ll first have to get a US tax ID—either an ITIN or EIN. The only difference between using an aggregator and going direct is that you’d save a few stamps if you go with an aggregator, because you’d only have to send one W-8BEN form.
So, which stores accept submissions directly from Canadians and other non-US authors? Let’s look at the biggies:
Yes! But it pays Canadians by cheque. There’s no direct deposit, and I believe that’s also true for authors in some other countries. How big of an “ouch” this is will depend on your bank’s service fees for depositing USD cheques. Having said that, some Canadian banks offer US bank accounts that are based in the US (I think the Royal Bank is one of them). If you get one of those accounts, you can receive direct deposits from Amazon. It’s not enough to have a USD account at a Canadian bank. Also, since Amazon is a US company, you’ll want to submit a W-8BEN form.
Barnes & Noble
Nope. To use PubIt, Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing platform, you need a US tax ID and credit card associated with a US address. That rules most of us out.
Yes! It also does direct deposit, and since it’s not a US company, you don’t have to worry about the IRS.
Yes! But you need a Mac to submit your files. If you’re determined to go direct with Apple, you’ll have to borrow a friend’s Mac, buy one, or use a service like Macincould, which allows you to rent time on Macs in the cloud. You’ll also have to submit a W-8BEN form.
Nope. Sony doesn’t work with individual authors.
Yes! But I don’t know much about the process, including whether a W-8BEN form is required. I’ve heard that the process is tedious, and that your book has to go into the Google Books program, as well. Not everyone will be okay with that, so do your research before you submit to Google Play.
You can submit directly to Amazon, kobo, and Google Play.
If you can get your hands on a real or virtual Mac, you can submit directly to Apple.
You can’t submit directly to Barnes & Noble or Sony.