Saturday, August 22, 2015

A mention, a giveaway, and more bureaucracy vanquished!

Today, Tiamat’s Nest is featured over at Unicorn Bell. Please drop over and say “Hi.”

I’m also running a giveaway on Goodreads, with the chance to win a free paperback.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tiamat's Nest by Ian S. Bott

Tiamat's Nest

by Ian S. Bott

Giveaway ends September 30, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Speaking of paperbacks, I’m waiting for a shipment from CreateSpace so I can sell direct to friends and colleagues locally. Yesterday I got an email from DHL Canada requesting some details from me before the shipment can clear customs. When I looked at the form they sent me, everything looked easy except the last line where they ask me for my Business Registration Number with the note that my company must be registered as an importer in order to get a release.

Holy fees and forms, Batman! I started to panic. I felt like my small box of books was being held hostage by kidnappers, and fully expected the cost of releasing it to far outweigh the value of the package. However, I decided long ago to treat this writing lark properly as a business, so I gritted my teeth and prepared to do battle once more with the bureaucracy involved.

When I decided to self-publish, I chose to make things official. Not that I ever expect to make enough to buy anything more than a cup of coffee, but, ya know, just in case... So here is a quick summary for anyone else thinking of doing the same in Canada.

Because I’m operating under my own name as a sole proprietor I don’t need to register my business in BC, but I do have a business license to operate in my municipality. This is what I regard as making me “official.”

Being “official” brings benefits. I get to claim legitimate expenses against tax, and as a sole proprietorship the process is easy in Canada, just an additional form to submit along with my personal tax return. I was also able to get an Employer Identification Number with the US IRS - an easy thing to do over the phone rather than the horrendous process to get an Individual Tax Identification Number - so I don’t get dinged US tax at source.

In BC, businesses have two sales taxes to deal with. Luckily books are exempt from BC’s Provincial Sales Tax, and I’d love to have the kind of turnover that would require me to account for the Goods & Services Tax, so I never expected to have to deal with the Canada Revenue Agency.

All that changed last night, because CRA is the body that issues Business Registration Numbers.

I did some research and found to my relief that the process is fairly painless, and free! Having already laid the groundwork, I was able to go to the CRA website and say “Yes, I’m a business.” They asked lots of questions about name and contact details several times over, which was irksome but not difficult. A little while later, I had my Business Number, which is a nine-digit number that uniquely identifies businesses in Canada. You then ask for relevant “Program Accounts” depending on what activities you need to have associated with your business. Most often, businesses will need an account for GST, but in this case I needed to register an account as an importer of goods. And that was it! I am now officially an importer, and I had the information I needed to finish off DHL’s form.

Now, hopefully, I can get my grubby mitts on my books. After all, the package has only been sitting in DHL’s warehouse for 11 days before they deigned to contact me!

Have any of you had to deal with officialdom just to get supposedly easy things done? How did things work for you?


  1. Hi Ian - glad you've resolved the challenges - and well done for starting off in the right way, so it was relatively easy to pick up the pieces. Good luck with getting the books through and being able to have copies available for your friends and local contacts.

    The thing I wondered was where is Create Space printing your books - that they needed to be imported ... I presume the States?

    Have fun when DHL arrives .. cheers Hilary

  2. I think it's a great idea that you are going to sell some of the books yourself. I hope you will be signing them. How far are you willing to ship in Canada?

  3. Hope you get your books soon!
    When is the official release date?

  4. Hilary, yes the books are printed in the States.

    Delores, these copies are intended for face-to-face cash sales (yes, signed). The cost of postage for me to ship them elsewhere would mean you'd be better off ordering direct from Amazon, so I prefer to leave that side of things to the big boys.

    Alex, the paperback is available now. E-book release is August 29. I'll be dropping you a note when it's released :)

  5. Some people think writing the book is the hard part, but as you know all too well, the marketing and promoting is equally hard. Good luck.

  6. I am terrified of small business here -whatever it's for- authors, painting, fruits, etc, because small businesses are just set up to fail. It's easy to be a corporation- NOT easy to be a small business. Sounds like things are coming together for you! Congratulations!

  7. Grrrrr I'm still waiting for my paperback proofs to arrive. Haven't even gotten a phone call and it's been over a month.

    As for officialdom: I'm currently working as a soul proprietor, but already have a publishing company name registered (with a tax number). Simple explanation is that I'm making a profit from the start, which means I'd have to pay a bigger portion as tax through my company than as a soul proprietor. But I plan to switch around as soon as that changes. :-D

  8. Steven, the actual writing is the smallest part of the process by a long way!

    Danette, it's a good job I'm, not depending on this business for an income, there's a good chance it will never so much as break even, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't take it seriously.

    Misha, that is frustrating. Hope your proofs arrive soon.

  9. Congrats on the Unicorn Bell feature!

    Being official is great. Good for you for doing what you had to do. I hope you get your books soon. :)

  10. Hello, congrats on the feature and hope everything gets sorted out in the end, Greetings!

  11. Chrys, I like to keep things on the level and do things properly. It usually pays off in the long run.

    Blogoratti, thanks!


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