Tag - self-publishing

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Tools for Self-Publishing: KDP VAT Calculator
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Are Readers Satisfiers or Optimizers? Should Writers Be Satisfiers or Optimizers?

Tools for Self-Publishing: KDP VAT Calculator

Starting January 1, 2015, Amazon KDP is switching to making all self-publishers include VAT for all Amazon stores in EU countries.  In other words, we have to add the tax into our list price for any sales in the European Union, or the tax will be deducted from the listed price and our actual sale (and royalties) will be based on a price lower than what we listed.  See here for more information (click on EU VAT on the left).

Since the VAT rate is different in all European countries, this is a pain, so I thought I’d write myself a little calculator to reuse.  Since I figured I wouldn’t be the only one who’d need it, I’m writing it as a blog post.

Notes & sources:

  • VAT rates taken from this Amazon KDP page, which also lists royalty brackets.
  • The prices automatically round to two decimal places — I do not know if Amazon rounds in the same way.  If you are close to the edge of the royalty bracket, I recommend doing your own calculations, double-checking with Amazon, or adding one cent/penny to the calculated prices just in case.
  • VAT is calculated based on where the customer lives, not where the store is based.  So everyone else in Europe shopping in these stores will have a different VAT rate deducted, and there’s no way to customize by purchaser address.  If you want to ensure that your list price remains above a certain level for all EU customers, multiply by 1.27 to account for the highest VAT rate (Hungary at 27%).  If you want to adjust to cover only countries that might give you significant sales, here is a list of VAT rates by country. Pick the places you think you sell a significant number of books and make sure the Amazon stores those people are likely to frequent are increased by that percentage (so, say, if you have a large Irish audience, make sure your Amazon UK price is multiplied by 1.23 instead of 1.20, to cover Ireland’s 23% VAT).  Note, however, that for any VAT inclusion (including what this calculator suggests) you’ll be artificially increasing prices for everyone who shops at that particular Amazon site but doesn’t pay VAT or has a lower rate.
  • I am not an expert on VAT or a tax professional; this is only a calculator for convenience.  I make no guarantees on the correctness of what I’ve said here or that these prices will give you exactly what you want.
  • If anyone has any corrections, additions, or ways to make it better, please let me know in comments!

Are Readers Satisfiers or Optimizers? Should Writers Be Satisfiers or Optimizers?

Science books in Senate House

By Tom Morris (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

I was talking with a friend the other day about the two loose groupings of consumers: satisfiers and optimizers.  Satisfiers buy the first thing that meets some level of predetermined standards, and then they go on their merry way.  Optimizers need to compare and contrast until they are sure they are getting the best product relative to the rest of the market, and then they purchase.

Me, I’m an optimizer in far more product categories than I’d like to be, and I’m trying to be less of one.  I think I’d save a lot of time and not be any less happy if I made purchases more quickly and with a minimum of research.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Point is, my friend’s and my conversation veered toward advertising for products.  He explained that a lot of times companies will look at (1) whether their consumers are likely to be satisfiers or optimizers, and (2) where they are in the market relative to everyone else.  For instance, far more people are optimizers when it comes to large purchasers like cars.  So car commercials are far more likely to compare themselves to other brands and try to convince you that they are the best model.

On the other hand, for daily sundries that tend toward consumers using a satisfier model, companies are more likely to try to breed brand loyalty and get people to try them, find they’re “good enough,” and stick with them.

I started thinking about all this in reference to book production.

You see, considering I’m an optimizer as a consumer, it just makes sense to me to be an optimizer as a producer.  I can’t imagine putting out a book that was any less than the best I could possibly make it.[1]

This is probably the way I’ll continue writing books, because I’m a Type-A perfectionist and I’ll want to claw out my brain if I publish at a lower quality standard.  But I’m really not sure it’s the optimal way of writing books in general.

Because: let’s say that after the second draft or so my books ended up at, say, 97 percent of what I could make them, and it took months to cover those extra three percentage points.  If I said, “screw it” and released at 97 percent, those months could be spent writing the next book — the next book, which I could then release a lot faster, when it was at 97 percent.

And how would this affect my sales?  I’d probably make more money due to the quicker release schedule and the fact that enough of my readers are satisfiers (with a standards threshold at a level that wouldn’t cut out my 97-percent-of-what-I-could-make-it writing) for my slight quality drop not to matter in whether they buy the book.  (Since most readers aren’t going to buy just one book, it probably makes sense for readers to act as satisfiers when book-buying anyway.)

Personally, I’ve sometimes been annoyed when authors I otherwise enjoy have put out their next book and I read it and I feel that it’s good, but not as good as it could be.  I get ticked off as a reader.  But the thing is, they’re probably doing the smart thing!  They’re probably maximizing their own sales.

And the revelation to me here was that I’m betting those authors are acting as satisfiers with regard to their own work: they wrote a book they consider “good enough” to release, and according to the market, they’re right.  They then went on to write their next book.  It’s smart.  It’s savvy.

Damn, I should consider doing it, too.

Alas, all this is mostly out of interest’s sake, because I’m not sure I’m psychologically capable of doing it with my writing, even though part of me would really like to.  But you know, maybe there are other things I can approach with a satisfier mentality from the producer side — things like book promotion, blog posts, tweets, for instance.  Maybe there are things I can say are “good enough” rather than trying to make them the “best,” and thus free up plenty of revision time for . . . well, writing and editing that next book!  Because will my “best” be able to lead to optimizers choosing me anyway?  Will my production optimization really make such a difference that it would lead to me being the top of the market for consumer optimization to choose?

Probably not.  Probably my “good enough” and my “best” will just meet slightly different thresholds for satisfiers, and optimizers will more likely pass me by anyway, because come on, “best in the market” is a ridiculous goal to have.  So acting as an optimizer as a producer is still only meeting the demand of satisfier consumers, only my approach is as if my audience is optimizers, meaning I waste ridiculous amounts of time trying to at least optimize within my own psyche before putting things out into the world.  Instead, I should be attempting to reach a certain bar and hook everyone who will read according to that standard.  I should approach my work as a satisfier myself and put it out there when it’s “good enough.”

I’m still going to make my books the best I can make them, because, particularly with my self-published work, I’m the author and the publisher and I CAN and I’m stubborn that way.  But I think I’m going to start trying a lot harder to approach other areas of my life with a “good enough” mentality!

We’ll see how that goes.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. I haven’t actually heard anyone talk about being a satisfier/optimizer as a producer before — i.e., releasing a product that reaches some standard of quality versus releasing a product that is the best one can make it.  It’s possible that by using the terms this way I’m being completely confusing to anyone who actually knows anything about marketing!  I also want to note that the way I’m using the words, optimizing as a producer does not mean the product is going to be the optimal product for consumers.  Being an optimizer as a producer does, however, match the psychology of being an optimizer as a consumer — at least, so it seems to me — as, if you’re not willing to buy anything other than the best the market offers, you’re less likely to be willing to release anything that’s not the best you can make it.  tl;dr of this footnote: I’m not in marketing and may not actually know what I’m talking about at all; but I’m musing because I find it interesting!

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