Stuff! That’s Going On!

January 11th, 2015

Well. Did you notice that it’s 2015 already? What the?

I’m working on My Immortals 7, which is Kynan and Maddy. I have 21 chapters so far. Everything is in the wrong order at the moment, but that’s actually fully expected. I’ll be doing another Regency novella scheduled for summer, too. After Immortals 7 and the novella, I start work on the Dark Elf story — the world for the story The King’s Dragon, with Mair and Dal Atul.

So. Here is a picture of  a rose I took back in November.

 

Bronze rose, Honey Dijon by Yours Truly

Honey Dijon by Yours Truly

Allow me to restate. I didn’t take the rose. I took the picture. Just in case you were wondering.

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Books Prices in the EU…Continued

January 3rd, 2015

France and Germany . . .

This is a continuation of my previous post on this issue.

I can’t find any confirmation that the fixed book pricing laws in place in France only apply to books in French. What I find is this explanation of the French law as of 2011:

lesechos.fr

C’est fait : la loi sur le prix unique des e-books a été définitivement adoptée par le Parlement français. Après le Sénat, l’Assemblée nationale a entériné mardi soir, par un vote quasi unanime, la proposition de loi UMP qui autorise un éditeur français à fixer le prix des ouvrages sous format numérique, comme c’est le cas pour le papier. Et cette règle s’appliquera aux libraires en ligne installés en France comme aux revendeurs installés à l’étranger comme Apple, Amazon ou Google. Sur le papier, le dispositif devrait donc réjouir les éditeurs, les libraires et aussi les distributeurs de produits culturels établis en France comme la FNAC qui redoutaient les distorsions de concurrence.

What this says according to my French with a confirmative (sort of) assist from Google translate, is that French PUBLISHERS set the price of their books and that all French booksellers and resellers must abide by that price. It also says that online sellers “settled in France” such as Amazon, Apple, and Google, are also subject to that law. So…. Assume for the moment that I am the publisher of my book on sale in France. I set my price and Apple, Amazon, and Google must comply with that price. Therefore (and I’m not a lawyer anywhere in the world) Apple should not be rounding up my prices in France.

Does this mean that I must give all vendors in France the same price? I see ambiguity on that point. The assumption of the law appears to be that publishers do not want their books discounted ever. There’s some indication that you could discount by no more than 5%.

When I look at Amazon.fr, I can see that the publisher for the French translation of Scandal is listed as J’ai Lu which is, indeed, the company that contracted for French rights to Scandal. My self-published books on Amazon.fr show the publisher as “cJewel Books” which is the imprint name I assigned to the ISBN and gave to Amazon as the publisher.

So…. I would seem to be a publisher in France for the purposes of the price law, which also suggests that I have been thinking about this in a slightly inaccurate way. In France, it’s not that all books must be the same price. It’s that publishers get to set the price and distributors and resellers, including Amazon, must sell the book for that price without discounts.

The law appears to be silent on whether I, as a publisher, can give different prices to different French vendors, because, I speculate, that state of affairs was not the point of the law. The law was intended to prevent discounts on the publisher-set price.

I have to wonder if this means Kobo is out of compliance with French law because it does not permit me, the publisher, to set the French price. I can only set the EU price.

Germany….

Germany has a law that is similar to France’s but also more than a century older. It, too, applies to publishers setting prices. According to this 2004 document from the Legal department of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association German Book Prices – PDF Publishers must provide the same price to all German vendors. From the document (which is in English):

The law is relatively short, as it consists of only 10 articles.
§ 1 reemphasizes that it is the overall intention of this law to protect books as a cultural good.

According to Art. 2 the law applies to all sorts of books, i.e. printed works. This includes not only printed books, but also music notes, cartography products like maps and globes as well as substitutions or reproductions of books.

According to Art. 5 the publisher or importer of a book shall determine the retail price of such book for the German territory. Foreign language books which are almost exclusively sold outside of Germany are not included in the law’s scope of application. (emphasis added)

Art. 3 obliges the vendor of the book to keep this determined price. Any retailer is forced by law to keep the fixed price. Consequently also the publisher himself has to keep its own fixed prices if he sells a book directly to customers. However, the law does not prevent the publisher to change such fixed prices at his discretion. He is free to adjust the applicable fixed prices according to market conditions or any other considerations he may have. (emphasis added)


According to Art. 8 publishers may cancel the fixed price if the edition of one particular book has been published for more than 18 months.

Note the two things I bolded there. Assuming the rules set out in this 2004 document have not changed, my English language version of, say, Scandal, would not be subject to this law. Maybe. Depends how you interpret “almost exclusively sold outside of Germany.” However, my German translations would be subject to this law.

Interesting. But none of this resolves the ambiguity. Nor does any of this solve the Nook problem, or, the Kobo one, or Apple rounding up.

 

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One Size Does Not Fit All – Books Prices in the EU

January 1st, 2015

So.

There’s this whole VAT thing with the EU, where blah blah blah. Pricing difficulties blah blah blah. Rock and a Hard Place.

Short Version

I’m very sorry to say that at Nook, I have set all my books to US only. For now, it won’t be possible to buy Nook versions of my books outside the US. I hate that. Hate. It. But Nook has made it impossible to correctly account for VAT and the laws in certain countries that require book prices to be the same everywhere in that country.

Amazon aggressively prices-matches Nook, including Nook in the UK. I know this because a few weeks ago it took Amazon UK all of 3 hours to price match a Nook UK price change to .99 while Amazon US did not match for a couple of days.

Nook Press does three things that make it impossible to comply with the laws.

1. They require US-based authors to provide a price that does NOT include VAT.
2. They allow only one price for the entire EU
3. You can choose US-only OR all three: US + UK + EU.

This means I cannot be in Nook UK, because that option also puts me in the EU.
This means it is not possible to comply with Fixed Price Laws.
It also means that I can’t be at Nook at all with books where my traditional publisher has only North American rights, but that’s been true forever. I’m just complaining is all.

As an aside, it is also impossible to comply with Nook’s expectation that my Nook prices will not be higher than the prices I set at other vendors.

If I keep my books on sale at Nook with the current state of affairs at Nook Press I would be unable to match my prices across the EU vendors AND I would have different prices at Nook.de, Amazon.de, iBooks de, etc when the law requires them to be the same. The same would be true of France. I would get a nasty-gram from Amazon informing me of the price discrepancies and, since I would be unable to address them, Amazon could either price match or remove my book from sale.

The problem of different German prices (or French etc) is not a price matching issue. This is a regulatory issue, and Amazon is the one who will hear from the German authorities about not complying with German law. Amazon might have to take my book off sale in order to continue doing business in Germany.

(I would expect Nook to be hearing from France and Germany about this when/if those authorities notice that Nook prices are out of compliance, which they will be.)

This is not a risk I wish to take. Since my Nook sales are something like 99% US, I suppose my decision affects only a few readers. (Please contact me if you are one of those readers.)

The Longer Explanation

Three of the major vendors for self-publishing authors, Amazon, iBooks, and Google, make it possible to behave like a normal business and set prices in the various EU countries that account for VAT and also price books to end in .99. I can decide whether I will round down to a .99 price or round up to one. They also allow authors to make sure their prices are the same across vendors where there are fixed price laws for books.

Kobo, for those who are interested, expects US users to provide an EU price that INCLUDES VAT. They also only have one price for the EU, but because it includes VAT, you can, effectively, provide the same VAT-inclusive price everywhere and remain in compliance with German and French laws, assuming you (alas) set the German and French prices to the same VAT-inclusive price everywhere else. Not very fair to the French, where VAT is so much lower, but it’s that or nothing.

Because Nook does not include VAT and also only has one price for the entire EU, there is no way to guarantee the price will be the same where it needs to be.

Kind of Snide Aside

I always wondered why Nook is inflexible about how you sell in countries outside the US. I thought it was peculiar that they said “because of the volume” it could take several weeks for a book to appear on the UK or EU sites. Today, the answer finally kicked me in the shins.

The only reason volume would be an issue for populating a website is if they’re doing it mostly by hand. The beauty of a database driven website is that once you have the webpage talking to the database (waving hands and leaving out the bits about horrific SQL queries) there is little difference between putting one record on a page or 1,000,000,000 records. And even if we’re talking about terrible query performance, the time to render even a million records is minutes and in no possible case is it weeks. The only thing that takes weeks in this scenario is the person you’re paying to put the records into excel. Or worse, the person who is entering the data by hand into the servers located in the EU.

Even Longer Explanation

Basically, if you’re selling books, the laws about how to comply with the taxing and pricing authorities in the European Union just got a lot more complicated. For those who are thinking they’ll just wait for the EU tax authorities to come knocking, I will say that you have misunderstood what could happen. If you are selling your books to the EU via Amazon and the like, you are selling to the EU because those vendors have a presence in the EU. If your book at these vendors is priced such that you jeopardize their compliance with EU laws, they will likely have to remove your book from those countries. So, no, Germany will not collect a euro of VAT from you. But your books are likely to be yanked from all the German vendors so, yes, no VAT paid to Germany, but no one in Germany is buying your books.

Slight Aside

If you are selling books from your website and you sell to residents of the EU without remitting the appropriate VAT to their country of residence, then you will have some exposure there. Probably you could get away with it, but that does not make it ethical to do so. I have no idea what the IRS might say during an audit when you have income from the EU and can’t prove you don’t have to pay State tax on it, perhaps, or maybe, (total speculation here) the IRS would say something like, Hmm. The US has a treaty with Germany in which we agree not to screw each other over taxes. I dunno. I think I don’t want to find out.

Back to the Even Longer Explanation

VAT varies across countries in the EU. Further, in some EU countries, books must be the same price at all places in that country. Thus, if you are selling a book in Germany, that book must be the same price everywhere it’s on sale in Germany. For DIY authors, that means if a book is Euro 2.99 at Amazon.de, it must also be 2.99 at the German iBooks, the German Google, the German Nook, the German Kobo, etc. The same is true in France: same price in France across all French venues.

In the EU, the price shown to purchasers includes VAT.

Now, in Germany, VAT is 19%. Thus, if a book is priced at Euro 2.99 in Germany, after the sale is made .48 goes to the German government, leaving the remainder of 2.51 to be split between the vendor and author. As an author, I care about the part of that 2.99 that does not include VAT because that’s the amount used to calculate my royalty.

In France, VAT is 5.5%. Thus, for a book priced at Euro 2.99, in France, after the sale is made .16 goes to the French government leaving the remainder of 2.83 to be split between the vendor and author.

At Nook, where I am providing ONE VAT exclusive price for the entire EU, that price must have the appropriate VAT added to it, and that VAT rate varies. Suppose I say, OK, my book is $2.99 (American). Google-fu says that’s Euro 2.48. A quick test at Nook gave Euro 2.47. Using 2.47:

Add 19% VAT for Germany and the price is 2.94
Add 5.5 VAT for France and the price is 2.61

Those are stupid prices to show consumers, but they are also prices I cannot guarantee will match the VAT inclusive prices I must give at EVERY OTHER VENDOR.

iBooks rounds up or down to .99 prices. I will NEVER be able to match Nook to Apple. Not ever except by total serendipity.

At Kobo, I give a single VAT INCLUSIVE price. So… which one do I pick at Kobo? iBooks Germany 2.99 or Nook Germany 2.94?

I could change the Nook EU price to 2.51 to give me a Nook Germany price of 2.99 and match Apple, Kobo, Amazon, and Google to that.

But then the French price at Nook becomes 2.65, which at Apple will be rounded up to 2.99 and …. boom. Not in compliance with French law. This is true as long as I have books on sale at Nook EU.

And that is why I no longer have books on sale at Nook EU. This is complicated enough as it is. Heck, I’m not even confident yet that I have managed to price everything as required, because I will tell you, iBooks did some crazy ass shit with prices that scares me, and Amazon’s VAT adjustment resulted in two of my US prices being raised. That’s not supposed to happen. But I know it did because a couple months ago I used Amazon’s pricing tool to reset some prices, which I logged so I could keep track, and also conformed at other vendors where Amazon recommended a price decrease (because I didn’t want to gouge others) and today, two of those Amazon books were back to the higher US price and therefore MORE than the price at other vendors.

::sigh::

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New Cover for Free Fall!

December 31st, 2014

I have a new cover for Free Fall, my My Immortals novella. I spiffied up the inside, too. Here’s the new cover:

Cover of Free Fall featuring a hot Asian demon

Cover of Free Fall

About Free Fall

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Resolve?

December 29th, 2014

As we close out 2014, I’ve been thinking about resolutions. I figure I have 6 weeks where I might actually follow a resolution. So, I need some good resolutions. Assuming that “Be a better person” type resolutions are a given, along with “be smarter about money” and “Eat Less Exercise More” here’s a few that come to mind:

1. Read more stories;
2. Look in the mirror before I leave the house (possibly disqualified for falling under the “be a better person” category?);
3. Get that body piercing I keep thinking about;
4. Take ALL the risks with the stories I write;

Anything else I should add?

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Dead Drop Print Book Giveaway at Goodreads!

December 21st, 2014

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dead Drop by Carolyn Jewel

Dead Drop

by Carolyn Jewel

Giveaway ends January 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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Winner!

December 21st, 2014

The winner of the book giveaway for the Cecilia Grant interview is:

Cristina

Watch your inbox for an email from Cecilia!

Thank you to everyone who entered!

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Happy Frogs. Also Owls. 12 seconds of sound (as video)

December 19th, 2014

I went outside tonight and ended up taking a 12 second video of what it sounded like. You may need to turn up your audio. That’s frogs. And then owls hooting. The video is black because, well, it was dark out.

I love listening to the frogs and the owls and it’s been so long since the frogs were this loud.

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Winners from the Christmas Hamper Contest!

December 19th, 2014

The winner of the Fortnum&Mason’s Hamper of Awesome is:
Karen K

Three gift cards were added. Those winners are:
Michelle V R
Linda L
Toni J

Emails have been sent to the winners!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered. I’d told Miranda, Grace, and Shana that I wished we’d asked for recipes, too, because every time I read the comments, I came away hungry!

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Interview and giveaway with Cecilia Grant!

December 18th, 2014

Interview and Giveaway!

Headshot of a smiling Ceilia Grant. She has curly hair


Cecilia Grant

Today, I am thrilled to have historical romance author Cecilia Grant visit my blog.

Woo-hoo!

I love her books more than is reasonable. I wish she wrote faster, but hey, no pressure, Cecilia!

As I put together this post, I’ve just finished reading her Christmas novella, A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong and I loved it so hard!! She’s one of my favorite historical authors and if you haven’t read her yet, you should. Really. She’s here to answer some questions, tell us about her book, discuss the Bigfoot problem, and offer a giveaway, so stay tuned! Details coming.

Cecilia Grant makes her home in the Pacific Northwest. She likes semicolons, chocolate-covered raisins, and historical sites with costumed reenactors. Her books have earned starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, Seal of Excellence and Reviewer’s Choice awards from RT Reviews Magazine, and Desert Isle Keeper designation from All About Romance.

Where to find Cecila

Website: http://ceciliagrant.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/cecilia_grant
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ceciliagrantauthor

About A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong

Cover of A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant - A smiling young woman in bed.

Cover of A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant

IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SIMPLE. . .

With one more errand to go–the purchase of a hunting falcon–Andrew Blackshear has Christmas completely under control. As his sister’s impending marriage signals the inevitable drifting-apart of the Blackshear family, it’s his last chance to give his siblings the sort of memorable, well-planned holiday their parents could never seem to provide.

He has no time to dawdle, no time for nonsense, and certainly no time to drive the falconer’s vexing, impulsive, lush-lipped, midnight-haired daughter to a house party before heading home. So why the devil did he agree to do just that?

IT COULDN’T BE MORE DELICIOUSLY MIXED-UP. . .

Lucy Sharp has been waiting all her too-quiet life for an adventure, and she means to make the most of this one. She’s going to enjoy the house party as no one has ever enjoyed a house party before, and in the meanwhile she’s going to enjoy every minute in the company of amusingly stern, formidably proper, outrageously handsome Mr. Blackshear. Let him disapprove of her all he likes–it’s not as though they’ll see each other again after today.

. . .or will they. . .When a carriage mishap and a snowstorm strand the pair miles short of their destination, threatening them with scandal and jeopardizing all their Christmas plans, they’ll have to work together to save the holiday from disaster. And along the way they just might learn that the best adventures are the ones you never would have thought to plan.

Did I mention I loved this story?

The Interview

Cecilia was gracious enough to answer a series of the kind of probing, insightful questions you can count on from Yours Truly. So, let’s get to it.

Q:   You have pets. They are un-literary, you say. How do you know they aren’t reading your WIP when you step out? Do you have pictures? We love pet pictures here.

Louise, a black cat with gold eyes lounging on a desk top

Louise The Cat

A: I’m reasonably confident the pets aren’t reading my WiP. My (daughter’s) cat is neither brawny nor motivated enough to try to get the laptop open, and my dog, whose cleverness only extends to getting a dog biscuit out of a Kong, would never be able to crack my passwords.

They’re good pets, though! Zorra (like Zorro, only female) is the dog and Louise  is the cat.

DogZorra_CG

Zorra the Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q:  You are given a choice of the following all-expenses paid (including taxes) vacations, including everything taken care of at home while you are gone. What do you choose and why? Which one is least appealing and why? In case you hate the traveling part of travels, please assume that you are instantly transported to your destination.

  • Nepal
  • Manhattan
  • Glam-camping
  • Narnia
  • Tahiti


A:
You know, I’m not a fan of camping and I was all ready to say that I suspect there’s no such real thing as “glam-camping” and that it’s just a scheme to trick people who should know better into going camping…

…but then I remembered this episode of Oprah I saw where Oprah and her friend Gayle went camping in Yosemite. They opened up a bottle of wine and toasted marshmallows and invited the people from the next campsite to come hang out, and I thought if I could sit around toasting marshmallows and drinking wine with Oprah, it would be about the best day ever. So I pick glam-camping, as long as you can guarantee Oprah will be next door.

Worst vacation would be Narnia, hands down. Anyone who thinks it would be fun to go to Narnia must never have read the books. Half the time your life’s in danger and the other half it’s like being in Sunday school. What kind of vacation is that?

NOTE From Yours Truly, Carolyn: There is such a thing as glam-camping– Glamping as I was reminded when I looked for this link. I want to go glam-camping in this yurt. It’s in the Trinity Alps here in California. It has wi-fi. Writing Retreat is written all over it. You in, Cecilia? Who else?

Q: You live in the Pacific Northwest. How do you deal with the Bigfoot problem?

A: What is this Bigfoot “problem” of which you speak? Bigfoot is a feature, not a bug.

Q: If someone messed up the space-time continuum such that the Regency period never happened, what historical period might you write in instead, and why? Assume that all other historical eras remain unchanged.

A: This is a surprisingly tough question! I grew up reading the Little House books, and I love reading memoirs of life in that era/setting. But any story of US pioneers is also a story of Native people losing their land and way of life, and for me that would cast a pretty big shadow over any HEA I might write.

Maybe mid-19th-century Boston and environs, when Hawthorne and Emerson and the Alcotts and Margaret Fuller and Frederick Douglass were all around. That seems like a time of so much exciting fermentation and cross-pollination, with lots of ways for women to be active out in the world.

Q: Your lovely Christmas novella features falconry. Can you talk a bit about why you chose that? What research did you do?

A: My local zoo has a raptor exhibit, with a rotating cast of whoever they happen to be rehabilitating at the time: I’ve seen owls, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, and even a turkey vulture. If you’re there at the right time, a docent will come out and talk about the birds, and maybe even give a flying demonstration. (And no, they don’t always come back! A few years ago a gyrfalcon took off and two weeks later they found her scavenging at the city dump.)

It’s just a super-cool thing to see, so when I started writing Regency I knew I’d eventually want to write a character who had that hobby.

As far as research, there are lots of falconry clubs in the UK that maintain helpful websites, and lots of history sites that cover falconry too. I wish I’d been able to work in more details, like the stylish leather hoods they wear when they’re being trained. Maybe in some future book.

Q: Fun fact about your book?

A: I came up with the opening scene – he encounters her on a road and is poleaxed at first sight – long before I knew what hero and heroine it belonged to or what their story would be. It’s sort of a mashup of two movie scenes that stuck with me:

1. At the beginning of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, when Jeremy Irons first spies Meryl Streep out on the seawall at Lyme Regis. She’s got a hooded cloak on, she’s got her back to him, waves are splashing dramatically over the wall and then she turns and looks back at him. The camera zooms slowly in on his face and you can see he’s a goner from that moment.

2. God forgive me for this problematic source material, but Captain John Smith’s first sight of Pocahontas in the Disney cartoon. Disney Pocahontas is about six feet tall, broad-shouldered, standing with her feet apart, fearless, in her minidress with her long dark hair wafting on a convenient breeze. And you know that this guy, whose experience of women up until now has probably been of dainty corseted types with hair pinned up and floor-length skirts, is in that moment having the doors blown off everything he thought he knew about what a woman could be.

So, yeah. I dialed it all down a bit, and the story headed off in its own direction, but those two threads are definitely in that scene.

Q: Best and worst thing about writing books?

A: I think the best thing is finding out that something you wrote connected with someone. It’s this sort of sidelong style of communication that just really appeals to me.

The worst is when it’s not working. Not being a plotter, some days I feel like a rat in a maze, coming up against a dead end and not knowing at what point I made a wrong turn, where I should have gone instead, or whether there even is a way out of this one. When it’s not working I wake up in the middle of the night feeling sick.

Q: Favorite dessert? You can name up to three because sometimes dessert is contextual. So, the context might be important along with your answer.

A:
3. Trader Joe’s cookie-butter candy bars.

2. Really good creme brulee in a creme-brulee-appropriate context, like Paris.

1. A friend of mine makes chocolate lasagna. She actually makes chocolate pasta, and layers ricotta cheese and chocolate chips and other stuff I don’t even know in between the chocolate noodles. It’s to die for. At one point in my life I moved 1400 miles just to be closer to it.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m superstitious about discussing specifics before a project is locked in. But I will say I’m working on several related books, they’re all Regency-set historical (no desire to venture into contemporary or erotica at present), and as of now they don’t feature dukes. So, more of the same, I guess

Thanks again for having me, and for compelling me to spend time contemplating my favorite desserts.

Giveaway!

Cecilia is giving away a Kindle version of her novella and a backlist book of the winner’s choice in print or eBook format of choice. To enter, read and follow the rules below:

The Rules and How to enter

No purchase necessary. Must be 18 to enter. Void where prohibited. Family and/or employees of Carolyn Jewel or Cecilia Grant may not enter. Winner randomly selected from among the qualified entrants. The winner will be notified by email. An alternate winner will be selected if the winner does not respond within five (5) business days. Contest closes at 11:59:59 PM PST on Saturday December 20, 2014. International OK.

To Enter: Leave a comment to this post before the contest closes. It would be awesome if you completed the following question, but any comment will do:

Glamping sounds like it would be . . . .

Go!

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