Can I sell my book on...

Hi all. During a conversation about which sites my book 'The Moon Thief' will appear on I was asked the question 'Can't you sell the book yourself like on a book stool in a market or on Ebay?' Well; can I? If so, are there any pitfalls or restrictions I need to be aware of?  I probabbly won't undertake the above (if permited) but it's an interesting query all the same.






  • Indeed you can.

    As you no doubt know, when you are logged in to your account you can buy your books at Cost price, and there are also small sliding-scale discounts the more you buy. Lulu do not insist on such exclusivity. Many do what you suggest, and even using their own ISBNs.

  • Hi Kevin, many thanks for the reply, perhaps I'll give the idea a little more thought. While you're there what's with this leagal stuff, do I need to suplly a W-8BEN as I'm a non US author?





  • scribblesalot


    You only need to supply a W-8BEN if you don't want the 30 % US withholding tax to be deducted from your royalties.

    If you don't supply the W-8BEN, 30 % of your royalties will be deducted as a withholding tax. Most countries have double taxation agreements with various other countries which allow a citizen exemption from tax on revenue which has already been taxed in another territory.


    So, for example, if you were in the UK you could ask for credit on the money which has been deducted from you by Lulu when you do your tax return.


    Say you earned the equivalent of ten pounds, and three pounds was deducted from you and paid over to the US Government. When you do your tax return you could choose to declare the seven pounds which you received or you could declare the ten pounds you received and ask for credit on the three pounds you have paid in the US.


    So, say you had to pay tax at the rate of 20 % in the UK

    £ 10 royalties x 20 % tax due             =                      £ 2 due to UK Government

    Tax already paid in the US                                         £ 3

    Refund due to you                                                      £ 1


    £ 7 net royalties at 20 %                                             £ 1.40 due to UK Government

    (this would mean that you have paid a total of £ 4.40 in tax instead of £ 2)


    If you had to pay tax at the rate of 40 % then the calculation would be

    £ 10 x 40 % tax due                                                    £ 4 due to UK Government

    Tax already paid in the US                                         £ 3

    Amount you now have to pay over                            £1


    £ 7 x 40 %                                                                   2.80

    (this would mean that you have paid a total of 5.80 in tax instead of £ 4)


    So it would be best to declare the full amount and then ask for exemption on the amount that was deducted from you by Lulu.


    Of course, if you have a W-8BEN in place you will need to declare the full amount of your royalties as no tax will have been deducted.

  • Hi Daniel, thank's for the reply, nice and clear. As I'm a new Author and this is my first publication may I ask your opininon as to whether I should suply the W-8BEN or let my accountant sort it out come my end of tax year.




  • It is entirely up to you. I would say that, unless you are going to be generating a huge amount of revenue, and would prefer that revenue sitting in your bank account earning interest rather than going to the US tax man, it is easier not to worry about the W-8BEN and then sort it out at year end.

  • It's a shame that Lulu do not have the same system as Amazon where one just fills in a very simple on-line form rather than obtaining, filling in, and mailing off an official thing.


    Lulu does, or did have, a registered UK office in London. If it still exists it's a shame that UK citizens cannot be registered as having a Lulu account in the UK and being paid from there.


    It's ironic really when many very major USA companies who trade in the UK get away with not the paying £billions in taxes on profits made on goods sold in the UK that they should.

  • Thanks for the info Daniel, if I were lucky to make a living out of writing I'd be more than happy to pay tax either way;

  • 't's ironic really when many very major USA companies who trade in the UK get away with not the paying £billions in taxes on profits made on goods sold in the UK that they should.'
    A good point.
  • Some authors buy, say, 20 copies of their book at cost price from Lulu, and sell them with a profit at a book fair or a church bazaar, where they have been either invited or authorized to join. If you have a marketing mind, you can contact schools and factories, and ask permission to offer your book to employees during breaks. Some have also tried their luck with supermarkets.  

    The basic principle of such sales is that the bigger the number of items displayed, the more chances you have to sell because consumers are attracted to big piles ("the big serving"), and shun sundry items that, inevitably, look like left-overs. If you don't have that many copies, put them on a cardboard box covered with attractive gift paper. If you can afford it, have an enlarged colour picture of your cover to  attract attention, hence the importance of a well designed one. Don't forget to bring plastic bags, in which you'll put the books before you hand them over to your customers. Never give them a copy unwrapped. The best bags are the plain black ones without any writing or logo on them.

    State a plain round price so that you won't have to give change or beg for it around - always a pathetic performance. Prices such $19.99 / £9.99 / 14.99€  instead of $20 / £10 / 15€ are just good for gullible consumers, and may irritate potential buyers with a critical mind still in working condition. Never forget you target people who read.

    For non-fiction, it is fair to inform schools and universities by e-mailing them your Lulu profile URL. You can also send a copy to a journal for review. 

    You can also put up your book for auction on e-Bay.

    There is nothing illegal in all this.


    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!






  • In Waterstone's one day, I noticed a chap stood to one side just inside, with a little stall with his own books on with the cover of his latest book on a huge billboard behind him. I thought I would have a chat with him.


    The gist was, indeed he was self-published, but he had around 5,000 at a time printed to keep the price down to non-POD prices, and he spent around £10,000 a year on marketing. After around 5 years he was just starting to break even. I forget his name.


    While I was in the shop for around 15 mins, I saw no one approach him, but I assume he stands there all day for perhaps a week, but that was just one method.


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