The Self-Published Author and the 30%

Widdershins On Red VelvetI read this article today by David Gaughran on his blog, ‘Lets Get Digital – How To Self-Publish And Why You Should’. It’s on his ‘Practicalities’ page, and if you scroll down to the last topic you’ll come across this information:

Amazon, Smashwords, etc, are obliged by US law to withhold 30% of a self-published authors royalties unless they are provided with a Social Security Number? (for US authors) They hold on to that 30% until the end of the tax year. If it’s not claimed then it goes to the IRS.

International authors are subject to the same law, and they can apply to get that 30% released as well.

There are two ways to do this – get an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) from the IRS, which, from what I’ve just read, is a painfully long process, or you can get an EIN, (Employee Identification Number) also from the IRS, which is slightly less traumatic.

If you don’t live in the US and are, or are planning to, Self-Publish, these two posts give you step-by-step instructions on how to obtain these numbers.

How to get an EIN (Employee Identification Number) which I got from Catherine Ryan Howard’s Blog, Catherine, Caffeinated.

How to get an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number)

If, after reading these posts, you’re tempted to think it’s not worth the effort, take a moment to study this chart.


Just as writing is an art, it’s also a business, and making sure we get all that is due to us in return for our blood and words, we need to take care of business … and then get back to writing!


“No, there is literally nothing on the business side that I wouldn’t sacrifice in a heartbeat to have an extra couple of hour’s writing. Nothing” J.K. Rowling