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Friday, January 22, 2021

Comic Cuts - 22 January 2021


My efforts to get the four Gwyn Evans books up and running ran into a little snag this week. I was hoping to have them uploaded on Monday to a platform through which I could sell them but came unstuck on the first book. It all seemed to be going fine until I hit the last page where I was required to fill out a US tax form due to this being an American-based business.

It shouldn't be a problem, but I'm still waiting for confirmation that the form was filled in correctly. The Covid pandemic might be holding things up — I don't know how many staff there are at the firm and how many of them work on what ought to be a 100% secure element of their business.

What annoys me is that the reason for doing this is because it should mean I don't have to  deal with taxes, tariffs and VAT that has all come into play thanks to Brexit and which I will now have to charge on books sold into Europe. Different countries charge different rates and making sure I getting the slightest thing wrong might hold up delivery and cost me a customer; and filling out customs declarations is a job too far when you consider some of the slender margins I have on some of these books.

Postal costs have also soared to Europe and the USA. American postal prices jumped last July when they withdrew from the UN's Universal Postal Union. At the time the Royal Mail said that this would result in "A significant increase of more than 100% in the rates we pay for last mile delivery in the US from 1st July [2020]".

There was also Covid-related problems, especially in freight costs, which pushed up prices from 1 September 2020 to everywhere else in Europe and the wider world. 1 January also saw another round of increases, pushing up First Class post by 9p to 85p for a letter, and 22p for a large letter.

Small parcels, which is how I send out many of my books due to their weight, only went up 10p, possibly spared a heftier increase thanks to the increase in parcel post caused by the pandemic. Once that's over, I suspect parcel post will also increase in price again.

But my efforts to future proof myself from these problems has not worked out quite as I saw it. Ah, well. I'll get there in the end, although I do sometimes find it frustrating. Sometimes it would be great if I could just pay someone to sort it all out, or find a bit of kit that would make all the problems go away. Sadly, publishing on the tightest of budgets doesn't allow for that and I find myself wasting days on problems when I'd much rather be writing.

Talking of which... I'm going to make this a short column as I have some actual, honest-to-Dog paying work. Only a couple of articles, but very handy during this post-Christmas slump in sales. I've already started on them and having a bit of fun researching something I knew very little about.

Our column header relates to the (still) upcoming Gwyn Evans releases. Back in 2012, I wrote a biography of Evans. It's one of my favourite books, which I published in a heavily illustrated A4 format — still available from Bear Alley Books. But with the novels coming out in trade paperback, I thought it would be an opportunity to produce a cheaper edition of the book in the same trade paperback format. I've updated the bibliography a little to take in some discoveries made in the past eight years and I've made a couple of minor additions to the text, but — for those of you who already have a copy — it's essentially the same book. For newcomers, it's a story that's equally fascinating, funny and tragic. I'd love for you to give it a try.

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