One of the most exciting things about being an author is receiving a box full of brand new, pristine paperbacks. This box of treasure represents the months or years of hard work needed to get from an ethereal idea to actual words down on paper in black and white.
Shortly after publishing the thriller Bedsit Three I ordered fifty author copies direct from CreateSpace in the US. They were delivered by UPS and left at a convenient local pick-up point because I was out at the time of delivery. The parcel arrived much quicker than I expected and I was impressed by the service.
Two months down the line I had sold over 2/3 of that original delivery and, with a book-signing event arranged with a local community group for the end of January, I decided to order more copies. This time things didn’t go so smoothly. Again I was out when UPS called but this time they left a note indicating that when they attempted a future second delivery I would have to pay £36.89 in taxes to the driver. Apparently this was the VAT charged on the parcel by HM Customs & Excise. I wasn’t expecting this and panicked, calculating it would mean increasing my prices by around 75p per book – thus making it harder to sell.
I phoned UPS and they said the charge couldn’t be avoided. I contacted CreateSpace and they said customs charges were up to each individual country. Then I searched the internet and found this useful and reassuring CreateSpace forum post. It says that import VAT should not be charged on books coming into the UK and advises phoning the UPS Brokerage team on 01332 815514. I did this and was given a reference number to give to the driver when he attempted to deliver the parcel a second time. This reference number tells him not to impose the charge.
If this charge had been imposed on my first consignment I may well have paid it out of ignorance. So beware when ordering/receiving CreateSpace author copies into the UK!
Bedsit Three is “a psychological why dunnit reminiscent of Barbara Vine/ Ruth Rendell” – Amazon reviewer.