How To Turn A Maze Into A Labyrinth

Well, the manuscript – and the cover – for my first novel, The White And Silver Shore, have been uploaded on CreateSpace. Hurray! They were both accepted at the initial stage last night, for Formatting Review. I wait with baited breath.

So this morning, I thought I would tackle a different aspect of this publishing malarky – the finances. This involves working one’s way through – yes, you’ve guessed it – a maze of information on Royalty Payments, Tax Deductions, Book Production Costs, Pricing and I’m certain a few other categories yet to be revealed.

My favourite section so far has been about the acquisition of an EIN (not a TIN) for the purposes of Exemption from Tax Withholding by Amazon on behalf of the IRS, courtesy of an International Treaty arrangement between my country (UK) and Amazon’s (US). This is one part of the requirement to complete an on-line Tax Interview, which is accompanied by an array of notes bearing the proud title of Tax Interview Help.

This magnificent set of instructions, which I have no doubt contains the answers to all my questions, including ones I didn’t even know I needed to ask, was almost impenetrable. Today is actually the third time I have tried to read this through, and at each attempt, I have been reminded of a Marx Brothers’ sketch which runs something along the lines of: “The party of the first party …” On each of my previous attempts, I have ended up switching films and going for “Let’s call the whole thing off”!

This morning, however, CreateSpace weren’t really going to let me go much further in my publishing quest without facing this demon. So I started to collate all the information I was reliably informed I would need to make the dreaded international phonecall to the IRS’s special helpline for the application of an Employee Identification Number (EIN), including calculating what time I could begin said phonecall, given that the UK’s clocks are currently five hours ahead of those on the ‘East Coast’.

By this stage, I was close to panic, which isn’t really like me. But something about phonecalls, timezones and uncertainty re necessary information, not to mention the atrocious behaviour of my dog when I ring someone (apparently, playing ball with accompanying squeaks, barks and whines is an essential ingredient of any good phone conversation) all colluded to make me feel this was going to be an impossible task. And various on-line comments and blogs I’d discovered on the subject seemed to confirm my misgivings.

So, before I began, I thought to take a look at the Tax Interview itself – rather stupidly, something I had not yet done, only something I’d read about. The first page required merely straight-forward information such as my name and address. Even in my current state of anxiety, I could manage this.

Having been exceedingly impressed by CreateSpace’s on-line processes so far, (they appear to automatically save anything you put in there and to regurgitate it in a more appropriate form when you need it again, offering you multiple opportunities to edit along the way,) I thought I would follow the Interview pages as far as they would let me go until the infamous EIN issue was raised.

To my complete amazement, and eternal gratitude, I discovered this morning that they’ve changed the procedure. I no longer need an EIN (only obtainable from the IRS themselves) but can use instead whatever my local taxing authority recognise as a TIN (Tax Identification Number). In this case, my National Insurance Number suffices (what one might call a NIN, I suppose). In a matter of minutes, I had exempted myself from Tax Withholding of my royalties – a task it has taken several months of courage-building to tackle. Duh!

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1/ A maze is an intrigue of misleading directions, a complex of pathways designed to get you lost, never taking you anywhere useful or enjoyable, and never allowing either escape or satisfactory conclusion.

2/ A labyrinth is a meandering pathway which only travels in one direction – albeit taking interesting detours along the way – its ultimate goal being a special destination at its heart, which allows a return journey from a changed perspective.

3/ A maze can be turned into a labyrinth by:                                                                                   a) finding the right way in                                                                                                             b) walking the path in trust                                                                                                           c) taking note of the scenery                                                                                               and d) not banging your head against every brick wall you encounter – especially the ones you create for yourself!


One thought on “How To Turn A Maze Into A Labyrinth

  1. As an expert in delaying decision making until the last minute I must applaud you for exquisite timing. The question now, however, must be ” Can you remember your National Insurance Number?”


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