The idea that you can upload an ebook and be on sale in 24 hours is a bit of a myth. I decided to learn about the process using my last novel Unseen Unsung (published as print book by Threadgold Press in 2008).
Step 1. The original printers, Antony Rowe, converted the novel into the two forms of ebook (.epub and .mobi files) for the ibook and Kindle platforms respectively. This entailed writing a new imprint page as a pdf and a remastered cover as a JPG (I wanted to keep the original cover by Anthony Furness, but sharpen up the graphics so they would be visible in thumbnail pics). This took 2-3 weeks. So far so good. Step 2. I could now see and read my ebook on my iPad and I could email it to anyone, but to sell it I needed to upload it to iTunes and Amazon KDP. Both of these are US-based and pay taxes in the US (see http://kareninglis.wordpress.com/paying-uk-income-tax-on-book-royalties-uk-authors/). If you live elsewhere you must have either an ITIN number (as a foreign individual), or an EIN number (as a foreign publisher). The first requires a complicated and lengthy process involving posting your passport to the US, the second can be done on the phone to the US. See http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/02/24/non-us-self-publisher-tax-issues-dont-need-to-be-taxing/ though this is a shifting process, so read the post and the later comments.
In my role as Threadgold Press I opted for the latter, but it took up to a week of getting my head round the forms (SS-4 and W-8BEN), the process and choosing the right time and day to phone. Once I had got to this point, it went as planned and I obtained the magic EIN number for my SS-4, in order to fill in the W-8BEN, so I will not be liable to tax in the US.
Step 3. Try to upload to iTunes. This should have been straightforward, but for reasons still unclear, I am not receiving a verification email from them. I am in touch with their helpline and have had a call and several emails from the iTunes Support, who are on the case and will I am sure sort this out. This has lasted a week.
Step 4. Try and upload to Amazon KDP. I have spent a couple of hours filling in details and, rather importantly, reading their Terms, which are frankly alarming. I have now ‘agreed’ and waived my right to almost everything you can think of. I have filled in their online W-8BEN with my magic EIN number and now have to wait for approval of this. I have no idea how long this will take – but I understand it may be weeks.
This is the simplified version of events so far, it doesn’t include things like the revised W-8BEN having no box for an EIN number… I hope the next post will show the end of the process.