Not long ago, Author AJ Adaire interviewed me on her site and we touched on self-publishing for Canadians. I mentioned that when I first started to publish my work, there wasn’t much information out there for Canadians. While most of the publishing steps are the same no matter where one lives, there are a few key differences. If you’re a non-US author interested in self-publishing some of your work, the publishing process will likely differ from the American process in the same areas as it does for Canadians.
If you’re using Canadian spelling, find an editor who’s familiar with Canadian spelling. There’s more to it than adding a ‘u’ to some words. The best place to look is the Editors’ Association of Canada. You can search for editors based on location and specialty. You can also post a job and let editors come to you.
Getting ISBNs in Canada
If you ask about ISBNs in any of the popular indie publishing hangouts, you might be told to get them from Bowker, even when you identify yourself as Canadian. Don’t go to Bowker. Every country has its own ISBN agency. In Canada, it’s Library and Archives Canada (LAC). We get ISBNs for free! You must be a Canadian publisher to get ISBNs from LAC.
To get started, you’ll have to apply for a publisher’s prefix through LAC’s CISS system. Once you have one, you can request a block of ISBNs and assign them to your books.
If you’re publishing an ebook, you might not need an ISBN. Many stores have their own numbering system (Amazon’s ASIN, for example). Also, many aggregators can assign an ISBN for you, but you might want to assign your own. There’s rarely a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to self-publishing questions, so you’ll have to decide what’s best for your book. There are numerous discussions about ISBNs around the Net.
I will point out that if you want to put your print book into CreateSpace’s library program, you must allow CreateSpace to assign the ISBN.
Getting CIP Data in Canada
CIP data helps librarians shelve your books. In the US, it can be difficult to get CIP data from the Library of Congress, so indie publishers are often advised to skip it. In Canada, Library and Archives Canada is happy to provide CIP data to any book published through a Canadian publisher, whether that publisher be a trad-publisher or a self-publisher. Getting the CIP data requires at least 10 business days, so if you want it (completely optional), don’t leave it to the last minute.
I’m not a tax expert, so all I’ll say is that if you’re going to sell your books through an American bookstore or printer (Lightning Source is an exception at this time), and you don’t want the IRS to keep 30% of your earnings, you’ll need to get an American Tax ID and then file a W-8BEN form with every company you deal with. You can get an ITIN (for individuals) or an EIN (for companies). It’s more difficult and time-consuming to get an ITIN, but if you’ll also be dealing with an American company as an individual (for example, you’re a hybrid author who also has stories with trad-publishers), you’ll want an ITIN. The best way to go for an ITIN is to find a certified IRS acceptance agent in Canada. If you want an EIN, here’s a great set of instructions from Catherine Ryan Howard (read through the comments, too).
If you assign a LAC ISBN, it will expect you to deposit your book. Instructions here.
If you want to register your copyright, you do it through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Registering your copyright in Canada also covers all the countries that have signed the Berne Convention.
Unfortunately Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press still isn’t open to Canadians. You can still get your books into B&N through an aggregator like Smashwords or Draft2Digital. You can also ignore it. Again, up to you. That’s the only store I can think of that isn’t letting Canadians play in its sandbox. If anyone knows of others, please let us know in the comments.
There’s much more to publishing a book than I’ve touched on here. I wanted to highlight the areas that sometimes trip up Canadian authors new to the game.