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Self-publishing News: Unpacking The Brexit Trade Deal

Self-publishing News: Unpacking the Brexit Trade Deal

In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a close look at what the Brexit trade deal means for indies.

Dan Holloway head and shoulders

ALLi's News Editor Dan Holloway

Happy New Year to everyone. Tonight's #indieauthorchat on Twitter will get the year off to a wonderful start. Tim will be talking paranormal romance with Alexa Whitewolf. In our current self-publishing news podcast, Howard and I look back at last year's biggest story, Audiblegate. Which is also still current news.

Brexit Trade Deal

It is less than a week since the UK signed a trade deal with the European Union. The deal was ratified by the UK parliament with just a handful of hours remaining before the “transition period” ended. During much of 2020 the UK, despite no longer being a member of the EU, remained in regulatory alignment with it. That ended on January 1st. This has left many industries scrambling to get to grips with the implications of a document that runs to 1246 pages.

I am still, likewise, immersing myself in it on indie authors’ behalf. I figure that having spent many years here proclaiming my fascination for baroque bureaucracy that’s the least I can do. But it takes a while, so expect more updates! I know that Orna and others in ALLi are holding conversations with our industry partners to ensure you have the best information, and the best services, available.


As we always knew, what was bound to be a difficult learning curve has been further complicated by Covid, and the new lockdowns in England and other UK nations. One of the things that you may remember from the first lockdowns last year was that the global logistics infrastructure made very quick and wide-ranging changes to enable supplies of essential items to reach those who needed them most. This included Amazon warehouses changing their restocking priorities. I have not seen anything to suggest this will happen again, but watch this space. Logistics is a key fragility for people selling physical books. Those who are exporting already have an increased paperwork load as a result of the trade deal.

This means that anyone exporting into Europe has to provide customs papers outlining the contents of all packages they are sending. In the few days before the recent lockdown, I was able to establish that people’s local post offices were able to help greatly with this at the counter. Those who send books out can arrive at the post office with their packages. Post officers will provide, and help you fill, all the paperwork needed. Post offices, as an essential service, will remain open. But there will inevitably be longer queues, and people more scared about the potential health detriments of longer waits. And people will, rightly, be using the post rather than in-person visits to send many things. So resources may become stretched very quickly, meaning they have less time to go through paperwork with you.

Customs Declarations

If you want to handle the declarations for yourself, without having to spend time in queues or premises that you do not wish to, the full government guidance on what you need to do can be found on the government site here. It is not straightforward, but can be simplified by registering yourself so that each individual instance is simpler, and you can find out how to do that at the government site here.

The hope is that where you use a distributor, such as Ingram, they will handle this for you. ALLi is currently in talks about how this might work.

Society of Authors Statement

The Society of Authors has issued its own response to the Brexit deal. It is a very useful statement. And it has some really important highlights about changes to freedom of movement for freelancers, and potential changes to copyright law. But there is very little in there about those of us who actually run one-person publishing businesses.

Make Our Book: Spreading Indie Culture to a New Generation

More countries are introducing new rounds of lockdowns that include school closures. This has caused havoc for many parents and children. Including writers. But it also presents opportunities. I reported on the launch of Amazon Ignite a year or so ago, for example. This platform allows you to upload and sell educational materials in a number of formats that best suit the content, such as pdfs for workbooks.

And Make Our Book has been helping schools to produce their own books during lockdown. Students and teachers collaborate to produce material. And they then all get an insight into the whole publishing process, from formatting to distribution. It's a great way to introduce a new generation to writing and publishing. And that combination could be key to ensuring a healthy future for the indie way.

What the Brexit deal means in terms of logistics and bureaucracy, and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Share on X

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Help us fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months.

Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) – Zoom meetings the 2nd Saturday of each month

Over to You

Let us know about online events of interest to indies in the comments below.

Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. One potential upside is that UK authors will no longer be charged VAT on services from EU countries.

    This means, for instance, that authors in the UK who currently buy any service, such as ads, editing, cover design etc from a UK business can switch to buy that service from a supplier in the EU and avoid the 20% extra VAT payment.

    This will apply mainly to Amazon and Facebook ads, as many small UK editors and cover designers are not registered to charge VAT.

    BooksGoSocial in Ireland is one company now providing a range of VAT free services for authors in the UK, including managed Amazon and Facebook ads. There are others too around the EU.

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