Publishing as a Canadian

Now seems like an excellent time to mention that I am, in fact, Canadian. All those weird random Us in words? Totally intentional.1 And because I’m Canadian, there’s a few things that function more than a little differently for me on the legal side of things.


First and foremost: For most outlets, you do not actually need an ISBN.

There are benefits to having your own ISBN in some cases, though. It does allow you to list your own imprint instead of the distributor2 which is nice, though many of these places will sometimes designate you their own ISBN as well. I have chosen to get my own, personally.

Because I’m Canadian, ISBNs work a little differently here than they do in the US. In the US, you just buy them, but in Canada, you can get them free! All you have to do is go and request a login from Collections Canada. Once you have it, they will give you a prefix and you get 10 ISBNs at a time. Use them up, and then you can send in another request. It’s taken at most 24 hours for them to approve me for another 10. 

They do, however, ask that you make a Legal Deposit of your book to the Archive. When you do this, you will have two options: Open access or Restricted access. Open access means that the copy of your book will be publicly available to anyone looking through the digital archive. You don’t really want this if you’re looking to make money off of it, so be sure to select Restricted access. You cannot change this from what I’ve found after depositing it.

You don’t have to do this, technically. As in, they don’t check as far as I’m aware. It’s mostly an honour system thing. Because Canada.

Tax Forms

The other thing you really need to know is about taxes. Most of the companies are American or deal directly with Americans to the point that they might as well be American. And that causes some issues for us dear people from other countries. Such as all of the outlets taking 30% of all profits and having it all go directly to the IRS. 


Luckily, as a Canadian, I can use my SSN for… all of them now. You used to have to go through the process of calling a US tax office repeatedly until you got someone who would just do what you were asking instead of sending you to a complicated form that they might reject if you happened to fill it out with the wrong ink colour. Now, you can fill it out with your personal tax information and be on your way and that 30% will go down to 0%.3 This changes by country, so if you’re outside of the US and Canada, then you may have a different method.

I probably won’t be using it for much longer, honestly, and will be trying to switch it over to my TIN4 because I may not want all of this tied directly to my own personal tax information. I have gone through the trouble of registering Scrap Paper Entertainment as a separate business,5 but I have been slow to move the tax forms over. Mostly because I don’t currently know if they will take my TIN in the same way as they take my SSN.

And now that that’s out of the way, we get to move on to… more prep work.

  1. Except in some books, where I remember to get rid of those. It varies. []
  2. Smashwords, Createspace, etc. []
  3. For now, at least. Let’s hope that trade agreement with the US holds for just a little longer… []
  4. Tax Identification Number, I think? The one for my business []
  5. You don’t have to do this, but I did []

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