Tag Archives: Australia

How to apply for an ABN – the basics

After the near disaster of my previous attempt to reactivate my ABN, I thought I’d better do a quick how-to for others.

FIRST!

The website you need to go to is:

https://abr.gov.au/

[Note: no www required]

That web address will take you to this screen:

Whether you’ve never had an ABN before, or want to reactivate an old one, this part of the process is the same: if you’re a sole trader, you have to click ‘For Business, Super funds & Charities’ [as shown above].

[Note: there are unscrupulous companies that hire people as employees but then force them to get ABNs in order to avoid having to pay entitlements such as holiday pay, sick leave etc. The government will NOT issue an ABN in these circumstances. In order to qualify as a sole trader, you must be carrying on some kind of business of your own. Being a self-published author qualifies me for an ABN].

Next, click ‘Applying for an ABN’

Then, scroll down the page until you reach this:

Click the bright yellow ‘Apply for an ABN’ button as shown above.

The next screen involves ticking checkboxes:

Click the screenshot to see a larger image.

For the second checkbox from the top, it says “I have the TFN, date of birth and name…” etc.

TFN stands for Tax File Number. If you are a sole trader, the only Tax File Number you will need is your own. Tick the checkboxes and then click ‘Next’.

The next screen is for your ABN entitlement. Click ‘Sole Trader’ and then click Next:

Remember, this is a government website so click the button for ‘Sole Trader’ again, then select the answers as shown below:

When you get to ‘What is the nature of your activity?’, click the small down arrow as shown and select ‘In the form of a business’. To be honest, none of the options seemed particularly relevant but this one worked for me so I guess it’s the general purpose one. Again, click Next to continue.

The next two sections – Application Detail and Business Information – are fairly self explanatory. The only tricky bit is if you’re seeking to reactivate an old ABN. If you don’t know what it is, you can check the ‘Look up’ table here:

http://www.abr.business.gov.au/Tools/AbnLookup

Or you can follow the ‘Look up’ link on the screen itself:

To find your old ABN, simply type the name associated with it into the search box and start the search.

If your ABN was cancelled through lack of interest, you won’t find it on the first page of results as they are for active ABNs only. Click the tab for ‘All ABNs’ :

So long as you typed the name correctly, the ‘All ABNs’ page should display your old business name at the very top of the list. Type, or copy/paste the ABN into the Application Detail form.

The second page of the Business Information section is where you type in your personal details, including your Tax File Number. Click Next.

If you are reactivating an ABN, the next page will have a big red error message saying that the system has detected that you already have an ABN…

-facepalm- “No? Really?”

Ignore this and click Next again. You won’t see the error message again, or at least not that one.

The next screen is a little odd:

There is a text box that allows you to type in your ‘…main business activity’. For mine, I mentioned needing an ABN to print my books via IngramSpark. I assume the word ‘print’ triggered something because when I opened the list of categories [see above], they ALL seemed to be related to printing. Anyway, click the category that most closely matches your business and then click Next to continue.

The next screen is also a little odd, or perhaps this is simply how the bureaucratic mind works. You will be asked to enter the business address details. One of those details is the email address, but instead of asking you to type the email address twice, one after the other [as most other websites do], the ABR site only asks for it once. You click next and it flags an error message. Essentially, you have to check that the email address you entered is correct. -more facepalm- That’s all it is. Click Next to continue.

This next one has to do with the business phone number, and it’s a fudge. I imagine the form was designed back when landlines were the no. 1 form of business communication, even for sole traders. Then, everyone started using mobile phones for their businesses. Recognizing this, the form was…changed, but not properly.

If your mobile phone is your only business number, do NOT type it into the box clearly labelled as ‘Mobile’. Type it into ‘Business’ as shown below:

Put the first 4 digits into the area code box and the last 6 digits into the number box…-sigh-

Almost done.

Under ‘Reason for application’, select the closest match from the drop down list.

For ‘Position held’ type ‘Sole Trader’.

Before you click Submit, try to print off the completed form. It didn’t work for me, which is one reason I took screenshots of everything, but it may work for you. When you’re done, click the Submit button.

The last screen is a confirmation screen. As I was simply reactivating an old ABN, I was told that it was active again. You may be told that it will take xx days.

Congratulations!

Meeks


Tips & Tricks for CreateSpace

The following tips can all be found on Twitter, but I thought people might want to see them all in one place. A few are for Aussie authors only and are shown in green.

PRINTING Tips 4 Absolute Beginners

  1. Print-On-Demand is new tech that allows books to be printed one at a time instead of in hundreds.
  2. Print-On-Demand means authors don’t have to buy 100’s of their own print books.
  3. 3 biggest Print-On-Demand printers are CreateSpace [Amazon], Lulu and IngramSpark.
  4. Print-On-Demand works with standard trim sizes only. For table of trim sizes see : https://www.createspace.com/Special/Pop/book_trimsizes-pagecount.html
  5. Trim size = physical size of book after pages glued inside cover & trimmed.
  6. Page size templates for all trim sizes can be found on CreateSpace forums: https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1323
  7. Convert Word A4 pages to trim size pages via the Word Page Setup dialog box.
  8. ISBN = 13 digit no. that identifies your book worldwide.
  9. Buy your own ISBN or accept the free one offered by CreateSpace.
  10. In Oz you can buy ISBN from Thorpe-Bowker or accept free one from CreateSpace.
  11. As a rule of thumb, print, ebook & audiobooks all need their own ISBN unless you publish via Amazon.
  12. Books printed via CreateSpace are listed on Amazon automatically.
  13. To publish Kindle ebooks go to: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/
  14. Amazon supplies ebooks with ASIN identifiers so ISBN not strictly necessary.
  15. If you want to ‘go wide’ & sell with other retailers as well as Amazon, your own ISBN is a must.
  16. CreateSpace will not accept Word documents. It accepts only PDF files.
  17. File/Export completed Word doc. to PDF. Then upload that PDF to CreateSpace. 
  18. With CreateSpace, royalty = List Price – Print costs.
  19. With CreateSpace, Print costs= Sales Channel % + Fixed Charges + Per Page Charge.
  20. With CreateSpace, Standard sales channel % = 40% of List Price, Expanded sales channel % = 60%. 
  21. Spine of cover = trim size & no. of pages. See: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do 
  22. Total page no. of book = pages AFTER conversion to chosen trim size [not A4 Word pages].
  23. Amazon deducts 30% withholding tax from each sale. Aussies can claim exemption to reduce tax to 5%.
  24. Withholding tax exemption: US TIN = Australian Tax File No.
  25. Aussie authors must deposit 1 copy of each published book with the National Library of Australia: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit
  26. Aussie authors must also deposit 1 copy of each published book with their state library: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit/australia-wide
  27. For Legal Deposit FAQ see:https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit-faq

I hope these tips provide some quick help if you’re stuck, or still trying to make sense of all the information out there on printing with CreateSpace.

And now for the obligatory book promotion:

If you want to print a ‘simple’ novel and need step-by-step help, you can buy my book – ‘How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace’ – on Amazon. The book comes in an expensive, full-colour paperback OR in a very inexpensive, full-colour ebook:

Clicking the image will take you to my Amazon Author Central page as the Look Inside feature isn’t working.

The only Another problem with the ebook version is that it will only work on the Kindle Fire tablets or via the Kindle app [on other tablets and pcs].

After all the feedback I received on the colour screenshots vs the grayscale screenshots, I made the decision to stick with colour. But only the Fires have colour so…Sorry. 😦

Okay, the ‘How to…Novel’ contains literally everything you need to know about:

  • Preparing your novel in Word
  • Converting it to a PDF
  • Uploading that PDF to CreateSpace

That said, I’ve cut all extraneous options out to avoid confusing first-time Indies, but I did include some appendices at the back specifically for Australian authors. This one really is for absolute beginners.

But not everyone wants to print/publish a novel. Some people might want to publish a memoir full of family photos, or maybe a cookbook full of their favourite recipes. Unfortunately, non-fiction is a trickier beast than the ‘simple’ novel.

For non-fiction you will need:

  • A Table of Contents,
  • Captions for the photos/pictures
  • A Table of Figures for the captions,
  • An Index to make finding information easier
  • And possibly Headers for the main sections, to make ‘browsing’ easier.

All these high end functions can to be done in Microsoft Word [if you are using Word] but they’re not exactly easy as I discovered when I first began working on these ‘How-to’s’. So the second book – ‘How to Print Non-Fiction with CreateSpace’ – is full of screenshots and examples [over 150] that walk not-so-expert Word users through all the trickier stuff:

Again, the Look Inside isn’t working so I’ve directed the image to take you to my Author page on Amazon.

As with many things though, just knowing what to do is rarely enough. The step-by-step method used in both ‘How-to’s’ lays out the exact sequence in which tasks are to be done in order to avoid some of pitfalls that can crop up in Word. For example, did you know that the Word Index function automatically inserts a Continuous Section Break at the start of the Index [table]? Well, it does, and this Continuous section break can play merry hell with any manual section breaks you may have applied.

So ‘How to Print Non-Fiction with CreateSpace’ is not for the faint-hearted, however it, too, is available in both print and ebook format on Amazon. The same caveat re the Kindle Fire applies to the ebook version of ‘How to…Non-Fiction’ as well.

Thanks for bearing with me. Normal transmission now resumes with a picture of the forest of tomato plants growing on my deck:

I’m preparing for an orgy of Passata making!

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Sam Dastyari – one rotten apple or just the tip of the iceberg?

I’ve been having a conversation over on The Passive Voice that has disturbed me greatly. Not because it was unpleasant or rude, but because it has made me feel terribly naive at the ripe old age of 65.

To backtrack a little, the conversation began as a discussion about Amazon. We’re all pretty much Indie writers on TPV so Amazon features rather often in our conversations. Anyway, these are the relevant bits of a recent conversation between myself and Felix J Torres:

FJT: ..They [Amazon] are definitely being demonized like Microsoft ca 1995.
Hopefully, unlike MS in those days, they have more than one part time lobbyist in DC and have a few bought and paid for politicians in their pocket.

Me: ..So cynical! I most sincerely hope Bezos is smart enough not to have to do business like that.

FJT: ..If he doesn’t Amazon will get the same treatment Microsoft got for not contributing enough corporate funds to the politicians….

All that is a matter of record.

As is the fact that MS now has one of the larger contingents in DC and regularly provide PCs and free software to Congress people…

Me: ..I’m not denying it happens under the label of ‘lobbying’, but Amazon succeeded despite not doing what all the other companies were doing. If Bezos caves to the soft-corruption game of ‘gifting’ politicians, the ones to suffer long term will be /us/.
Apologies but Amazon is the /only/ large company that I admire. [I am so cringing now]

FJT: ..Well, of course consumers suffer.
The cost added by the politicians and bureaucrats gets added to the sale price….

Once one player alerts the politicians there is money to be had in a market they don’t back off. Rather they descend en masse…

Bezos would have to be an idiot to hear all the baying dogs calling for a lynching of Amazon and do nothing despite of what happened to Microsoft.

And he isn’t.
Amazon’s publicly reported lobbying has been growing steadily. Even faster than their online sales are growing…

Me: ..So there is open corruption that everybody knows about and accepts as normal?
In certain much maligned countries that might be known as ‘baksheesh’.

FJT: ..

Oh, just because it’s common knowledge doesn’t mean it’s accepted.

But every once in a while a congressman gets caught and arrested with a brown bag with $30K. (Seems to be the going rate in the House. Senators are a lot more expensive.)

Most politicians aren’t that blatant and merely call it “serving their constituents”. And many wrap themselves in principle like “protecting competition” or “looking out for the little people”.

Me: ..A member of the Labor party here in Australia – Sam Dastyari – was caught getting cosy with some Chinese business man, twice. He was finally kicked out but now I wonder whether he wasn’t just the tip of the iceberg, the one blatant idiot who got caught.
Could I get any more disillusioned?
I will never understand why so many Americans picked a certain person to be their ‘champion’ against the swamp, but I’m starting to understand why they need a champion in the first place.

I have only quoted what I thought were the relevant parts of the conversation, but if you’re interested, you can find the whole thing here:

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2018/01/why-amazon-is-the-new-microsoft/#comment-408446

Just scroll down a bit.

So, is this something everyone else already knew except me?

I would like to think that Australia is less caught up in this nudge-nudge-wink-wink epidemic of greed, but I’m not a complete fool. How many more Sam Dastyari’s are there amongst our politicians? Do they all take bribes of one sort or another? Is that why, once the politics dies down, nothing is ever done to change this bloody situation?

I’ve long thought the  concept of lobbying was wrong: in a democracy, the only people influencing politicians should be the voters. And yes, I know lobbyists are voters too, as are CEO’s of huge corporations blah blah, but if this bribery is as rampant as it appears, then our democracy is just a great big off-colour joke. 😦

Not happy Jan.

Meeks


Politics – do we really care?

I’ve always had a problem with ‘-isms’ – communism, socialism, facism, capitalism, republicanism, you name it – because they all seem to miss the point about people. Homo Sapiens doesn’t give a flying fruit bat about politics until things go wrong.

I was a kid in the late Menzies era of Australia [1949-1966], and I remember hearing some adults moan about elections while others moaned about the general apathy of the Australian voter. You see, in Australia, we have compulsory voting…and the times were good.

In fact, by the early 60’s, the populations of the Western world were better off, generally, than they had ever been before. Not quite the age of surplus envisioned by Marx, but close, and some of us really were able to live ‘…from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.’ That’s what the Age of Aquarius, Flower Power and Free Love were really all about.

Yet, on an individual level, despite the lack of scarcity, we still suffered from greed and envy and other ‘first world’ problems as we see-sawed between co-operation and competition. Because that is how the human animal is made – neither saint nor sinner but a combination of both.

And in a roundabout way, our dual nature is exactly why compulsory voting should be mandatory in all representational democracies. Voters are human and apathetic…and the silent majority doesn’t give a shit. That is why we have to be forced into protecting democracy, because democracy only works if the apathetic majority moderates the extremes on both the Right and the Left.

If I had my way, I would do away with all career politicians entirely. Instead, I would replace them with ordinary people, plucked off the street as for jury duty. These reluctant amateurs would bring their own strengths and weaknesses to the table, but their very reluctance might result in some genuine ‘…government of the people, for the people, by the people’.

Human beings won’t change, ever. That’s why we have to devise better systems to make it possible for this disparate tribe to live together in mutual protection and safety.

Only by understanding and working around our own weaknesses can we avoid going the way of the dinosaur and the dodo.

May 2018 be a better year than 2017.

Meeks


Coal vs solar? No contest in China

The world is quickly abandoning coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels. But that’s not the end of the road for coal mines—in many countries they’re coming back to life as solar farms. Over the weekend, the world’s biggest floating solar project began operating in the eastern Chinese city of Huainan, which accounted for nearly 20%…

via Dead coal mines everywhere are being reincarnated as solar farms — Quartz


Lest I forget – Thursday, December 7, 2017

I’m hopeless with dates so I wanted to commemorate the day on which marriage equality became law, here in Australia. I’m so proud. 🙂

-hugs-

Meeks


A Proud Australian

Yesterday marked a special day in Australia. We voted ‘Yes’ to equality and a fair go. And we voted ‘no’ to bigotry.

As a nation, that’s cause for celebration, but the moment would have tasted even sweeter if it had marked the day marriage equality came into law.

Because it’s not there yet. This postal vote was not compulsory. It was also not binding. That means the politicians in Canberra can dick about forever and a day, delaying the inevitable just to pander to party factions. The result of the vote had barely been made public and already a Rabid Right politician was spruiking a marriage equality bill that would grant the right to marriage but would also water down anti-discrimination laws already in place!

I hope the Rabid Right enjoys its moment in the sun, because if they mess this up, none of the Liberals will stay in power for much longer. That is the one lesson none of our politicians seem to have learned. I guess they still think the political see-saw of the last few years is just an abberation. But it’s not. Parliament is full of Independents because we, the people, no longer trust the two major parties.

Malcolm Turnbull, our PM, has said he will make marriage equality a reality by Christmas. I hope that reality does not include the right for others to discriminate against gay couples, because reneging on the clear wishes of we, the people, will sound the death knell for his whole party.

cheers

Meeks

 


Self-Publishing with IngramSpark…or not

IngramSpark, probably the biggest print-on-demand publisher, has a facility right here in Melbourne [Australia].

“Yay! I can get copies of my books printed locally to save a huge amount on postage!”

That was me yesterday. Today I have steam coming out of my ears because the only way I can use IngramSpark is as a Sole Trader – and that involves getting an ABN. Apparently, IngramSpark does not deal with lowly self-publishers who can’t pretend to be a business.

For those not familiar with the term, ABN stands for Australian Business Number. I used to have one, about 15 years ago when I ran a micro business teaching computer skills one-on-one. In fact, apparently I still have one lurking somewhere, inactive and unusable, but still in the ‘system’. Somewhere.

I could hunt down my old ABN, but I don’t even know where to start and, bureaucracy being what it is, the process could take hours or days out of my life. That’s a lot of effort to go to just for the privilege of printing a few copies of my book here in Australia, especially when the only benefit to me is a saving on postage [Ingram’s printing costs are a lot higher than CreateSpace but postage from the US is the real killer].

Oh, and did I mention that you have to pay IngramSpark $53 AUD for the privilege of using their distribution services, even if you don’t actually intend to use them to distribute your books? Yup, that’s part of the setup process.

So if you’re an Aussie self-publisher, my advice is to give IngramSpark a miss. Unless you already have an active ABN…

-sound of teeth grinding-

Does anyone out there know of a reasonable PoD company here in Melbourne? Maybe a home-grown one that doesn’t charge the earth?

Meeks


10 things that marriage equality won’t do

A co-worker brought in a pamphlet yesterday. The heading read ‘3 ways gay marriage will change the classroom’. And I quote

More radical gay & lesbian sex ‘education’ programs in schools‘ like Safe Schools which ‘..already teach kids about various forms of sexual activity and encourages sexual experimentation from an early age‘.

Kids will be taught their gender is fluid‘…’something they choose, not something they are born with‘.

Loss of parents’ rights‘. ‘In other countries where gay marriage has been legalised, parents have found themselves in court after trying to pull their kids out of radical gay sex education classes‘.

We were all gobsmacked at the ignorance and blatant disregard for the truth. So here are some things that won’t happen when marriage equality is finally made law:

1.  Heterosexual kids will not suddenly become gay. Homosexuality is not a choice.

2.  Heterosexual kids will not suddenly become lesbian. Homosexuality is not a choice.

3.  Heterosexual kids will not suddenly become trans. Being transgender is not a choice.

4.  Kids in general will not be any more or less interested in sex than they are now. But kids who are taught that being gay, lesbian or trans is not ‘bad’ may become a little more tolerant. They may stop hounding kids who look or act ‘different’. And gay, lesbian or trans kids who struggle to make sense of their feelings and their place in the world may stop harming themselves and taking their own lives.

5.  Parents will not lose any of the ‘rights’ they have now. They will still be free to place their children in public or private schools according to their beliefs. They will also continue to have the right to homeschool their children.

6.  Religious institutions that allowed systemic child abuse to continue for decades will continue to marry or not marry people based on church dogma.

7.  Adults who disliked gay, lesbian or trans people before marriage equality can continue to dislike them afterwards. Marriage equality is powerless to stop prejudice and bigotry.

8.  Marriage equality will not harm any straight people.

9.  Marriage equality will not take anything away from straight people.

10.  Marriage equality is not the start of a slippery slope that will ruin Australia.

These are the countries that have already legalised marriage equality:

This list includes deeply religious countries like Spain, Portugal and Ireland. The sky didn’t fall in and nothing terrible happened.

Nothing terrible will happen here either. Life will continue the way it always has, but there may come a time when kids who are different can stand tall and live happy, productive lives instead of being bullied to death like Kenneth James Weishuhn. Rest in peace.

Vote Yes

Meeks


Dear Mr Turnbull – India is leaving us behind

Originally posted on Climate Denial Crock of the Week: India charging ahead on renewables. Vying with China for global leadership in the growth industry of the new century. Meanwhile, Washington looks longingly to the 19th century. Watch for new video on this topic coming very soon. Meanwhile, Denmark has decided to offload oil interests, and…

via As US Dithers, World Charges Ahead to Renewables — Die Erste Eslarner Zeitung – Aus und über Eslarn, sowie die bayerisch-tschechische Region!

India is surging ahead with renewables because the India government recognizes that renewables will be cheaper in the long run than fossil fuels. China is doing the same, and both countries are positioned to become the power houses of industry in the coming decades.

But where does that leave Australia? Fumbling in the dark, that’s where. We could have become world leaders in solar technology, but the lack of political vision and will sent our innovative companies offshore, and now we import the technology from…China.

All that potential, wasted, because our politicians are ‘scared’ of upsetting the apple cart. So instead of leading, we follow, and in the process, we get left further and further behind.

Ten years ago, the Australia people voted with their wallets when they installed record numbers of rooftop solar panels. But instead of rewarding us, successive governments have tried to slow or stop small scale solar altogether.

And then there’s Adani…taxpayer dollars to fund the hope of short term gain. Pathetic.

Meeks


%d bloggers like this: