OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Amazon is not the only game in town when it comes to ebook publishing.
Yes, they may be the dominant partner in the US and the UK, but in global markets, ebook retailer Kobo is doing some brilliant things. In today's interview, we get into what Kobo can offer you as an author.
In the intro, I talk about my trip to Hungary where I did some shooting and also some research on an ARKANE novella for next year. I've also been doing NaNoWriMo and working on a new crime series, as well as doing a lot of speaking and also launching a new online course – so it's been a busy month!I reflect on the fact I have created one novel and 5 multimedia products this year – in 2013, I will be focusing much more on the fiction side!
Mark Lefebvre is Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations at Kobo.com, as well as being an author and editor.
- Mark started writing when he was 13 and still writes horror/ twilight zone fiction under the name Mark Leslie. He moved into bookselling as he's passionate about books and publishing. He is traditionally published but also self-publishes his short story collections.
What is Kobo and how does it fit into the publishing ecosystem?
- Kobo is an ebook seller, original spun off Canada's largest print retailer, so it has a large use base in Canada. Three years ago the focus was short reads. Read freely is the philosophy. There's a free app for all platforms and no DRM (digital rights management which locks down ebooks to a retailer). It uses ePub standard so you can read the books on any device that allows ePub.
- Kobo was bought by Japanese based company Rakuten in early 2012 which gives Kobo an opportunity to expand even more globally. Kobo partners with retailers locally – WHSmith (a high street store), Chapters Indigo in Canada, Borders in the US and now the independent bookstores with the American Publishing Association. We talk about the global reach and ‘kobo speed' as Kobo is available in over 200 countries. On the wall at Kobo, “if it seems like things are in control, you aren't going fast enough” (Mario Andretti)
- Everyone does want to make sure there's more than one game in town. One overwhelmingly powerful company dominating the market is a bad idea. No one company should have that kind of power. There's got to be a choice as a reader and an author.
For self-publishers – Kobo Writing Life
- Kobo Writing Life is now available for self-publishers. The best thing for me personally is getting paid in my own currency, GBP, electronically to my bank account. Whereas my Amazon USD income still comes by monthly checks which sometimes get lost.
- The books that sell the best on Kobo are fiction – romance/erotica, thrillers, mysteries, sci-fi. But there's also been an upsurge in short reads – or long-form articles e.g. a long journalism piece.
- You used to have to go through Smashwords as an author to get to Kobo so it was an indirect process of publishing, but now it is direct so you can make price changes quickly with no significant wait, as per the Amazon KDP platform.
- Selling more books on Kobo. Firstly, make sure there's a link from your website. Many authors just list Amazon. Kobo wants to be a business partner with you as a publisher, a business-person. The Kobo dashboard contains information on where you sell in each market including a map of the world. Kobo is constantly working on their own search algorithm and refining it, as well as merchandising opportunities and lists. Ongoing, Kobo will be adding more possibilities to authors – they are constantly developing so watch this space!
- Ebooks are exciting, but print on demand technologies continue to advance. The Espresso Book Machine is a large printer attached to a binder that prints a book in the time it takes to make an espresso. They do have self-publishing options now – very cool! It's the meeting point between print and digital, and they are partnering with companies like Xerox, LightningSource, Google and ABA in order to expand.
You can find Mark at MarkLeslie.ca
You can publish direct to Kobo at KoboWritingLife
If you have suggestions for Kobo, you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org