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Cracking Kobo: Free Self-Publishing Event for Indie Authors

Mark Lefebvre of Kobo

Mark Lefebvre will answer your questions about Kobo in our upcoming online event, ‘Cracking Kobo'

Join us on Wednesday at 4pm EST (9pm GMT) for an online Alliance of Independent Authors event with Mark Lefebre, Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations at Kobo.

Mark will be talking about Kobo policies and possibilities for self-publishers, specifically how to use Kobo's self-publishing platform, Kobo Writing Life, to sell e-books in almost 200 countries.

Here's Mark's summary of what you can expect. “First I’ll introduce Kobo as a company, for self-publishers who might be unfamiliar with us. Then I’ll get right to Kobo Writing Life, starting with why we built this DIY portal for authors, particularly when there are quite wonderful aggregators who’ll do this for you for all vendors.

“Then I will do a step-by-step of the uploading process, highlighting what features authors should take advantage of — and where we have scheduled improvements, and updates already in the pipe.

“I'll also talk about the various things Kobo are doing via our blog, Twitter and Facebook to help promote authors, as well as the really cool contests we have held and will hold that help authors get access to cool services and prizes and opportunities. e.g our recent ‘win a cover design’ contest, our Book Doctors contest, and our newly announced Jeffrey Archer 100 Word Short Story challenge.

“Then I’ll mention a few opportunities to assist authors with finding pro services and marketing opportunities (not just for Kobo but for every platform, because the way Kobo is about “read freely” we’re about “write freely”).

Some other topics covered in the session:

  • overview of Kobo terms and conditions, ensuring writers recognize they are the publisher and own the rights
  • break-down of Kobo“royalties”
  • explanation of conversion process from word (doc and docx), open office and mobi into ePub
  • suggested ways authors might make the best of Kobo services.

If you want Orna to put a question to Mark on your behalf, please put it in a comment below.

There will also be a Q&A session at the end, with plenty of time to ask questions directly.

The event takes place on the Shindig platform, a video chat experience where everyone can interact with each other, as well as with the speakers. There is nothing to install, no account to create, or software to download and the platform works on every browser (though Google chrome is recommended). All you need is an email address to log in at the alloted time.

Go here to register. 




This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. I would appreciate a question regarding maximum upload size of ePub book submissions. It seems that the device improvements…ie: retina display on iPads, are forcing digital authors/ graphic artists toward higher resolution files, driving memory totals up…but, the Smashwords site, for example, still has a 5 MB maximum upload size.
    I have a graphically-intensive children’s book, The Illustrated Wynken, Blynken and Nod, available on the Apple iBookstore, but I cannot get it up onto other platforms due to upload restrictions regarding file size. Mark Coker has written me back and said a file size of 17 MB is not even under consideration. Is there any future with Kobo for fine art, children’s book authors such as myself? I see tremendous market potential with pre-school/ early childhood ebooks being used within ipad labs which are appearing in progressive, early-childhood, pre-reading instructional programs.
    Any insights would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you!
    Geoffrey Thornton

    1. Mr. Thornton,
      This is kind of off your topic, but I believe you could reduce the size of your book by reducing the relative size of your pictures. I assume they are in color, and if they are at maximum (16 million colors), then dropping them to a lower value (say 256) and having/using mainly primary colors, would considerably reduce the file size of the pictures and still keep the color. Or you could convert to black and white and remove color completely, which would reduce it even further. Also, if you are already using black and white to start with, converting to line art would also remove all the extra space from the pictures. Doing some or all of that, in turn, would drop your file size considerably, putting it well under the maximum file size requirements. I just had to put in my two cents when I saw your question. I hope it helps.

  2. Hi Orna!
    Could you ask about publicising books and whether Kobo has an internal cross-referencing facility? Amazon, of course, has the very useful ‘people who bought this bought that’ recommendations, which is a great way to introduce readers to books they might not have heard of. Does Kobo have anything similar?
    Also, I heard somewhere that you can port Goodreads reviews onto the Kobo page. Is that possible and if so, how does it work? It’s a bit tricky if you’re an author with no reviews on Kobo – but loads elsewhere!
    Thanks so much for hosting this. Great idea.

    1. Dear Roz,

      The answer is yes in terms of GoodReads Reviews. In fact, that is the only way to get reviews on Kobo. A reader can rank a book (give stars) but can’t actually review one on Kobo–you get sent to Goodreads to make the review. Make sure you are signed into Goodreads, and that you have your Kobo edition listed as one of your GoodReads books.

      Then this is what the Kobo Writing Life tells you to do:

      “All of the eBooks listed on Kobobooks.com can be linked to their Goodreads reviews. If your eBook is available on Goodreads, the Goodreads reviews will be made available on your Kobo eBook’s item page automatically as long as the same eISBN is used for both. If you do not have a Goodreads account, you can sign up here. Please ensure that the ISBN you enter for your Goodreads item page is the same ISBN used for your Kobo eBook.”

      Go try it. If it doesn’t work or isn’t clear how to do it from the statement above, then maybe Orna can ask Mark how an author can get them feedback that helps them improve their Guide, which I found very confusing in places.

      I fear what we are going to get from Mark is a “Yes we link to Goodreads Reviews” rather than yes, we know that the process isn’t clear, or yes we know there are some downsides (like the lower rankings a book often gets on Good Reads versus what a reader will put when they respond to a bookseller) or yes we know it is frustrating that an author can’t easily tell what rankings they are getting from Kobo customers because this is blended in with the ranking from GoodReads.

      I am sorry, I am complaining again. I had such high hopes for Kobo I am afraid I am responding to the failed expectations syndrome!

      Kobo does seem to be trying to develop a customer recommendation process. If you have a Kobo account as a reader, (I got one when I signed up for an ap), when you go the the home page http://www.kobobooks.com they list some “ebooks for you.” Then if you look at a book (try your own) they have a “You might like” list. But it wasn’t clear if these lists were based on my buying patterns, or the buying patterns of people who bought my book. But again I think that a question that gets at the fact that they need to do a better job of explaining to indie authors what they are doing to help sell books (in general, and for indies is in order.)

      Again, sorry for long comment.

      Mary Louisa

  3. Dear Orna,

    If it doesn’t come up, could you ask about their strategy regarding Free books. One of the best elements of Kobo Writing life seemed to be that you could do unlimited free days and didn’t have to go exclusive, but right now this doesn’t seem to be working very well, if my experience of putting up a free short story is any indication.

    First of all they didn’t give me any record of free downloads so I have no idea if people were finding the story as a free story. I also couldn’t tell if the number of free downloads had any impact on the books ranking, when it was free, and after it went off free. This lack of information meant that I had no way to judge whether making the story free worked, except that there was no carry over (no one bought my paid books while the story was free, and the sales of the story didn’t go up after it went off free. And this is counter to what happened on Amazon when I used the same strategy.

    Second, and probably related to the ineffectiveness of my free experience, there seems to be 3 different ways that a book shows up free, which seems to weaken the effect of free as a promotional tool as well.

    The most effective list seems to be that they have a “latest free” list of less than 200 books–so I wondered how do they determined what books get on this list and how long they stay.

    Then they have lists by genre that seem to be mostly public domain books (about 20 on mystery genre) so this is really a useless list-but is prominently displayed and I imagine discourages a lot of browsers.

    Then they suggest that the full list of over a million free books can be searched by key word. But this search is practically meaningless. If you put in the search” historical mysteries” you get 86,000 books (the genre on B/N and Amazon has 2000-3000 books) and when you limit free books you get 2000, most of them not historical mysteries. Again, this would greatly discourage a reader looking for for free historical mysteries.

    So, as a result, I would imagine that only the first list of “latest” free would be one that a reader would find useful if they were looking for free books in general–but they wouldn’t have any indication which if any of these free books were mysteries, much less historical mysteries, without reading through all their product descriptions. Again, this would discourage people from looking for free books. And then this gets back to the question of how a book gets on that list, and how long it stays.

    If you are using free as a promotional tool, and this “latest free” list is really the only one that people are using to find free books, then the author needs to be assured the book gets on the list, how long it will stay, so that they can promote it accordingly, and then take the book off of free to hope that higher rankings (if that happens) help sell the book.

    In short-how do they envision an author using free to promote their books (apart from the hope that people who get one book free will buy others by the same author), and do they have any record of what percentage of books that are free have higher sales of other books or of that book afterwards.

    I know this is long, but this is the most frustrating part of Kobo Life for me-the promise that they gave authors that unlike Amazon you could use free as a promotional tool, without exclusivity, but then the tools they gave us for free seem almost useless at this point. I have written them about this, and they said they were working on it, but that was over 6 months ago and I have seen no changes.

    Mary Lou

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