Posts Tagged Kobo
Many of you are familiar with my e-book Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. Now there is a sister publication: Kobo Writing Life Publishing for Absolute Beginners. Both books are structured in a similar way, taking the novice e-publisher from the definition of an e-book and deciding what to write to uploading a manuscript to either Amazon or Kobo and using the marketing tools provided by these respective platforms.
The idea for the Kobo Writing Life book was born after a consultation with Tara Cremin, a Kobo Author Experience Manager, about making the most of the Kobo platform.
Kobo is based in Canada and has a large audience share there and in Australia. The company’s market share is also growing very fast in the Netherlands and Kobo’s partnerships with bookshops around the world, including Bookworld in New Zealand and FNAC in France and Portugal, are a factor in its increasing popularity. Importantly for self-published authors, in 2019 one in four of the titles sold by Kobo in Canada was by an independent author published through Kobo Writing Life. This love of new independent voices is a growing trend across Kobo’s major markets. More than 30 per cent of the titles sold in Australia are from independent self-published authors, 27 per cent in the United States, and 20 per cent in the United Kingdom. These statistics are a compelling reason for making your book available on the Kobo platform. Another good reason is that Kobo Writing Life is one of the easiest and friendliest e-publishing platforms to deal with. Kobo has a personal touch with authors that Amazon often lacks. If you have any questions, Kobo Writing Life is very approachable which means that some writers choose to cut their e-publishing teeth with Kobo instead of publishing on Amazon first.
Amongst other things Kobo Writing Life Publishing for Absolute Beginners explains how Kobo can make your e-book available for purchase by public libraries via Overdrive and how to get access to promotions run by Kobo where your book may be mixed in with titles on sale from major publishers. In common with the original KDP book, it also covers more general e-publishing topics such as how to obtain a book cover and writing a series of books. This is in order to fully inform the newbie e-publisher.
Kobo Writing Life Publishing for Absolute Beginners is available on Kindle and Kobo.
And I’m delighted to say that Kobo Writing Life Publishing for Absolute Beginners is currently featured on Kobo’s Best Books for Writers page.
In tandem with producing the Kobo e-book I have also revised Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners for 2020. The tweaks are mostly small, the only major change is the removal of VAT from e-books sold in the UK. This means that the 35% KDP royalty rate now applies to books priced from 77p to £1.76 and the 70% royalty rate is from £1.77 to £9.99.
The revised version of Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners is available now from Amazon.
In my previous blog post I talked about why indie authors should consider creating a box set of their works. In this post I’m going to look at the points to think about when obtaining a cover for a box set. My next post will look at creating the paperback using the new KDP paperback facility.
The EBook Box Set Cover
There are two types of box set cover – a 3D or a 2D design.
The 2D design is the same as a ‘normal’ flat, e-book cover. It might feature images of the original covers of the books within the set or a design indicating the overall concept or theme of the collection.
The 3D version shows the spines of all the books included in the set and emphasises the number of books and therefore the great value for money it offers.
However, the 3D image does not always reproduce well as a thumb nail image on e-book retailers’ websites. A recent Kobo promotion of box sets advised authors that books with a 2D cover would have a greater chance of inclusion within the promotion than those with a 3D cover.
In addition, 3D images do not convert easily to paperback covers. If there is to be a paperback version of the box set, stick with a 2D image.
There is a very good article on the Kobo Writing Life blog about box set cover design. Read it before ordering a cover.
I used cover designer, Debby Dale, on Fiverr for both the e-book and paperback covers of A Coffee Break Story Collection. I sent her the covers from the original three books and specifically asked they be used for a 2D design that could also be used on a paperback cover. She also supplied two 3D images (with and without reflection) in case I wanted to use them for publicity. All three covers are shown below so that you can see the difference and also how the design might impact the thumbnail image.
Last month total sales of the psychological thriller, Bedsit Three, passed the 1,000 mark.
At this point it’s worth reflecting on the breakdown of sales across retailers. It’s not what I was expecting 18 months ago when the novel was first published.
I expected Kindle to generate the largest number of sales because it is still, by far, the largest ebook sales platform. However, Bedsit Three was shortlisted for a competition organised by Kobo and Silverwood Books. On the back of this, I contacted Kobo and was able to get the book included in some promotions, which obviously paid off.
The lesson going forward? Don’t get obsessed by the benefits of KDP Select (which requires authors to keep their books exclusive to Amazon). Dip your toe in the water and try other ebook retailers as well.
Self-publishers who have opted out of Amazon’s KDP Select are free to distribute their e-books via other platforms, as well as Amazon.
Individuals can also purchase e-books directly from Smashwords, from where they can choose to receive the e-book in a variety of formats, for example .mobi for Kindle and epub for Kobo, Nook and tablets.
In order to encourage these individual purchases, Smashwords lets authors create money-off coupons to distribute directly to selected readers (such as book reviewers, competition winners etc.) or more generally via social media. The author selects the discount percentage (up to 100%, thus making the book free), the expiry date and the number of redemptions (for example only the first 100 customers using the coupon will get the discount). Smashwords then generates a discount code for the author to distribute as he chooses.
I’ve been playing around with the Smashwords Coupon Manager and have created a 50% off coupon code VZ95D for Bedsit Three. It’s valid until 31/10/2016 or for the first 50 people – whichever comes soonest.
So, if you’re fed up of Amazon’s supremacy, try buying your Kindle e-book from Smashwords and save some money too!
I’ve been busy with a whiteboard and pretty coloured Post-It Notes trying to plan my second novel. There’s no ‘right’ way of writing a novel but, in my opinion, it helps to have some idea of where the story is heading. So I’ve taken novelist Bella Osborne‘s advice and tried working backwards from a pivotal moment in the plot. For example, if the pivotal moment is X stabbing Y to death in a fit of anger in a remote field, then scenes coming before that must show X procuring a knife, Y doing something to make X angry, X travelling to the remote field etc. etc.
My plan looks very nice and it’s got my brain into gear but I know I will inevitably veer ‘off-piste’ as I get deeper into the story. That probably won’t matter and will make the writing process more exciting (the book is meant to be grip-lit!). And if I get totally lost then I’ll come back to my plan.
I intend to write the first draft as quickly as possible, NaNoWriMo style. But I can’t wait until November so throughout April I will be doing my own private NaNoWriMo. I want to write as quickly as possible to keep my brain focused and the story continuously moving forward in my head. The resulting manuscript will be for my eyes only and will require a lot of additional work. But I find it less frightening to edit and play around with words I’ve already written, until they’re at a publishable standard, than try to write to that standard in the initial draft.
And I will be repeating the mantra of writing tutor Alison May, “It’s OK to hate your first draft. It’s OK to hate your first draft.”
Finally I leave you with news that Bedsit Three (another grip-lit novel) has been accepted for inclusion into Kobo‘s ‘Deals Page Spotlight – Thrillers’ promotion for the first two weeks in April. Hurray! And, of course, Bedsit Three is also available on Kindle and in paperback.
A bit of blowing my own trumpet today – I have been shortlisted in the SilverWood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Writing Competition!
There are eight of us on the shortlist and there will now be a nail-biting time until the end of April when the winner is announced.
First prize is an ebook publishing package provided by SilverWood Books, with an additional print edition sponsored by Berforts Information Press. The publishing package will include a full copy-edit, proofreading, ebook and paperback cover design, formatting and conversion to epub, with a corresponding print edition. Plus, very importantly, publicity.
The shortlisting was done on the basis of a synopsis of the novel plus the first 5,000 words. I’ve now submitted the completed manuscript for final judging. I know there’s ‘many a slip twixt cup and lip’ so the chances of me actually winning are tiny but I’m going to enjoy just a little bit of the limelight while I can! And it’s good to know that the first 5,000 words of my novel aren’t absolute twaddle whatever the outcome of the competition.
This collection is my Kindle ‘best seller’ and hasn’t been enrolled in KDP Select for a long time meaning I’m free to publish it elsewhere.
So, how did I find the Kobo publishing process?
The hardest part was creating a Kobo login ID to allow me to start the process.
If the email address entered into Kobo is registered to a Facebook account then Kobo requires you to login with your Facebook credentials. I didn’t want to do this and went round in circles until I discovered that the only way to keep my Kobo and Facebook accounts separate was to login to Kobo initially with my Facebook account and then, within the Kobo ‘My Account’ page, un-link Facebook from my Kobo account.
Complicated or what?!
Kobo accepts manuscripts in a variety of formats, including Microsoft Word .doc and .docx, and then converts them to .epub. Initially I uploaded my manuscript as .docx but when I checked the finished product using the Kobo previewer (which isn’t as good as the Kindle one) the line spacing seemed very wide.
So, I downloaded the free conversion software Calibre and converted my .docx file to e.pub. Then I uploaded the .epub file to Kobo and the result looked much better.
This all sounds very complicated and technical – but it’s not! There is a guide available on the Kobo website full of tips about how to format your Word document to ensure the best results. I used the same manuscript that I’d formatted for Kindle according to the instructions in Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide and, once I’d discovered Calibre, had no further problems.
Having said that, if anyone downloads the Kobo version and finds the formatting isn’t up to scratch – please let me know!
Next, I have to work out how everything works on the Kobo site …
Last week I went to an E-Publishing seminar with the lovely ladies (and one gentleman) from the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. It was run by one of our members who has been successfully publishing her erotica in e-book form for the last 12 months (unfortunately we didn’t have time in the seminar for her promised session on erotica – so that treat is still to come!).
I came away with my head buzzing with jargon such as .mobi, .epub, Smashwords, US Tax Identification Numbers and lots more. I was tempted to throw up my hands and pay a professional to format, design a cover and distribute the modest project that I have in mind. But I’ve decided to have a go myself for three reasons –
- I doubt that I’ll earn enough from the book to recoup the costs of a professional
- E-publishing is definitely the future and therefore as a writer I ought to get to grips with it
- I’m a computer programmer by day, so if other people can master e-publishing – why can’t I?
So the other day I started. The first thing I did was download the Smashwords Style Guide to my Kindle. This is the e-publishing ‘bible’ and, as well as giving lots of background information, it describes how to format a Word document so that it is acceptable to Smashwords. This is supposed to mean that the format will be acceptable for Amazon Kindle too.
Although Amazon still has the largest share of the e-book market, it’s important to make your work available on Smashwords as well. Smashwords sell e-books directly to the public and they also distribute to many of the other e-book retailers such as Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Apple.
I found the Smashwords Style Guide very useful. It shows how to get first line paragraph indentation correct (get rid of those naughty tabs and spaces if you’ve used them), how to ensure that the whole document is the same style and how to do a linked table of contents . One thing slowed me down – the Guide gives instructions for different Word editions up to 2007 but doesn’t mention 2010, which I am using, so sometimes I had to play around for a bit until I found what I was looking for.
Now I have my document formatted (I think – I won’t know it’s right until I try to upload it), so it’s time to do the cover. I’m feeling nervous about this. The Guide recommends hiring a professional cover designer (and will even send you a list of low-cost cover designers) because first impressions of a book are important. But our wonderful seminar leader does it herself and gave us lots of tips.
So that’s my next step …
By the way, if anyone’s got any e-publishing tips, I’d be most grateful!
Following on from my last post – my Kobo e-reader prize has arrived and has turned out to be more of an android tablet rather than a simple e-reader. It is the Vox model and has lots more functionality than I expected, so what choice did I have but to keep both it and the Kindle?
I find the Kindle easier on the eye for sustained periods of reading and it has a longer battery life. But the Kobo will drag me into the world of tablets and Apps – something I’ve had no experience of until now.
The first App I downloaded was A Quick Read (as mentioned in this month’s Writers’ News), which is a collection of short stories for reading on the move. Have a look at the website for how to submit your own stories for inclusion.
I’ve rooted out some prize draws if you’d like to win your own e-reader or some good old-fashioned book tokens:
- For the chance to win a Kindle Fire, click here
- For the chance to win WH Smith vouchers that can be used to buy a Kobo, click here
- For the chance to win some Book Tokens, click here.
I already have a basic Kindle (without the keyboard or any of the fancy stuff) and I’ve just won a Kobo e-reader in the monthly flash fiction competition in Prima magazine (my story is in the December issue). The Kobo hasn’t arrived yet so I don’t know which model it will be but it’s supposed to be worth £149.
I’m trying to decide whether to tear open the packaging of the Kobo when it arrives and have a play with it, or whether to keep it all brand-spanking new and advertise it on eBay.
Because of its price, I’m assuming the Kobo will have a much wider functionality but what about the selection of books available? Does it have as many titles as the Kindle? I know that many authors who self-publish, only do so on the Kindle but the file format used by the Kobo is supposed to be more ‘open’.
Which screen is easier on the eye and is the page turning functionality as good on the Kobo as it is on the Kindle?
There’s an interesting article here from the MoneySavingExpert team. It recommends Kobo if buying for oneself but Kindle if buying as a present – but only so that you don’t appear a cheap skate by giving a less expensive Kindle substitute.
So what do you think? Is one better than the other – or should I keep both (I’m thinking that if I ever get round to self-publishing an e-book it might be useful to see what it looks like on the two devices).