Tag Archives: Kobo

How to Get Noticed on Kobo

A guest post by Mark Leslie Lefebvre.

kobo_logoYou’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it again. Maybe this time you’ll remove yourself from the attachment you have with your beautifully bouncing “baby” of a book and listen.

Getting noticed starts with a good cover. And not just a good cover, but an excellent cover. And not just an excellent cover, but an excellent professional cover. And not just an excellent professional cover but one that appeals to your target audience – respectful of the genre you’re targeting.

Let me be brutally honest here – and it’s not easy to say, but it’s something I’ve seen time and again. I have authors who, on Kindle, are selling reasonably well, some of them selling exceptionally well, who approach me and ask why they’re not selling much or at all on Kobo. Then I look at their books and the first thing I see is a cover that makes me cringe and start trying to come up with ways to avoid telling them I think the cover is horrible.

It’s difficult to tell someone their baby is ugly – but it’s even more difficult to present a less than professional looking book on any of our featured spotlights or main pages.

Why am I harping on about something I’m sure you’ve read a thousand times? Because it’s true. Kobo’s website is far more merchandised than a site like Amazon – and as such, getting a human’s attention and holding it long enough to get them to read the synopsis and then check out the price all starts with a great cover.

And that’s one of the main ways that titles get selected for various features on Kobo’s website.

The metadata that you enter is another way to stand out as professional. It can also help you with helping us convert readers of one book in your series to the rest of that series. Entering consistent series title data plus the volume number in that series can lead to this. There is a great article posted here that outlines some of the benefits. (Selling More of Your Series Books on Kobo)

Here’s an example of how a series title is displayed, helping customers see that this book is connected to others.

Fiction River

Kobo is using this data not just for enhancing the merchandising, but also sending reminder emails to customers who are currently reading or have recently completed reading a book that’s identified as part of a series.

Below is a sample email derived automatically from a reader’s catalog of titles.

Kobo_Next in series

There are plenty of other feature spots that we are highlighting indie author published titles within.

One of them is the permanent FREE EBOOKS landing page – conversion here works best with series books; offering the first one for free (which you can do through Kobo Writing Life for as long as you want) and enticing customers into the next books in that series.

Kobo_free ebooksKobo_sci-fi fantasy

Other merchandising spots are KOBO NEXT and KOBO NEXT GREAT DEALS (typically $4.99 and under)

Kobo also runs monthly discount “publisher sponsored” features in which authors allow us to discount their titles to customers using a coupon code. In them, the publisher then gets paid 70% off the discounted price. Here’s an example of one that ran in mid June 15, 2015.

Capture

But what I’m most excited to share is that we are building in the opportunity for authors to be considered for various promotions like these directly within Kobo Writing Life. An easy way to think about it perhaps is as a “BookBub Built Right into Kobo Writing Life” – meaning that when promotional opportunity comes available, if your book already has the right price point, is in the right category and available in the right territory, you’d see if it was eligible for a forthcoming promo and, within just a few clicks, submit the title for consideration. We’re pretty excited at how this will open up the ability for authors to be included in various promos that we continually run throughout the year.

To take full advantage of this promotion, you’ll need to be signed up for Kobo Writing Life – your directly published titles will be the ones eligible for the various promotions that we are already starting to schedule as much as 2 or more months in advance.

Some other things you can do to assist with getting noticed on Kobo include:

  • Attending events and networking and liaising with other authors and industry folks. Even if you aren’t at an event that a Kobo person is at, you might end up making a connection of a connection – it’s a small industry and authors are fantastic at helping one another. There are easily dozens of authors that have been introduced to me through authors I already know.
  • Publish directly to Kobo Writing Life rather than coming in through a data aggregator. We are constantly sifting through new titles entered into our database, always looking for that next “hidden gem” that we can spotlight for our customers.

Pricing. Where 99 cent novels seem to be the way to go on Kindle, Kobo doesn’t use books as a “loss leader” – eBooks are the ONLY thing we sell, and our prime real estate needs to be dedicated to books that we can actually earn money on. Imagine that we have the choice to feature one of two great fantasy novels. One is 99 cents and the other is 9.99. Remembering that Kobo keeps 30%, which one do you think is a more sustainable title for us to spend time featuring?

 

Mark Leslie Lefebvre Bio:Kobo_Mark Leslie Lefebvre Mark Leslie Lefebvre is the Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo. He was hired by Kobo in 2011 to make it easier for indie authors and small publishers to get their work published to Kobo’s global catalog (which is available in 190 countries). Mark and his team launched Kobo Writing Life in July of 2012 and it now represents between 10 and 18% of Kobo’s weekly unit sales, larger than any of the major publishers. Mark is also the author of speculative fiction and Twilight Zone styled horror under the name Mark Leslie. His latest books include Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries and I, Death.

SSWS Writing Scholarship: Should YOU Apply?

We’re taught in school to always ask the questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. Today, let’s start with why.

job_huntHave you ever wanted to have one-on-one conversations with experienced, best-selling authors and be able to ask them anything? Have you ever wanted to meet a New York editor, an acquiring editor for one of the most successful small presses in the nation, or find qualified indie editors? Have you ever felt like having a larger community of dedicated writers around you might help improve your writing skills and your writing career? Does the business side of writing–working with agents, contracts, hiring artists and editors, marketing, etc–seem a bit overwhelming at times? Could you use information from people who know what they’re doing to help in your writing career?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you NEED to apply to the Superstars Writing Seminar (SSWS) scholarship. Here’s the link: http://superstarswriting.com/scholarships/ Seriously, go look at it right now.

2010 SuperstarsOkay, as for the other questions. What is SSWS? The most amazing writing seminar you will ever attend. I’m not just saying that, and no, I’m not being paid to say that. I attended the first SSWS in 2010. If it was mediocre or repetitive, I’d have only gone once. I’ve been three times. I plan on attending again. It is worth every penny, but if you earn the scholarship, your tuition will be free. Here’s what it says on the website: “The only focus at Superstars is to teach you how to have a successful writing career by sharing how those at the top of the industry manage their careers.” Take a look at the past classes, and I can only tell you that each year somehow manages to get even better.

Superstars Presenters April 2010Who? Anyone who hasn’t attended SSWS in past years is eligible to apply for the scholarship. The instructors are Kevin J. Anderson, James A. Owen, Rebecca Moesta, David Farland, and Eric Flint. To list their credentials would take the rest of this post. Guests include Toni Weisskopf (Baen books), Christine Monroe (the US Manager for Self-Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo), Todd McCaffrey, and Jody Lynn Nye. Again, I can’t list all their credentials. It’s just too much. Nope, I’m not done throwing out names. Past and recurring attendees include our very own David Carrico (author of 1636: The Devil’s Opera) and Brad R. Torgersen (multiple award nominee and winner) This is what Brad had to say, “This is not a craft class nor is it a critique workshop. It’s a no-holds-barred crash-course in how to perform and conduct yourself as a professional fiction author.” There are more quotes where those came from and you can find them on youtube, too.

When? The scholarship application is due by November 22nd. That’s this Saturday! The seminar will happen in February. colorado springsThat’s the perfect time so you’re somewhat recovered from Christmas, have your tax refund on its way, and are in need of a short vacation. The exact date for 2015 is February 5-7th.

Where? Apply to the scholarship from the website, but give yourself time to write a short essay and get a couple of referrals. The people involved in making this opportunity take it seriously. They want to give it to you, but you have to show that you really want it and are willing to do the work. The seminar takes place in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s a great place to visit, and airfare is reasonable.

unikarkadan2How? For the full story on how this scholarship came to exist, I encourage you to read the introduction to One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology. It still gives me a warm feeling every time I scan over the story again. Once the idea took root to fund a scholarship so aspiring writers could attend SSWS, people pitched in. The cover artist, the publisher, the editor, and the famous and not-so-famous writers all volunteered time and work for the sake of helping other writers find their dream. And even though SSWS attendees were competing with one another for slots in the book, we cheered each other on, critiqued stories to help one another, and as often happens with this group, we did all we could to help our writing friends succeed. opportunity knocksThat is a rare camaraderie to have with a group this size, but it’s there and it’s precious.

In conclusion: If you’re serious about writing, take the time, do the work, and apply for this scholarship. Hurry! You’ve only got a few days to change the rest of your life. Opportunity is banging at the door.