Wed, 9 August 2017
Episode 88 of the Kobo Writing Life Podcast isn't the more typical interview, but rather, KWL's Director, Mark Lefebvre, outlining five strategies that successful authors use to build their sales, raise their author profile and get readers to sign up their author mailing lists with Free eBooks.
First, Mark talks about the updates to FREE tracking.
If you've been paying attention to the updates in the Notification header of the Kobo Writing Life dashboard (which link to this VERY HANDY - hint, hint, nudge, nudge - part of the KWL Community) throughout July, you may have noticed that the Web team and the KWL Team have been working at revisions to the broken free tracking that we've been dealing with for quite a while.
And whenever a customer clicks on the "Save Preview" button on a book's item page, it adds that preview ePub file to that customer's library. Since there isn't currently any filtering that distinguishes the preview ePub file from the full ePub file, it appears as if that eBook was given to a customer, and is tracked as a "free download" in the dashboard.
(The KWL, Web and UX Teams will be adjusting and fixing this, but having that information can be extremely valuable, because it allows you to see how many customers have PREVIEWED your book. IE, if you have a huge number of PREVIEWS but not a huge number of sales, that could tell you something important about the conversion from free preview to sales)
1) First Free eBook in Series (Perma-Free)
Although this isn't a new practice, it continues to be something that works quite nicely for authors looking to increase their sales and author profile at Kobo.
Authors can set any book on Kobo to free at any time for as long as they want with no restrictions and no requests for exclusivity.
The concept is creating a funnel to get a lot of people to grab the first book for free and hopefully converting them into buyers because the worlds, characters, settings and situations they are reading about in your series are so compelling that they HAVE to keep on reading.
Below are some stats that are typical of the conversion rate from FREE to SALES via studies done on multiple different first book in series promos.
2) Free Book/Novella/Novelette Kept Perma-Free that ISN'T the first in the Series
The same technique used above can be used for other books in the series (rather than the first book), or perhaps for interstitial stories in the series universe.
Remember that, with Kobo Writing Life, you can enter Series metadata using decimals. IE, imagine you have a novella that takes place between Books 1 and 2 in your series. Entering 1.5 into the Volume Number value in your Series metadata connects those book. (See this post on how that works at KWL)
3) Free related/connected Short Story hook into a novel or series
Mark shares a personal anecdote about using a short story to entice readers to want to learn more or explore more about characters that appear in a full novel.
His example is how the FREE short story, This Time Around, a 10,000 word short story, has been successful at helping new readers discover his main character Michael Andrews, who is a werewolf attempting to live a normal life in the midst of one of the world's largest metropolitan centers in the novel A Canadian Werewolf in New York.
4) A Free eBook that is a stand alone novel / NOT part of a series
For those of you who do NOT have series books, don't despair. There is still a correlation between the "funnel" of free eBooks and readers going on to buy more books by the same author (rather than books in the same series)
Mark shares how his friend Sean Costello, a thriller/horror writer he works closely with, uses free to build a readership, not based on the book being part of a series, but based on readers discovering the voice of a brilliant author who they feel compelled to read more books from.
Costello's SQUALL has garnered almost 3300 reviews on Kindle and more than 800 reviews on Kobo with a 4 star average.
Again, good news for authors who don't write series books. Free works for gaining new readers and selling more eBooks for you too. :)
5) Using FREE eBooks for Newsletter sign-ups
While it's great that retails can help authors sell more using algorithms and targeted emails to their customers making recommendations, it is important for authors to get readers to sign up to their author newsletter.
Folks like Nick Stephenson (Your first 10,000 Readers) and Mark Dawson (Self Publishing Formula) have been helping authors use techniques to help get readers signed up for their newsletter mailing lists which allow authors to better control their own success. (Being able to let your best fans know when you have a new release or have a promotional price available has a direct correlation with sales success)
The way this works (and you can get FAR BETTER details by clicking the links above), authors set up a newsletter sign up at the end of their eBooks or via targeted social media ads (Facebook, etc) and when a customer signs up, they can get a free eBook sent to them from the author. These are typically eBooks that are NOT free on the various retail websites. So these readers who become newsletter subscribers get something of value directly from the author which helps built brand trust and loyalty.
Other authors, such as M.L. Buchman don't ever make their eBooks free nor do they give free eBooks away. But, instead, they create unique, fresh and interesting new stories and content specifically FOR their best fans, via either an author newsletter or directly on their own websites. (They will sometimes release this material via regular retail channels at a later date) This ensures that their best fans get access to reading fresh and exiting new material before anybody else can read it.
That, in a nutshell, are just five different ways that authors are using FREE to help build their sales and their author brands.
We would love to share more strategies that work well, so if you have a strategy that works for you, please free free to share that in comments on this podcast's show notes on the KWL Podcast web page under Episode 88.
Free eBooks on Kobo - curated from KWL titles and updated weekly. You can apply to be featured via the PROMOTIONS tab, which is currently in beta release. If you don't have it, simply request it by emailing email@example.com
Tue, 11 July 2017
KWL Podcast Episode 87 – Perils, Pitfalls & Perseverance with Eve Silver
Episode 87 of the Kobo Writing Life podcast features a keynote address from When Words Collide’s 2016 Guest of Honour, Eve Silver. She is a national bestselling author of books for adults and teens, has won the Ontario Library Association’s “Forest of Reading White Pine Award” and has been praised for her “edgy, steamy, action-packed” books, darkly sexy heroes and take-charge heroines.
Eve is introduced by Randy McCharles, When Words Collide chair, and who happens to also be a successful author.
In her keynote talk from When Words Collide, Eve talks about:
Mark then shares a few thoughts on the concept of what can happen to the “little writer heart” with all the types of rejection (either from publishers or from lack of sales), as well as a reminder about the important theme in Eve’s message, that writers write, no matter what.
Links of Interest:
Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_087_PerilsPitfallsandPerseverance_with_EveSilver.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:33pm PDT
Wed, 28 June 2017
Episode 86 features an interview with international bestselling author Catherine Coulter, about one of her most recent titles, Insidious.
In the interview, Mark and Catherine talk about:
After the interview, Mark gives a bit of an update on Kobo Plus
Links of interest
Wed, 14 June 2017
Episode 85 of the KWL Podcast contains an interview with Scacchi Koul conducted by Johanna Schneller about Scacchi’s new book One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter.
Please note that this interview contains adult language which might not be appropriate for all listening audiences.
In the interview, Johanna and Scaachi talk about:
Scaachi Koul's Website: scaachi.com/odwabdanotwm
Scaachi Koul on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Scaachi
Scaachi Koul at BuzzFeed - firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Links of Interest: The Appropriation Prize Controversy
Mon, 29 May 2017
Episode 84 contains the third and final installment of interviews that took place at RT (Romantic Times) Booklovers Convention in Atlanta this year. This time the interviews are from Sinead McElhinney, PR Coodinator for Kobo, who was interacting with dozens of authors and romance readers at the conference.
Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, the dynamic duo co-authors who make up the NYT and USA Today bestselling author Christina Lauren. In their chat, they discuss the process of co-authoring and how it has evolved in the past 8 years as well as the personal closeness/friendship that is the foundation for their authoring partnership.
Ella Quinn is a USA Today Bestselling author of smart and spicy regency romances. In her chat with Sinead, she shares a bit about the incredible amount of research on the customs, the manners and the buildings for the worlds she writes about in her historical novels. She explains how, while those elements are important in the realism, that the love story and the characters are what should be front and center in the reader’s mind.
Mark then talks with Sinead about what she does at Kobo (a bit of a behind the scenes look), and how her role in PR is related to engaging in social media and in person interactions with publishers, with authors and with readers.
Tue, 16 May 2017
This episode continues from where episode 82 left off with KWL’s recent live interviews with attendees from RT Booklovers Convention in Atlanta, Georgia in early May 2017. RT (Romantic Times) Booklovers brings more than 3,500 fans and between 600 to 800 authors together for a celebration of romance novels.
Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo Writing Life, interviewed authors and industry folks about various topics. In Part 2, we share Mark’s chats with:
Stephanie Phillips from SBR Media Literary Agency
Mark Coker from Smashwords
Diane and Dante from ListenUp Audiobooks
Mon, 8 May 2017
KWL was recently in Atlanta, Georgia attending RT Booklovers Convention. Considered the Book Lover Event of the year, RT (Romantic Times) Booklovers brings more than 3,500 fans and between 600 to 800 authors together for a celebration of romance novels.
Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo Writing Life, was on site interviewing authors and industry folks about various topics on writing, reading and promotions. The RT Booklovers interviews have been broken into more than one episode. In Part 1, we share Mark's chats with:
Jeff Adams & Will Knauss
Chloe from Written Word Media
Dan from Draft2Digital
Wed, 26 April 2017
KWL Director Mark Lefebvre speaks with former college professor Gilian Baker about her new novel Blogging is Murder. In the discussion, the two explore:
After the interview, Mark discusses the age-old advice of “Write What You Know” that is not only often shared with writers, but also debated among writing circles. He points out a few examples of authors who have drawn from their personal experience and passions, including a few of his own personal examples, including using “things he knew” in both novels as well as non-fiction titles.
Mark then asks the listeners on their own thoughts on the “write what you know debate” that people can answer either in the comments below or on the Kobo Writing Life Community Forum
Gilian Baker is a former writing and literature professor who finally threw in the towel and decided to just show ‘em how it’s done. She has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger & ghostwriter to her CV. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain cozy mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggled up with her husband watching British mysteries or discussing literary theory with her daughter.
In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines.
Links of Interest
Gillian Baker’s Website: www.gilianbaker.com
Gillian Baker on Twitter: @gillianbaker
Gillian Baker on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/GilianBakerAuthor/
Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_081_BloggingIsMurder_with_GilianBaker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:02pm PDT
Tue, 11 April 2017
Kobo was delighted to recently host Emily Schultz in a “Kobo in Conversation” chat in the Kobo Café a few weeks ago while she was coming through Toronto on a book tour. Kobo Merchandiser Nora Parker interviewed Emily. In the interview, Emily and Nora talk about:
Mark then highlights a few things from the interview with Emily that he wanted to call attention to. In particular, the research that she conducted for the Prohibition era time period the novel was set in as well as the manner by which she collaborated with local writers when traveling on a book tour.
There is a reminder of the Kobo Plus Subscription service available through Kobo in the Netherlands and Belgium with Kobo’s retail partner, BOL which is open to Kobo Writing Life authors via the “Rights and Distribution” tab.
Emily’s Website - http://www.emilyschultz.com/
Emily on Twitter: https://twitter.com/manualofstyle?lang=en
Joyland Magazine - www.joylandmagazine.com/
Tue, 28 March 2017
Julie Czerneda, an international bestselling science fiction and fantasy author from Canada, was one of the Author Guests of Honour at the 2016 When Words Collide conference which takes place in Calgary each year in late summer.
When Words Collide is an annual non-profit festival designed to bring readers and writers together in a celebration of the written word. Up to 10 tracks of programming, beginning at 1 PM on Friday and running through 5 PM Sunday, offer informational, educational, and social activities covering a wide spectrum of literature including Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Historical, Literary, Script-writing, Poetry, Comics, and Non-fiction. Roughly 650 readers, writers, editors, publishers, agents, and artists attend with over 200 presenters.
Kobo Writing Life has been a proud sponsor of When Words Collide for the past several years and are delighted to present one of the inspiring keynote talks from 2016 by Julie Czerneda addressing the “Dreamers” who were there attending the conference.
Julie’s keynote talk at When Words Collide addresses the world of dreamers and dream-weavers who are completely at home when at a book-related conference and how putting readers and writers together matters. That the things they revel in matters.
Julie Czerneda has written more than 20 books in multiple series, including The Trade Pact Universe, The Clan Chronicles, The Web Shifters Series, Night’s Edge, Stratification and The Reunification Series, with THE GATE TO FUTURE’S PAST (Book 2 in the series) being her most recent novel. (Look for Book 3, TO GUARD AGAINST THE DARK in the fall of 2017)
After the keynote talk by Julie, Mark talks to Julia Nethersole who oversees the Author Support Community at Kobo about some of the most common questions that authors write in to email@example.com as well as some insights about better self-service tools and an author community forum that has recently been created to help authors help themselves as well as another way to connect with others from the community.