Kobo Writing Life Podcast

Episode 90 of the Kobo Writing Life Podcast features an interview with Dennis Weichman, (AKA, Mr. W.), a retired math teacher who has brought his passion for teaching and tutoring into the digital realm with YouTube channel and study guides published to Kobo.

Mr W. is interviewed by KWL Director Mark Lefebvre. In the interview, they discuss:

  • How, after he retired in 1998, Dennis began tutoring students in math and he recognized something that was lacking for many of the people he was working with were enough examples.
  • His compilation of those examples into a print workbook that was made available via a local school uniform company’s retail store
  • The request from students for him to compile more math books for even more grades
  • The various high school math subjects covered and how they are all based on the Ontario curriculum
  • How he created math tutorial videos and the YouTube channel with more than 50 videos and 100,000 views from 150 different countries
  • Advice for those who are either frightened of or are not comfortable with math
  • Relating math to things that people understand or are interested in/passionate about
  • The “hand-written” appearance of the math examples and how that personalizes the content for users
  • How Dennis had to work really hard at math himself, and how that perhaps affected the way that he teaches it to others
  • The former student that helped Dennis get his books into eBook format

You can watch the full video on YouTube here.

After the interview, Mark talks about writing specifically for a niche market, and uses both Mr W.'s example as well as a personal example to outline the process.

His talk includes how focusing on a niche market/niche audience usually involves identifying and resolving a problem or an issue for that target audience as well as the application of personal experience and knowledge as well as personal passion to creating and publishing that book.



Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_090_MrWMath.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:28am PDT

Episode 89 of the KWL Podcast includes on location interviews with 7 different authors conducted by Mark Lefebvre, Director of Author Relations at Kobo during the 2017 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Annual conference.

Barbara Freethy

Sharing the enjoyment she gets connecting with fellow writers at RWA, Barbara also shares info about a new romantic suspense series (a spin-off of her Storm trilogy) that she was releasing during the week of RWA, as well as a collaboration with 6 other authors called “Seven Brides for Seven Soldiers” that will be launching in the fall.


Chris Keniston

Chris discusses the strategy she used for her Faraday Country series (currently 8 books out with books 9 and 10 up for pre-order at the time of the interview), including stock-piling the first 4 books before beginning to release the series.

She also talks about how she used a permanently free Book One in the series to help propel sales of the rest of the books in this clean and wholesome romance series.

The combined effect of this stock-piling and a permanently free first book in the series has helped her triple her sales numbers.


Carrie Ann Ryan

Fresh on the heals of the recent releases of Inked Expressions and Hope Restored, Carrie Ann shares the “tree-trunk” manner by which she connects the various series books together in a cohesive whole and the multiple points of entry this creates for readers.

She also shares the combined multi-author launch of the Bad Boy Homecoming Romance connected novels as well as the slightly different branding that she uses when switching between paranormal romance and contemporary romance.


M.L. Buchman

How M.L. (Matt), who writes in 11 different series (publishing 8 books a year and at least 13 short stories, including two that appear in Fiction River #4 and Fiction River #23), doesn’t engage in social media in any significant way, but uses his newsletter to create a great value for his fans. Matt provides a free short story for his newsletter fans every single month.

Matt also shares a bit about his important book Estate Planning for Authors: Your Final Letter (and Why You Need to Write it Now)



Ember Casey & Renna Peak

Ember and Renna talk about the collaborative contemporary royalty romance series that they’ve been writing for the past 3 years (3 6 part serials that are all connected) and the way they split the writing (Ember writes the guy parts, Renna writes the girl parts).

They also share the aggressive “every 2 week” release schedule that they developed and the success of creating a large reader funnel by making the first 2 books in the original series free.


Mark Dawson

Mark talks about some of the strategies that he has used for Facebook ads, particularly the ads placed for 8 book box sets targeting Kobo customers, particularly customers in Canada and Australia. Much of Mark's shared wisdom can be found on his website SelfPublishingFormula.com

He also talks about the importance of not getting details wrong, in particular the use of weapons (which one of his most popular characters, John Milton, uses) and shares the fact that, later that same day, he was heading off to a shooting range to try various weapons first hands as the ultimate research.



At the end of the podcast, Mark Lefebvre points out a recent article that was posted on both the Kobo Writing Life website and the Kobo Writing Life Community that outlines the 5 most common reasons why a book might be rejected in the publishing process.

He shares that these posts are created specifically to help authors with finding information about particular details related to publishing on Kobo and encourages authors to take advantage of that information.

Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_089_RWA2017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:40pm PDT

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.

Currently FREE TRACKING is being refreshed and updated. But in the meantime, there's something important you should know about the FREE DOWNLOADS numbers you're seeing.

The most important has to do with PREVIEWS.  First, please don't worry, we are NOT giving your non-free books away.

At Kobo, readers have the opportunity to preview the first 5% of eBooks. Whenever an ePub file is loaded into Kobo's database, the catalog generates a unique new ePub file that is comprised of the first 5% of that full eBook, then it tacks on a final page with a "BUY Button" for the full book into the end of that ePub.

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.


Related Links:

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 writinglife@kobo.com


Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_088_FiveStrategiesUsingFree.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:49am PDT