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:
- Her latest novel, Surrender; her penchant for ending her series books with cliffhangers and the direct relation with her pre-order success; A teaser regarding her forthcoming MISADVENTURES series; some advice for beginning writers
Jeff Adams & Will Knauss
- Jeff's new release Somewhere on Mackinac and its relation to the classic film Somewhere in Time; their publisher Dreamspinner Press and collaborating on a novel; Jeff and Will's Big Gay Fiction Podcast
- Her most recent novel, Shopping for a CEO's Wife in the bestselling romantic comedy SHOPPING series of novels; the pseudonym that Julia writes romantic suspense and pulse-pounding fiction under: Meli Raine
Chloe from Written Word Media
- Opportunities for writers looking for promotions for their reduced price and free ebook titles; more places where writers can get great tips and advice
Dan from Draft2Digital
- The free universal link tool that D2D has released for authors, making it simpler than ever before to be all inclusive when linking to retail websites where people can buy their books.
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:
- The transition from teaching academic writing and literature for twenty years to the challenge of writing; first approached through blogging and ghost-writing
- Her original blogging experience, which was created for college students who were reluctant writers
- How her daughter managed to convince Gillian to join NaNoWriMo one year after long and enjoyable discussions about writing
- How long the idea of Jade and her world had sat in the back of Gillian’s mind before she sat down to write the book
- Elements that helped to make the characters in the story very real for readers; in particular the old woman character of Phyllis who is often called out by reviewers as a favorite character
- What the novel has to say about cybersecurity, identity-theft and online transactions and the tips available on Gillian’s Blog regarding that. (http://gilianbaker.com/2017/01/23/cyber-security-tips-hackers/)
- The differences and similarities between academic writing, ghost-writing and fiction writing
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/
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:
- The fact that Emily had started working on this novel before her previously released novel The Blondes
- The rum-runner history in Emily’s family and the different manner by which they traversed the water to conduct their rum running in the winter and summer
- How the story of a relative who was lost during one of these winter-time runs crashing through the ice helped to inspire Emily’s desire to explore this narrative
- The explosions of culture, literature, music and sexuality in the 1920s.
- The contrast and clash of society being both “open” and “closed” during the Prohibition Era
- Various methods of research, including old photographs, documentaries, silent films and novels written from that time period
- The concept of justice in the novel and the line “you never get caught for what you think you’re going to” that encapsulates that
- Elements of “the person who is not who they appear to be” in particular relation to religion
- The balance of mixing the “true” with the “fictional” in this historical novel
- The additional balance of being an author of fiction being a founder and senior editor of Joyland (http://www.joylandmagazine.com/) magazine
- Pairing oneself with other writers in particular locales to help ensure a slightly larger crowd at an author event
- The fun of onomatope words that came from the jazz scene of the time
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/
Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_080_EmilySchultz.mp3
-- posted at: 8:29am PST
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.
Wed, 1 March 2017
Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo Writing Life, interviews Young Adult Fantasy and Chicklit author, Katie Cross as she shares strategies about how she was able to keep writing, with even more productivity, in her transition from full time author to full time Mom.
In the chat, Katie and Mark discuss:
- Her lifelong passion of writing and her recent passion of becoming a mother (which happened about a year and a half into her 3 years of publishing career) and how she juggles both with her 18 month old.
- Some of the time-scheduling strategies she uses, which changes every month with such a young child. (For example, right now, she writes for a couple of hours during the day during nap time as well as after bed-time)
- The concept of a Mom-swap with a few neighborhood friends. On a schedule with two other stay-at-home Moms who need time for personal errands/etc they rotate on particular days of the week where all the children are at a particular mother’s house for about a three hour period. This provides Katie with about 3 additional hours to write twice per week
- Strategies in early childhood, actually holding her baby while he slept and managing to quietly tap away at the keyboard
- Other strategies used, (involving intense multi-tasking) walking the dogs while having her baby strapped onto her and dictating story ideas into her phone. (Exercise, fresh air, getting the dogs and baby for an outing AND getting some writing work done)
- How, being a Military Wife, she is able to arrange to travel to valuable writing and networking workshops like Superstars Writing Seminars
- How having limited time has made her a much more productive writer
- The way that hiring a virtual assistant has helped her maximize her writing time (Her assistant, Christina’s website is www.faithfullysocial.com
- Katie’s initial struggle to grow sales and readers at Kobo and how, over time (about a year and a half), her sales began a slow and steady build (she has been seeing growth mostly at Kobo, iBooks and Scribd since going wide)
- How, once she finished a young adult series (4 books plus a prequel and a novella) and created a bundle, the series seemed to have taken off
- The comparison of being a new parent to being an indie author
- The blog that Katie has which is meant specifically for author parents (IE: “I get it, I’m in the trenches with you”) kcrosswriting.com
After the interview, Mark reflects on the manner by which Katie has made writing a priority and how other writers who struggle with balancing multiple priorities might be inspired by her as well as a reflective writing quote that has been with him for more than 20 years.
Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_078_KatieCross.mp3
-- posted at: 8:08am PST
Mon, 13 February 2017
From his role as a guest faculty member at Superstars Writing Seminars, Kobo Writing Life director Mark Lefebvre interviewed professional photographer Lauren Lang who was on site to help attending authors get a professional author photo. In the interview Mark and Lauren discuss:
- Lauren’s start in the industry in journalism and her desire to use a visual medium as her preferred method of telling and sharing stories
- The desire of capturing a moment in photography and causing an emotional reaction in the viewer/audience
- Some of the differences between “posed” and more “candid” photography and Lauren’s desire to love people in the midst of emotion, catching them emoting and enjoying themselves in the moment
- The methods that Lauren uses turning the “inherently unnatural” environment of posed photography into something where the subject doesn’t feel so uncomfortable or self-conscious
- The importance of being real when Lauren is trying to draw the author and their story out as part of the photo shoot
- Some of the tricks that an author might use when preparing for a professional photo shoot, including moving beyond the “getting an author head shot is something I have to do” to thinking about this as being something for their fans (even if they’re a beginning author and don’t yet have a fan base)
- A look at some of the “do not do’s” and “mis-steps” that people make when trying to select a good head-shot, including using a photo that actually looks like you (rather than the way you looked a few decades earlier)
- What an author should look for when finding a photographer to hire/work with
- A look at expression in photography from a study from Photofeeler.com
Mark then reflects on the author photo, a projected image, authenticity and how that might all role into a larger picture of author brand.
Links of interest:
Jacobin Photography Website
Jacobin Photography on Facebook
Lauren Lang on Instagram
Lauren Lang on Twitter
Superstars Writing Seminars
Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_077_LaurenLang.mp3
-- posted at: 9:00pm PST
Wed, 1 February 2017
On site at Superstars Writing Seminars, Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre interviews Joshua Essoe, freelance editor. In their discussion Mark and Joshua discuss:
- What led him to writing (the author’s notes at the end of a Piers Anthony novel he had picked up at an early age) and then, more specifically, what led him into editing
- The role that Brandon Sanderson played, at the very first Superstars Writing Seminars in Pasadena, in launching Joshua onto the patch towards editing
- The editing pitch that Joshua did to David Farland, which led to Joshua editing his Award-Winning Novel Nightingale
- The struggle that Joshua deals with in making the time to write while having such a heavy editing workload
- The benefit of consultation calls between a writer and an editor when the writer is at the early stages of working on their novel
- The types of works that Joshua mostly works on, including the types of manuscripts he would like to see more of (horror)
- The process of finding an editor who is a good fit for a particular writer
- A look at the different types of edits that an editor can do, or that different editors specialize in
- The benefit to a freelance editor of working with repeat clients
- The most common errors that Joshua has seen that writers make (and where a good editor can help them)
- Reflections on the difference between American English and British English
- Some of Joshua’s forthcoming projects including an anthology Joshua is co-creating with James A. Owen entitled Magic Makers (including stories by Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony, Peter Beagle)
After the interview, Mark shares some thoughts on how an element such as a post-text authors note can serve an important part in helping a reader feel more connected with a writer.
Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_076_JoshuaEssoe.mp3
-- posted at: 9:13pm PST
Wed, 18 January 2017
Instead of the regular interview with an author or industry person, episode 75 of the podcast features Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre pausing to look at some of the most successful Kobo Writing Life authors on Kobo for 2016.
He compiles a list of the top 5 things that the most successful authors in terms of both unit sales and net sales all have in common, and tries to break them down into things that you as an author might consider in your own business plans for success.
The items are:
1) Genres / Genre Fiction - the top authors are all writing books in genre fiction, with Romance and Mystery/Thriller/Suspense being consistently in the top
2) Series - many of the top titles are either books written in a series, or, if not, involve an aggressive production schedule far quicker than traditional publishing schedules
3) Targeted and Appealing Visuals / Covers - the covers for the books aren't just professional and attractive, but they're attractive to the right audience, to a very targeted audience or demographic that drills down, even into the sub-genres within a category
4) Author Branding / Series Branding - directly in line with the visuals, the author brand on a book makes a particular promise to a particular type of reader based on the way it is presented.
5) Inclusive Publishing/Promoting / Going Wide - obviously, the authors who were most successful at Kobo published to Kobo. Seems obvious, but drilling down into some of the more subtle ways not just to "go wide" but to "be wide"
Lefebvre then wraps up by taking about, particularly to insiders at Kobo, the important different between Unit Sales and Net Sales and why booksellers like Kobo might have a preferential lean towards one over the other.
Tue, 3 January 2017
Mark Lefebvre, Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations for Kobo is the host for this episode, and introduces a memorable clip from Episode 279 of The Creative Penn Podcast where Joanna Penn talks compares walking the 100KM "Race to the Stones" with writing.
In her talk, Joanna goes into the details regarding 9 Lessons Learned About Writing from Walking 100K in a Weekend:
- Deadlines and specific goals help you achieve more
- It’s good to have a goal, but training (and the journey) is the point
- Stamina builds up over time with practice
- You need a support team, but nobody can do the steps for you
- There are fun parts, but some of it will be hell
- Don’t compare yourself to others. The race is only with yourself
- Follow the path others have set before you
- It’s worth spending money to get the right gear
- A lot of people give up along the way – persistence is the key to success
Mark then talks a bit about the beginning and end of the year as common goal-setting times for writers, and shares 5 of the bigger writing goals he had set for himself in 2016. He goes into detail, explaining the highs of meeting deadlines and goals, and the struggles with not achieving a goal (including his own 10 year struggle with getting his novel A Canadian Werewolf in New York published - he started working on it on a series from The Writing Show Podcast back in 2006) - something likely every writer faces.
Links of Interest from this episode
The Creative Penn Podcast
Episode 279 of The Creative Penn Podcast with Roz Morris
Joanna Penn's books on Kobo (About Writing)
Joanna's J.F. Penn novels on Kobo
KWL Episode 32 - Interview with Dan Rubinstein
The "Getting Published with Mark Leslie" episodes of The Writing Show
Mark's A Canadian Werewolf in New York on Kobo
Wed, 21 December 2016
Colson Whitehead, is the author of Zone One; Sag Harbor; The Intuitionist, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award; John Henry Days, which won the Young Lions Fiction Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Apex Hides the Hurt, winner of the PEN Oakland Award.
Colson is interviewed by Kobo’s Nora Parker about his latest book, The Underground Railroad, which is an Oprah's Book Club pick.
- Whitehead’s decision to play with the quirky premise of “what if the underground railroad was a real railroad?”
- The navigation of research and how it gets interwoven into the fiction; but the fact that this is not a historical novel and that it doesn’t stick to any real world chronology
- The freeing aspect of not being beholden to reality when crafting a novel
- The manner by which the novel addresses the two opposing viewpoints and biases that take the same passage(s) from the bible and use it to either oppose or support slavery
- The choice of the opening setting in North Carolina and the different arenas for Cora to be tested, and how that allowed for the examination of different types of racism and social structures
- The concepts of racism in pre-Civil War America to the concepts of racism as it exists today in modern America
- The historic use of rendering of dialect in the dialogue between white and black characters compared to how it is done in this novel
- The music Whitehead listens to while writing, when he listens to Purple Rain from Prince and Debut Nation from Sonic Youth and how David Bowie is in every book
- How Whitehead felt about being selected for the Oprah Book Club
- The adept characterization and relationships of the kids in Whitehead’s novel Sag Harbor and how the characters evolved from inspiration from real people into their own unique fictional characters within the novel
KWL Director Mark Lefebvre talks about the concept of writers listening to music while working and then asks KWL listeners to share their own habits and practices when it comes to listening to (or not listening to) music or other ambient noises while writing.
Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_073_ColsonWhitehead.mp3
-- posted at: 3:12pm PST