Thu, 18 June 2015
KWL US Manager Christine Munroe interviews Carla King, a travel writer and self-publishing expert. Tune in to hear them discuss:
- What self-publishing was like when Carla started out in 1995.
- Self-Publishing Boot Camp, the program of books and workshops that Carla co-founded and continues to manage.
- Balancing writing travel books and how-to guides.
- Tips for effective social media presence.
- Highlights from Carla's latest book, The Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors.
After the show, KWL Author Care Coordinator Vanessa Ghosh offers tips for creating reflowable ePubs.
Direct download: Carla_King_Podcast.mp3
-- posted at: 12:28pm PDT
Thu, 4 June 2015
KWL US Manager Christine Munroe interviews Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo. They discuss:
*National Novel Writing Month, the creative challenge in which authors write 50,000 words during the month of November, or 1,667 words per day.
*The origins of NaNoWriMo, which began with 21 people in 1999 and has grown to support hundreds of thousands of writers each year.
*Why November? If you can write a novel in November, you can write one anytime. It's a busy time of year leading into the December holidays.
*NaNoWriMo's other initiatives, including Camp NaNoWriMo and the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program.
*Even if you don't "win" by hitting the 50k word count, every participant is a winner for choosing to make creativity a priority.
KWL is a proud sponsor of NaNoWriMo for the third year in a row. Stay tuned as we embark on this challenge in November with our annual KoBoWriMo team!
Direct download: Grant_Faulkner.mp3
-- posted at: 6:34am PDT
Tue, 26 May 2015
This episode, recorded in collaboration with the Northern Colorado Writers Conference, opens in a conversation with Rich Keller, Assistant Director and Electronics Media Manager of Northern Colorado Writers, as well as an author, editor and the publisher of Wooden Pants Publishing.
Rich talks about:
- the use of humor in his writing and publishing and how specific humor can be for different audiences
- the "Wooden Pants Readings" programming being used to help build this up
- how Rich has learned more in the past three months than he did the entire other year
- the difference between IngramSpark and CreateSpace and how Rich has been using each for print books
- use of Embedded Fonts and TrueType Fonts in a print/POD file
- the five year plan that Rich has set up to be doing writing and publishing full time and the importance of time and patience
The second part of this podcast features a panel conversation between Kelly Baugh, Carrie Visintainer and Mark Leslie (aka KWL Director Mark Lefebvre, with his author hat on)
Kelly Baugh, author of the new novel Miss You Once Again (Hot Chocolate Press) mentions:
- The inspiration for Kelly's book that came through her grandmother
- How Kelly had joined a write's group, spend a lot of time listening, and then attended the NCWC and started pitching the book idea
- How Hot Chocolate Press picked up the book unexpectedly after Kelly had given up on it
- The cookbook that this book inspired; particularly the manner by which Kelly's publisher kick-started the idea
- How Kelly could have written a whole cookbook on desserts alone as part of this project
Carrie Visintainer, author of the upcoming book Wild Mama (Thought Catalog Books) discusses:
- How her writer's group helped Carrie decided to combine her travel essays into a book about traveling with children
- How, when the book was finished, instead of feeling excited, she felt like she wanted to puke due to the next steps involved
- How the business plan or book proposal was as important as the manuscript itself
- The manner by which her agent made the manuscript into a much better book
- How closing one door can often open several other doors
Mark Leslie talks about:
- How embracing both traditional publishing and self-publishing has, essentially doubled his writing income
- Remembering that publishing is a business and that some books don't make economic sense for a publisher to produce; but that doesn't mean it won't make economic sense to self-publish
- How publishers and agents are constantly scanning the bestseller lists for self-published titles in the same way that they read from the slush pile
At the end of the conversations, KWL Director Mark Lefebvre talks about how a fantastic book meant for traditional publishing can be applied in the new world of DIY publishing and spotlights Noah Lukeman's The First Five Pages.
Northern Colorado Writers
NCW Podcast - Episode #7 (Featuring Mark Lefebvre from Kobo)
NCW Podcast - Episode #9 (Authors Panel)
Wooden Pants Publishing
Hot Chocolate Press
Old Firehouse Books (local Fort Collins bookstore)
Mon, 4 May 2015
Director of Global Merchandising at Kobo, Nathan Maharaj interviews Dan Rubinstein, author of Born To Walk: The Transformative Power of A Pedestrian Act.
Nathan and Dan discuss:
- · The fascinating manner by which we are pre-disposed to bipedalism
- · How, when he travels, Nathan prefers walking to get to his destination rather than figure out foreign transit systems
- · The physical, psychological and social implications of having pushed the walking activity out of our lives and how “sitting is the new smoking”
- · Treadmill desks and how the experiment with that didn’t work so well for Dan. It was in the basement, thus dank and dark and without a window. Physically, it was okay, but Dan learned he was far more productive at his desk and would rather get the work done more efficiently to leave more room for walking.
- · How it’s not just about walking, but also about the environment and the mind paying “effortless” attention to the surroundings, the serenity and the benefits
- · The recent research on the relationship between walking and creativity and how they both evolved at the same time
- · The manner by which we get together in groups and walk together; for protests, for celebrations and parades, for grieving, and more
- · How people perceive neighbourhoods and locations differently when driving through in a car rather than walking by the exact same scene
- · The phrase and sentiment of “walk more anywhere”
- · The masked character Peatónito – the defender and protector of pedestrians in Mexico
- · How the design of urban centers and our reliance on instant gratification seem to have channeled our focus onto the reliance of the car and less on walking
Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre then speaks a bit about price points and global price-point strategy, outlining why it is important for authors to manually control all of the currencies they have edit access to rather than depending on the system to do the auto-conversion for them. He offers some advice based on the various differences in the dollar between US and other global currencies such as the Canadian and Australian dollars.
Mark also speaks about the fact that there isn’t a price cap of $9.99 to receive 70% via Kobo Writing Life. With no cap on the 70% royalty, authors can and should take advantage of creating more expensive digital box sets offering their customers a great value but earning the author a higher margin.
Born to Walk on Kobo
Born to walk website
ECW page for Born to Walk
Direct download: KWL_EP032_DanRubinstein.mp3
-- posted at: 7:45pm PDT
Wed, 15 April 2015
Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre interviews Alex P. Berg, author of the “Daggers and Steel” sci-fi mystery series. In the interview Mark and Alex talk about:
- Meeting at the Superstars Writing Seminars in Colorado Springs, CO.
- What Alex calls “The Superstars Effect”
- How, when Alex had finished his novel and started querying agents and publishers, he ended up getting nowhere fast. That was when his wife gave him a proverbial kick in the pants, telling him that if he was serious about this writing thing, he better figure out a way to get it done.
- The effect of seeing how hard the pro writers presenting at the Superstars Writing Seminars worked to achieve their success combined with their passion for it and how that inspire Alex to keep at it.
- Starting out as a fan of science fiction and fantasy, then watching Brandon Sanderson’s online workshops, and following David Farland’s online and daily email writing tips as a way to get started
- The commitment to finding and making the time to write while balancing a full time job and a family. How giving up other activities that weren’t progressing Alex down the writing path he had wanted helped in this regard.
- The realization that anyone who says the cover doesn’t matter is a whole lot of B.S. and how Alex found experts to assist with the professional touches in his books. Alex used South African based cover designer: Damonza, and for an editor, he relied on a personal recommendation from an author friend at Superstars Writing Seminars.
- The business plan approach that Alex took in which he worked at putting some money aside in order to afford some of the professional services for his books; with a highlight that he knew this would be a long term plan rather than just looking for some sort of short-term payback for his work. (IE, the income stream is going to last for a long time) If you’re looking at trying to earn your $2000 back, for example, right away, you’re likely to be disappointed.
- How, even though the success for his first few books came a lot sooner than he had planned or expected, his long term goals and plans haven’t been altered or changed.
- The fact that it is absolutely true what they say about your second book.
- The importance of accurate and specific metadata in helping the right readers discover your books
- The music Alex listens to while he is writing, including something called “melodic death metal” which is not a lot like regular death metal.
- The band Alestorm and their brand of “True Scottish Pirate Metal” which Alex is listening to while working on a forthcoming project.
- One thing Alex wished he had learned a bit earlier and it was that there are great options out there for writers and that self-publishing can be a very viable option.
After the interview, Mark discusses the concept of productivity that Alex spoke about and reads a short piece from Kevin J. Anderson's book Million Dollar Productivity and provides a coupon code allowing authors to get the book for $0.99 (rather than the $8.99 USD / $9.99 CDN price it is listed for). Use coupon code MILLION99 during checkout. (Please note that the coupon is only good until the end of May 2015)
Direct download: KWL_EP031_AlexPBerg.mp3
-- posted at: 1:32pm PDT
Mon, 16 March 2015
Mark Lefebvre, Kobo Writing Life Director, in conversation with Dean Wesley Smith, a USA Today Bestselling author of books in multiple genres including Science-Fiction, Mystery, Thrillers and Westerns.
Currently producing novels in four different series, Smith is also the co-publisher of WMG Publishing along with his partner Kristine Kathryn Rusch and runs a series of workshops designed to help writers become smarter not only about the craft but also about the business of publishing.
During their conversation, Dean and Mark talk about:
- · The fact that Dean wasn’t born into writing, actually loathed it when he was in college (He has a Masters in Architecture)
- · The various careers and roles that Smith played during his life, including his past as a Pro Golfer and hot dog skier
- · How his goal of being a Golf Course Architect led to writing via an English course that he had to take.
- · The English Professor who told Smith that his writing was too commercial
- · The writing class that forced Smith to submit a poem to a college poetry market (at which he won second place and $300) – at the time, he had to go see the professor to ask about it because he had no idea what it meant
- · After this experience, Smith tried his hand at fiction, wrote a 1000 word short story and mailed it off to a market right away. Then he wrote a second story and mailed that off right away. Both stories sold immediately.
- · How, after these first three successes, Smith started listening to people’s advice (AKA myths) about writing, and re-wrote his stories to dead, and for the next 7 years never sold a single thing
- · It wasn’t until 1982 that Smith ran across Robert Heinlein’s Business Rules of Writing, followed the advice, started selling again and has never looked back (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/heinleins-business-rules/)
o 1 – You Must Write
o 2 – You Must Finish What You Start
o 3 – You Must Refrain From Rewriting Except to Editorial Order
o 4 – You Must Put It on The Market
o 5 – You Must Keep It on The Market Until Sold
- · Dean’s books: Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing and Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing.
- · The magazine that Dean and Kristine Kathryn Rusch ran for 9 years, called Pulphouse.
- · The Starfleet Corps of Engineers Series that Dean kicked off in the Star Trek Universe – a series about the people who follow up after Captain Kirk, cleaning up his messes (which was originally meant to be an eBook back in 2000 and knocked John Grisham off the eBook bestseller list when it was released)
- · The challenge of writing within an existing restrictive universe, such as Star Trek, such as the reader having to hear Shatner’s voice when writing the character Captain Kirk.
- · Smith’s lesson for writers creating character voice by paying really close attention to the differences in voice you can easily see created for the Star Trek characters of Kirk, Spock and McCoy
- · Regency Romance as one of the only genres that Smith really can’t write in
- · How Westerns, (the old West) and Science-Fiction are two of Smith’s go-two genres for writing.
- · The FICTION RIVER anthology series that Smith edits with Kristine Kathryn Rusch and how this river of fiction brings in new talent along with some major names from the genre. (For example, the latest FICTION RIVER property, Pulse Pounders, edited by Kevin J. Anderson, included a previously unpublished sci-fi story by Frank Herbert)
- · The Oregon Coast workshops where the FICTION RIVER anthologies are derived that include a board of 6 Editors critiquing the stories live on stage and how that helps inform writers that what one editor rejects another editor might have bought
- · How the workshops that Dean and Kris started originated as the “Denise Little” short story workshops; because of the similarity to the way that editor/agent Denise Little liked to teach these principles
- · A bit about Smith’s Monthly Magazine, which has both a paper and an eBook edition
- · How Smith sees the approximate 80,000 words that he writes each month as still “not enough”
- · Smith’s ongoing Blog in which he shares daily insights: Writing in Public
- · How the teaching that Smith does is part of his desire to try to give back or pay forward to the industry in the way that the industry and writers before Smith have given so much to him
- · One of the biggest myths from indie publishing, regarding indie writers not being able to get their indie published books into bookstores and the “fairy dust” that has long been spread regarding that
- · How Smith isn’t anti-traditional but is 100% pro smart-writer
Dean Wesley Smith’s Books at Kobo
WMG Publishing Workshops
WMG Publishing Lectures
Fiction River Anthologies (website)
Fiction River Anthologies (Kobo)
Direct download: KWL_EP030_DeanWesleySmith.mp3
-- posted at: 6:48pm PDT
Mon, 23 February 2015
KWL Director Mark Lefebvre interviews Kristine Kathryn Rusch, an award-winning writer of science fiction, fantasy, mystery and romance, at Superstars Writing Seminars.
Apart from her decades of writing and editing experience which includes being published in 14 different countries in 13 languages, Rusch co-runs a publishing business (WMG Publishing) with her partner Dean Wesley Smith and provides authors invaluable insights about writing and publishing through her popular blog series: The Business Rusch.
During the conversation, Mark and Kris talk about:
- · Her recent book, Discoverability and how it was derived from about 6 months’ worth of blog posts outlining a bit about the history of publishing and how it relates to where we are today
- · A disclaimer that, unless you’ve already published about 10 books, you aren’t likely to be able to use the advice from this book
- · The Business Rusch, the blog in which Rusch provides valuable insights that many smart writers ensure they read every week
- · Rusch has been a professional writer since she was sixteen years old and wrote an article for the local newspaper (insert appropriate and in-appropriate age jokes and laughing here)
- · How Rusch and author Kevin J. Anderson met while in college as like-minded writers with similar goals and how that social group expanded into relationships they’ve both had with writer friends ever since
- · How much Rusch gives back to the writing community and why she feels it’s important to pay it forward to other writers the way that she was provided help, insights and support from writers who took the time to help her
- · The selfish reason why Rusch gives back – because she’s an avid reader and wants more great books to read
- · The biggest pitfall that writers fall into – that they don’t know enough about the business of writing
- · The reason why Rusch stopped editing full-time – how living in that critical space can affect your writing style and writing brain
- · The concept of “reader cookies” – a term that Rusch learned from editor Gardner Dozois – as well as “anti-cookies” and how that can affect an editor
- · Rusch’s love of “secret identity” stories
- · The various different pseudonyms that Rusch has written under in various styles and genres, including Kristine Grayson, Kris Nelscott, and Kristine Dexter.
- · How Rusch puts up a free short story on her blog every Monday that people can check out with no strings attached.
- · Rusch’s statement of advice to beginning writers
Mark then talks a bit more about the books for writers that Rusch has written and shares a personal experience about how reading the book Deal Breakers helped him in a very significant way when he was negotating a contract for one of his most recent books, Tomes of Terror.
Rusch's book: Discoverability
Rusch's book: Deal Breakers: Contract Terms Writers Should Avoid
The Business Rusch
Direct download: KWL_EP029_KristineKathrynRusch.mp3
-- posted at: 8:36am PDT
Mon, 9 February 2015
Kobo Writing Life director Mark Lefebvre recently attended the 2015 Superstars Writing Seminars (Teaching you the business of being a writer) in Colorado Springs, CO. During the conference, he had a chance to interview several of the faculty and guest lecturers.
Presented here is Mark's interview with Superstars Faculty member James A. Owen a comic book illustrator, publisher and writer who is best known for the comic book series Starchild and the The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica novels.
Highlights from the discussion include:
- How Owen got to know Kevin J. Anderson and was first invited to be a guest instructor of Superstars Writing Seminars and that led to a permanent Faculty position
- The collaboration that Owen is working on with with Kevin
- The regular Standing Ovation that Owen's "Drawing out the Dragons" talk receives
- The speaking that Owen has done in Middle Grade schools, Art Schools and for Corporations
- Mark pauses to express the wonder he feels whenever Owen gives a talk, harking on how James is an example of one of the ultimate types of oral storyteller
- The mixture of storyteller and artist and how Owen self-identifies as a "Comic Guy"
- The manner by which the story beautifully derives from the words and pictures coming together
- How Owen puts the needs of others, of those he meets, those he works with, those who look to him for advice first
- Owen's perspective on how all of us are born into this world without prejudice, without hate, without anger; but how some can become conditioned to that. The shewing of things into a positive light is a choice James makes as a way to perceive a life in an attempt to return to the more natural state
- Owen's roll at Superstars in terms of a question he asks, which is "How can I serve you?"
- The philosophy of deciding to make things happen or allowing things to happen to you and the manner by which Owen embraces that at all turns
- Being in the depths of despair, and how Owen had posted publicly regarding where he had been and the demons he had been struggling with the previous year, his public posting of it and how, in the middle of it, he still had to do the "Drawing Out the Dragons" presentation on an empty gas tank
- Owen's belief in the attendees of the Superstars Writing Seminars and how he knew that they all had his back and would not let him down
- The difficulty most people have in not surfacing those personal struggles in believing that we won't be listened to and that we will be judged for our struggle. Which is why Owen is so open about that
- An intriguing depression-help line discussion that Owen was involved in when he'd been struggling with his own demons
- A moment when a story Owen shares is so emotional that interviewer Lefebvre is overcome with emotion and is rendered speechless
- Advice for writers: How no writer ever wrote a great book without first having finished it. Finish it and then it can be made better
- Owen's next projects: The Fool's Hollow novels (the novel versions of the stories told in Starchild) and The Hundred.
Mark then discusses the importance of drawing attention to mental health issues such as depression, which can affect writers and other creative types, outlining the need to discuss these things openly in an understanding way, rather than trying to blame those who suffer from mental health issues. He mentions online resources that might help in Canada (Healthy Minds Canada), the US (Mental Health America) and the UK (Mental Health Foundation)
Direct download: KWL_EP028_JamesAOwen.mp3
-- posted at: 5:51pm PDT
Fri, 30 January 2015
In the fall of 2014, Louise Penny visited Kobo's home office in Toronto and was interviewed by Toronto editor and book enthusiast Jen Knoch for a special Kobo in Conversation video.
Introduced by Kobo's Director of Communications, Tracy Nesdoly, Knoch interviews Penny in front of a live audience about her writing, followed by a Q&A from the audience. In the discussion, Knoch and Penny discuss:
- The difference between murder in a large city and murder in a the country in an idyllic small town setting like Three Pines
- How Louise had written the original Three Pines novel thinking of it as a stand-alone novel that she wanted to write mostly for herself
- How, when the book was originally written as an exploration of the world being dark (it was written post-9/11) and then modified to encompass a more warm and pleasant setting where the depth of friendship and the connections between people was more prominent – where the cast of characters would be people she would like to have as friends
- How the inspiration for the first Three Pines novels was inspired from a few specific lines from the poet WH Auden
- How it takes a whole lot more courage to be kind than it does to be cruel to others; and how the majority of characters of Three Pines are filled with so much compassion
- Good people who might have done bad things and bad people who are also capable of doing good things
- How Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is a balanced and complex character with flaws and strengths and yet is an incredible human being
- How Penny tries to hint at and provide information in order to let the reader imagine, creating a rich reading experience
- How Penny’s first draft can be akin to a “huge pile of merde” – and the cutting and tweaking and polishing that happen in the next drafts and how she does 5 or 6 drafts before anyone else (ie, her editor) sees the manuscript
- Penny’s belief that there isn’t a single “right way” to approach writing – how different writers will find different approaches that work for them
The dial-up connections in Three Pines are very much based on where Penny lives (where she only has a dial-up connection), and Penny’s expression that it sounds, when you are connecting, that the internet is in pain.
- How the more high tech we become, the more we yearn for intimacy, and how that ties into the fictional setting of Three Pines quite wonderfully
- The interesting news Penny rec’d from her agent when, upon selling the first book to a publisher, she had also sold the second and third books
- How she was inspired to show the “critic” who had been writing the follow-up books the door and to let the Creative Spirit inside her write the first draft; and how important that was to free her up (and how that second book ended up winning the Agatha Award in 2013
- The importance of giving yourself permission to make mistakes in that first draft
- How Penny writes “Fair Play” mysteries in which the reader realizes, at the end, that all the clues were there for them to solve it.
- How she knows, before she begins writing, who did it, how the person died as well as the overall theme of the book
After the interview, Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre comments on a few of the things Penny mentioned and then talks about a new feature on Kobo Writing Life which allows authors the ability to enter the Volume Number for a Series into the system for their books.
Lefebvre explains the critical importance that clean metadata plays in assisting readers with finding the right book and how Kobo intends on using this clean data to assist with the automatic curation of series books for customers who adore them.
Direct download: KWL_EP027_LouisePenny.mp3
-- posted at: 3:05pm PDT
Sat, 24 January 2015
Kobo and Kobo Writing Life have long been known for being open, social and collaborative. And this episode of the Kobo Writing Life podcast is no exception. In fact, to start 2015 off on the right foot, we thought it would be useful, in our ongoing communication with authors regarding the importance of making your work available on multiple platforms, and not just on Kindle, to help with that.
This episode contains a collection of tips curated from the Author Marketing Podcast by Author Marketing Institute founder Jim Kukral covering tips and things you might not know about publishing a book to Kobo, Nook (Barnes & Noble), iBooks (Apple) and Google Play.
Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre sets up the various clips from Jim's fantastic podcast. The tips that Jim shares are from the following original podcasts
7 Things You Didn't Know About Publishing A Book on Google Play
1) The Play Store is popular
2) You can post your book for free
3) It has Permafree benefits
4) There's less competition
5) It takes patience
6) Keywords matter
7) For some authors it's #1 or #2
Read the full blog post with details or listen to the Author Marketing Podcast
6 Things You Didn't Know About Publishing A Book on Apple iBooks
1) Apple is the #2 US eBook retailer
2) You need a MAC or a 3rd party to publish
3) More readers have iBooks access
4) Content is curated
5) You need to show your support
6) There are features you can't find on Amazon
Read the full blog post with details or listen to the Author Marketing Podcast
6 Things You Didn't Know About Publishing A Book on Nook Press
1) Nook is on the decline
2) Indie authors dominate the bestseller list
3) You need to pay attention to format
4) Support has a bad reputation
5) Connections with merchandisers are key
6) It's still #2 for many authors
Read the full blog post with details or listen to the Author Marketing Podcast
5 Important Things To KNow About Publishing A Digital Book on Kobo
1) It has an international focus
2) Kobo took over for SONY
3) You can schedule promos ahead of time
4) There's a page for Free Book Promos
5) Success requires networking
Read the full blog post with details or listen to the Author Marketing Podcast
There's also discussion about the Author Marketing Live events as well as other great resources from AMI, including: