Kobo Writing Life Podcast (general)

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
Category:general -- posted at: 5:51pm PDT

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
Category:general -- posted at: 3:05pm PDT

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:



Direct download: KWL_026_ImportantThingsToKnowAboutDigitalPublishing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13am PDT

This podcast includes a roundtable discussion with Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo Writing Life as well as three other Kobo employees (Bessie, Camille and Shayna) who participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2014.

The round table discussion includes the following:


  • ·         Camille talks about the fact that during last year’s attempt, she wrote about 25,000 words and that this year she wrote the entire 50,000 words. This year she took on a completely new project (rather than attempting the same one she attempted in 2013. Camille says she felt she got trapped in the wrong direction with last year’s project, and that might have been what prevented her from completing the novel. This year, she prepared a synopsis in advance, and that is what she felt helped her.
  • ·         This was Shayna’s first attempt at NaNoWriMo – though she has written novels before – and she wasn’t sure, going in, how she would do with the 30 day deadline involved.  Though she completed the 50,000 word limit, she is still, in no way finished the book she is working on.  (She estimates the book’s length will be in the realm of 100,000 words)
  • ·         Bessie, a self-confessed math nerd, admits this is the first time she has attempted writing of this nature. The whole experience was new to her and when it first started she was quite excited and wrote quite a bit, but then the “fun” aspect fell away, and so, too, did the writing. Her feeling was that the pressure of the deadline pushed her in the opposite direction – now that November and the NaNoWriMo deadline is out of the way, the writing has become fun for her again.
  • ·         Mark got to 50,000 words at the “11th hour” cranking out close to 18,000 words in the final two days, so did complete the goal, but is still several thousand words away from the conclusion of his novel.
  • ·         Shayna found that the deadline worked for her, despite her initial thoughts that it wouldn’t be a good experience for her.
  • ·         The group discussed the question about pre-planning and reveal who was a “pantser” and who was a “plotter” – who went just from notes and who created a chapter by chapter outline
  • ·         How the roadmap of the chapter by chapter outline helped Camille, even though she didn’t follow it precisely the entire time.
  • ·         The fun that can happen when your characters make their own decisions and take you to places or situations that you hadn’t originally intended or planned.
  • ·         How Shayna doesn’t always have her characters completely fleshed out in advance and how they discover their own voice as the story rolls out.
  • ·         There is a discussion regarding whether or not they approached writing their novels in a linear fashion (ie, from the beginning of the novel to the end of the novel in the manner it would be read), or if they skipped around and wrote a number of scenes to be pieced into order for the final draft later.
  • ·         Conventions of inserting notes into the manuscript in order to keep writing, such as Mark’s use of inserting square brackets [with a note like this] inside the text for spots in which he might need to do research later on and fill in gaps, or Shayna’s use of the letters TK as inserted into the text to denote spots that required filling in later (based on the principle that this is a very uncommon letter combination – thus, searching the document text later for ‘TK’ returns those spots you need to find and fill later.
  • ·         The importance of avoiding the research rabbit-hole that can happen to a writer, but with an example of how one of those rabbit holes actually helped inspire Mark with an entire scene (based just on looking at a particular area of Toronto using Google Maps)
  • ·         A discussion of what’s next for these particular book projects now that NaNoWriMo is over.
  • ·         Is it harder to write serious literary fiction as opposed to some of the other more “fun” genres
  • ·         The answer to the question: What was one thing that you learned from NaNoWriMo that you’re going to take forward in your writing?



Mark then discusses the concept of “winning” or “losing” NaNoWriMo, with a thought that, ANYTHING you wrote during NaNoWriMo, regardless of your final word count, means that you are a winner. Drawing from his own personal experience of having “not won” NaNoWriMo in 2006, yet managed to take the project he had started more than half a dozen years ago and work it into a novel that will be coming out in 2015, means the effort he put into it back then was part of the process of getting that novel done, and well worth it.




Shayna's KWL article entitled "Dear Writing: I Hate You!"

The KWL article Shayna wrote about the importance of daydeaming

Mark's appearance on The Writing Show podcast (in 2006) in which he did NOT win NaNoWroMo

Direct download: KWL_025_PostNaNoWriMoDiscussion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:38pm PDT

This podcast includes the full and unabridged audio feed of the Kobo in Conversation interview with Kathy Reichs conducted by Bob Ramsay and hosted by Kobo's Senior Director of Communications Tracy Nesdoly.

The interview covers the following:

  • The “Big Bang Break” that happens in an investigation – that one moment when realization explodes and the search hurdles forward on the right trajectory.
  • The new YA writing she is doing in collaboration with her son
  • How, even though she has sold millions of copies of her novels around the world, has a television series based on her popular recurring character Temperance Brennan, she is still on tour and treats every new book with the same enthusiasm as her first book
  • Kathy’s perspective on the book publishing business and the promotion and sale of books in the next five years, with respect to the fact that recent UK stats of Kathy’s books show print sales up 30% and the electronic sales are up 68%
  • The importance of a presence on social media and the fact that Kathy does all her own Twitter
  • The difference between the book “Tempe” and the TV “Tempe” – and how on the TV show Teperance Brennan is a writer who writes a series about a fictional anthropologist named Kathy Reichs (a little tongue-in-cheek inside joke for her readers)
  • The electronic-only “Viral” series of stories that feature the Tempe’s great niece (Tory Brennan) and is about kids using science to solve cold cases.
  • How Bones Never Lie is Kathy’s second book about a female serial killer.
  • Behind the scenes on the inspiration for Kathy’s novel Monday Mourning, based on Kathy’s real-life experience involving the eerie discovery of bones in a cellar.
  • The terrible occupational hazard that comes with cases in which the victims are truly innocent.
  • The forensic work that Kathy has done in places such as Iraq, the World Trade Centre and an interesting trip in which Kathy and a group of other authors took a Black Hawk helicopter to thank front-line troups in Afghanistan.
  • What Kathy’s next book is going to be about and how it is drawn from intrigue and mystery from the Carolina Mountains.
  • How and when storytelling came into this scientist’s life, including “The Mystery in the Old House” a hand-written “novel” Kathy had written when she was 9 years old.
  • How a forensic examiner has to learn how to be objective and separate themselves from the personal in order to properly investigate and properly represent the victim.
  • Thoughts about the “Holy Grail” of forensic mysteries.
  • How Kathy writes “good old fashioned” murder mysteries, but where the key element in solving the mystery is science.


KWL Director Mark Lefebvre talks a bit about the concept of “write what you know” based on Kathy’s experience, the experience of author Melissa Yi and for writers who don't have first hand knowledge.  The key, of course, is research.  Mark references a great article by KWL’s Shayna Krishnasamy called “I’d Rather Not Be Talking to You but I’m Writing This Book: How a Shy Writer Tackles Research” in which she outlines research options for writers and Mark also draws from his own personal experience doing research for non-fiction (Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores & Libraries) as well as fiction.



Kathy Reichs website

Bob Ramsay website

Kathy's books at Kobo






Direct download: KWL_024_KathyReichs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:02pm PDT

Listen in as KWL Director Mark Lefebvre interviews nonfiction author Michael Rank, whose titles include HISTORY'S WORST DICTATORS and FROM MUHAMMED TO BURJ KHALIFA: A Crash Course in 2,000 Years of Middle East History. Mark and Michael discuss Michael's podcast, History in Five Minutes, self-publishing from a nonfiction author's perspective, and the challenges and rewards of translating self-published titles. Michael shares his thoughts about:

  • His History in Five Minutes podcast, where Michael works to share stories about things that challenge our assumptions about the past, and the people who "shouldn't be there" in a moment of history, according to our idea of that era of history.
  • Utilizing the podcast to develop a readership, connect with fans, and promote his books.
  • "Think global, act local." There are many opportunities for independent authors to go broad and deep: broad, by reaching a global audience through online sales and translations; and deep, by cultivating relationships with niche and local readers.
  • Michael recommends trying Babelcube for their translation services.
  • Through Babelcube, translators earn a share of royalties, so they are invested in your success. Michael has worked with translators to get help with foreign marketing, for example, through translating reviews, Facebook posts, or tweets.
  • It is important to educate yourself about writing and self-publishing, but mistakes and failures are inevitable as you work through the process of publishing. Accept and learn from these failures, and find the opportunities that work best for you. The podcast worked well for Michael, but he tried many other things along the way that did not.
  • Similarly, find a writing schedule that works for your life and goals. As a PhD candidate, Michael knows that he can realistically only write for one to two hours per day.

Following the podcast interview, KWL US Manager Christine Munroe shares an exciting update: for the second year in a row, KWL is sponsoring NaNoWriMo! Starting November 1, hundreds of thousands of writers will endeavour to write 50,000 words within one month. Several KWL and Kobo staff members are participating this year, carrying on our KoBoWriMo tradition. We'll keep the KWL blog updated with the trials and tribulations of our fearless WriMos, the great prizes we are offering this year, and more. Stay tuned!

Direct download: 23_KWL_EP_023_-_Michael_Rank.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:13am PDT

KWL EP 022 - Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks

Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks met in person for the first time at Kobo’s home office in Toronto in May 2014 and were interviewed by Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre about their individual works as well as the forthcoming collaborative graphic novel they are creating together and which will be coming from First Second books in 2016.

The interview includes the following:

  • ·         How these two “Twitter bro’s” just met a few minutes before the interview (at Kobo’s home office in Toronto in May 2014)
  • ·         How Landline was a return to writing adult novels for Rainbow
  • ·         The manner by which some of the travel, airport scenes and long distance phone calls to a family while traveling were somewhat predictive in Rainbow’s journey as a touring author (and what she called “having a ‘Landline’ moment.”
  • ·         The speculative fiction element of Landline and Rainbow’s love of reading science-fiction and the “geeky time travel” elements of the novel which features a “magic phone.”
  • ·         How Rainbow wrote the novel Fangirl during NaNoWriMo and how both that novel and Landline were the fastest books that Rainbow wrote
  • ·         Faith Erin Hicks sharing the fact that she is a giant library nerd
  • ·         The ARC of Fangirl that Faith rec’d from a colleague who knew that she would like it (and that it was the first book of Rainbow’s that Faith had read)
  • ·         The cross-over in writing between the two women and Faith Erin Hicks’ The Adventures of Superhero Girl comic
  • ·         Faith’s use of Canada in this 2014 Will Eisner Award winning comic – (professing to a lack of supervillains in Canada)
  • ·         The “geekiness” factor in The Adventures of Superhero Girl and the fact that Faith wrote it with a reader like her in mind (to fill a gap that she saw in the industry)
  • ·         The cameo appearance of Faith’s local neighbourhood comic book store (Strange Adventures)
  • ·         Faith’s Mom recognizing Faith as Superhero Girl and her real life “golden brother”
  • ·         Faith’s hilarious copyright notice for her work posted online and her belief that she wouldn’t have a career if it wasn’t for making her work available online for free
  • ·         The way that Rainbow and Faith first connected via Twitter
  • ·         The Twitter connection to First Second Books and how Rainbow and Faith’s collaborative book project came together (in a very “When Harry Met Sally” way)
  • ·         How collaboration between two creators can be like a weird marriage
  • ·         The “Sherlock” tangent that Rainbow and Faith can often follow
  • ·         The importance of giving yourself permission to do something new and, importantly, the permission to try something and fail
  • ·         The fact that there will definitely be kissing in their collaborative book (because Rainbow likes to write “kissing” and Faith wants to draw “kissing”)
  • ·         The great fan art that exists for Rainbow’s previous novels from artists such as Simini Blocker 
  • ·         The mutual admiration the two have for The X-Men (particularly the “blue” characters for Rainbow)
  • ·         Faith’s adoration of the character of Marrow from The X-Men (the least popular character of all time, according to polls)
  • ·         The addictive nature and magic that happens when collaborations work really well
  • ·         How someone at Groundwood Books tweeted (well before this project was conceived) that Rainbow and Faith we work well together
  • ·         How KWL will continue to follow the progress of their collaboration (due to come out in 2016)

Mark then talks about what can happen when writers are open, social and collaborative in nature, reflecting on how Rainbow and Faith were mutual fans of one another, had connected in an online community. Mark shares his own experiences from a recent conference in which he connected with other writers, editors, publishers, librarians and booksellers, and explains the beautiful serendipity that can happen when writers take advantage of the connections and opportunities that can arise from engaging with the community.


Rainbow's Website

Rainbow on Twitter

Rainbow on Tumbler

Rainbow's Books at Kobo


Faith's Website

Faith on Twitter

Faith on Tumblr

Faith's Books at Kobo

Direct download: KWL_022_RainbowRowell_FaithErinHicks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:39pm PDT

KWL EP 021 - Diane Capri

In the latest episode of the Kobo Writing Life Podcast, we welcome NYT and USA Today bestselling author Diane Capri. KWL Content Manager Christina Potter and US Manager Christine Munroe speak with Diane - who offered jokingly to change her name to Christine for the purposes of this episode - about her daily writing life, the benefits of collaboration and mentorship, strategies for selling well on Kobo, and more. Tune in to hear about:

  • The value of being part of writing organizations. Diane has been a member of Mystery Writers of AmericaSisters in CrimeRomance Writers of America, and others, for many years. Diane talks about how she joined many groups when she began writing and how these groups of allowed her to receive feedback on writing and  upcoming projects. They are also a great place to connect with new writers and share information.
  • How to find a writing schedule that works for you. Diane's advice? Try everything- it is the best way to refine your process.
  • The importance of working closely with retailers and taking advantage of different programs that they offer. She specifically discusses Kobo's First Free in Series page as a strategy to find new readers. She also highlights that making her titles available through all retailers has been key to her success, and that exclusive programs have not worked for her. By their nature they exclude potential readers who find eBooks through other platforms.
  • Diane talks about collaboration and her author collective, The Twelve. This group worked together and released the incredibly successful DEADLY DOZEN boxed set. She discusses the process of putting the boxed set together, highlighting  pricing strategy and PR efforts to ensure the book was accessible to as many readers as possible. The ultimate goal of the group: do things that haven't been done before. Read Joanna Penn's blog post about DEADLY DOZEN's success here!
  • There has never been a better time to be a reader and writer. One of things Diane enjoys the most is that readers who may not have been able to find her books in print can easily purchase them around the world as an eBook.
  • Diane's relationship with her fans. Connecting with them is one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of being an author.
  • A sneak peek of what Diane is working on next.
Direct download: 21_Kobo_Writing_Life_Podcast_-_Episode_021.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:08pm PDT

KWL EP 020 - Pamela Fagan Hutchins

In our latest podcast, KWL US Manager Christine Munroe interviews bestselling author and self-publishing expert Pamela Fagan Hutchins. Pamela has written the book on self-publishing, WHAT KIND OF LOSER INDIE PUBLISHES, AND HOW CAN I BE ONE, TOO? In the summer of 2013, she embarked on a 60-cities-in-60-days book tour, which she organized herself (with the help of her supportive family), so she has plenty of insights and advice for working successfully with bookstores.

Listen in to Episode 020 as Pamela shares her thoughts on:

  • Her mission to serve as an exemplary self-published author, in particular when working with bookstores, so they will open the door to fellow writers.
  • Stories from the road during her 60-cities-in-60-days book tour, including the day when a book club showed up to her Boston reading… despite tornado warnings!
  • Keeping it in the family - her husband, the five children between them, and her mom all joined her on the road to help support her work.
  • Looking at self-promotion with a long-term perspective. "I'm hoping for a 10-year return," she says. Pamela recommends focusing on how to build your email list of people who welcome hearing what is next. Also, don't abuse that list - send a maximum of 2-3 updates per year.
  • Promotion is 1/3 of the game in terms of your success. The other elements? Writing, of course, and giving back to the author community.
  • Pamela's free strategy: giving away books is an amazing way to get those crucial reviews. Pricing the first book in your series for free is a great way to get started. Read her blog post on this topic here.
  • What she wishes she would have known when she started, including thoughts on exclusive programs, and why moving books in and out of various platforms hurt her more than the benefits of exclusive helped her.
  • Pseudonyms. Pamela believes, “I don’t want to make it hard for someone who discovers me, to discover other things about my writing that they might like.” However, that might not apply for writers who work in vastly different and contradictory genres, like erotica vs children’s picture books.
  • Hints about what's to come in Pamela's forthcoming novels.
Direct download: 20_Kobo_Writing_Life_Podcast_-_Episode_020.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:20pm PDT

KWL EP 019 - Hugh Howey

At a recent visit to Kobo's home office in Toronto, Hugh Howey was interviewed by KWL Director Mark Lefebvre in front of an audience of about 150 people (60 of which were local Kobo Writing Life authors) for a Kobo in Conversation video.  Here are some highlights from the discussion.


  •           Introduction of Hugh Howey and Mark Lefebvre by Tracy Nesdoly, Senior Director of Communications at Kobo
  •           Hugh talks about how interesting it is that history re-writes itself to fit the model of what people think happened – his first book was actually signed to a small press before he made the decision to try the self-publishing route
  •           Hugh also reflects on how, in 2009, he was only concentrating on print books and traditional contracts for the first book, but then noticed his eBook sales were overtaking his print book sales
  •           How Hugh was pressured by friends and family to get his book out to publishers so they could see it in bookstores
  •           How Hugh’s Mom had been a great critic, early reader and editor for his work (and Hugh’s joke about how his wife and his mother have spent years telling him about all the mistakes that he makes, which ensures they are perfectly suited for this type of role in his writing)
  •           The twenty years it took Hugh to complete the first novel (and how it wasn’t the same novel)
  •           Hugh’s first manuscript, started at age 12, which was, essentially an homage to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  •           How Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue, the first novel he completed, was written in a week
  •           How Hugh acquired “sequelitis” after finishing that first novel, and how, when you keep writing sequels you’re left always promoting your first book
  •           How Hugh met his wife when he was living the boating life (and how she pulled him ashore and inland)
  •           The constant daydreaming and stories kept in his head while he worked at various other jobs
  •           How he used to get in trouble in grammar school for that “writing daydreaming”
  •           Where the darkness that surrounds the novel WOOL comes from (particularly from a writer whose persona is friendly, outgoing and positive)
  •           How Hugh felt sick to his stomach when he was out at a fancy restaurant to celebrate signing the contract for his first book because it was something he had worked so hard on and he was now signing it away (despite the fact it was a positive experience because someone was paying him for something he had written – ie, it was “the dream”)
  •           Even though he still has a physical reaction thinking about that moment, it wasn’t a reflection on the publisher – he still loves them and has a great relationship with them, but he quickly saw how he had too much energy for them and was driving them crazy with all of the things he wanted to do
  •           Hugh reminds people that, despite it looked like he knew what he was doing all along, he was terrified, clueless and making it up as he went along
  •           A look at www.authorearnings.com and Hugh’s motivation for always putting the reader and the writer first
  •           How, bookstores come third on Hugh’s list of priorities – writers first (because without them you couldn’t have readers), then readers second
  •           Hugh asks the question of why we’re not focusing on the right things, like how to make people love books more – such as these things shaped like books that we give to students in classrooms and inadvertently team them to hate.  (If it’s shaped like a book, it better be fun)
  •           How writers are always looking for excuses not to write, and how Hugh has to channel his fear of what might happen if he stops writing into looking towards working on projects that his readers and editors want
  •           Hugh’s favourite novel I, Zombie, his most non-commercial work which represents his attempt to write about 911, and his favourite writing, which is the book Peace in Amber (a book he still gets emotional about when he speaks of it)
  •           The manner by which Hugh took the opposite tack of anything that might seem logical, such as not telling people he was a writer and had a book available
  •           Hugh’s discomfort at promoting his own work and how he would rather just work on writing the next book
  •           Social media as being a great place to connect with your existing fans rather than trying to use it to find new ones
  •           The important role that agents have played in Hugh’s career, particularly since initially, it wasn’t something that he thought he needed. Hugh shares his respect for his agent Kristen Nelson Literary Agency and the amazing agents and partners who have guided his success and earned every penny along the way
  •           Hugh’s desire to see editors, cover artists, beta readers and all those unsung heroes whose efforts make books better, known and loved and celebrated (Example is an interview Hugh recently did with one of his cover artists, Jason Smith – [link to his blog post])
  •           How Agencies might, in the future, look like law firms. Imagine FreethyAndre and Howey.
  •           The importance to not run from labels, like “self-published author” – Hugh is proud to call himself a self-published author
  • How H.M. Ward continues to turn down multiple 7 figure offers from publishers because their marketing plans aren’t offering anything she hasn’t already built for herself
  • The role that NaNoWriMo has played in Hugh’s writing (and his thoughts on how an author who writes one novel a year might just be writing that novel in a single month)

As a postscript to the interview, Mark then calls out some of the key points that Hugh made during the conversation; in particular Hugh's take on marketing and how writing your next book or focusing on sharing information ABOUT writing it is far better than trying to push your book in front of everybody's face.


Episode 013 of the KWL Podcast (with Hugh Howey)

Direct download: KWL_EP019_HughHowey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13am PDT