Kobo Writing Life Podcast (general)
KWL EP 038 - Angela Bole from IBPA

For this episode, we focus on small presses and the business side of publishing. US Manager Christine Munroe interviews Angela Bole, the Executive Director of IBPA (the Independent Book Publishers Association), about everything from distribution to metadata. As a bonus, we include excellent advice from Kobo's Canadian Merchandiser, Sarah Smith-Eivemark, who recently joined Kobo from a small press. She shares the most important advice she's learned from her unique perspective of this transition from small press to digital retailer. You don't want to miss it!

Tune in to hear about:

  • IBPA's history and mission. It was founded in 1983 – one of the oldest trade associations for publishing in America.
  • Most of its members have come in as self-publishers, even as early as 1983. Many of them learned the trade, then took on the work of others.
  • IBPA is a publishers’ association, not an authors’ association. They serve the publishing side of the business. IBPA won’t take a point of view on authorship, editorial, craft. Instead, it focuses on marketing, publishing standards, covers, etc.
  • Who should join? Those working independently – that is, outside of the Big 5. Small presses, university presses, even aspiring authors considering self-publishing. Anyone wanting to learn more about the market and business of self publishing.
  • It's $129/year to become a member. Benefits: receiving a monthly magazine and email newsletters, and IBPA acts as a bullhorn sharing good news and success stories of its members. Additionally, it’s a connection to the community going through the same process, helping each other succeed by sharing best practices, sharing warnings.
  • Publishing University is their annual conference, which has been happening for 27 years. In line with IBPA's mission, it focuses on publishing and marketing books. 30 expert speakers come, 300 attendees. 2016 will be in Salt Lake City for the first time.
  • Publishing University also offers an opportunity for feedback and workshopping on your content, cover, and more, adding an experiential element.
  • Best practices for getting a distributor: transition from pitching a book, to pitching your business. Publishers need a 6-month plan for your business and book, editorial calendar with more books in the pipeline, and marketing plan.
  • Why Angela keeps talking about metadata and its importance.

Find about more about IBPA at www.ibpa-online.org.

Direct download: angela_bole.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:32am PST

This week's podcast is essential listening for all authors: Victoria Strauss from Writer Beware is joining us to share her most important advice for how writers can avoid being scammed. Writer Beware was co-founded by Victoria and Ann Crispin in 1998, is sponsored by SFWA, and its mission is to "track, expose, and raise awareness of the prevalence of fraud and other questionable activities in and around the publishing industry." Listen in as Victoria speaks with US Manager Christine Munroe about:

  •  The origins of Writer Beware in 1998. SFWA put a call-out for someone to monitor scams aimed at authors, and Victoria and Ann Crispin joined forces.
  • At that time, literary agent scams were prevalent. Victoria says she rarely sees them nowadays - self-publishing has shown many authors that they don't need an agent to publish. Unfortunately, self-publishing has also created a new frontier in writing scams, from digital publishers charging exorbitant fees for their services to would-be experts offering services they're not capable of providing.
  • The craziest scheme she has heard of to date (you'll have to listen to find out!).
  • How she and a team of volunteers find the time to maintain the website and blog. Also, why their investigations need to be so detailed: Writer Beware is often the target of lawsuits by the scammers they work to expose.
  • How writers can avoid being scammed: DO YOUR RESEARCH and educate yourself. There's no such thing as a free lunch - if it sounds too good to be true, and you have a gut feeling that something is amiss, don't ignore those instincts.
  • The best way to get started as a new author. Start broadly by reading books about the industry at large and the various options available to you. What's important is that you set goals for your writing and find the path that best serves those goals. Then you can dive into the internet as a resource for learning more about each aspect of the process, and checking that each company you're considering working with is reputable.
  • Additional resources for researching scams include Preditors & Editors and Absolute Write.
  • Victoria's publishing plans for the next year, which includes traditional, hybrid, and self-publishing paths. Victoria believes (and we agree!) that authors don't need to choose just one path for publishing, and stick to that path forever. Often a combination of options is ideal.

Following this conversation, KWL Author Care Coordinator Vanessa Ghosh shares advice for taking advantage of our free preview function on Kobo. Customers can preview the first 5% of the beginning of your eBook, so many sure to give them a peek into your best work—and don't use a dummy file when you're setting up a pre-order, as previews for pre-orders are also visible to customers. If you have questions you'd like us to answer on the podcast, email writinglife@kobo.com

Direct download: Victoria_Strauss.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:38am PST

KWL Director Mark Lefebvre interviews Nancy L. Baumann about Bookarma, a platform that allows authors to leverage the community in their social media endeavors. In the interview Mark and Nancy discuss:

  • How Bookarma, an international marketing platform, allows you to break beyond your own personal marketing network and allows you to reach further
  • The user friendly manner of creating an account, adding social media and importing books simply by entering the ISBN
  • How Bookarma came out of Nancy's business as a non-fiction book coach as a way to help authors once their books were out in the market
  • The multiplier effect of authors supporting other authors by sharing one another's efforts in reaching people through social media
  • How the author queue works in terms of authors finding appropriate content to share with their followers
  • The importance of book covers and how a bad cover doesn't help a good book
  • The weekly webcasts that help authors with tips and suggestions on the best way to leverage Bookarma
  • The ability to filter your queue by genre as an author
  • The measurability that is built into the campaigns on Bookarma, such as the number of impressions and the number of clicks that another author made in the queue and then how many times the book was shared and the number of clickbacks that link received
  • How both traditionally published and self-published authors can use this tool

Mark then talks about the value of authors helping one another and how, as a bookseller for the past 20+ years he has paid attention to this in his own desire to help authors.

There is an ask for KWL listeners to email writinglife@kobo.com with any questions they might have that we can answer in future episodes as well as suggestions for guests and topics for future episodes. Please note that submitting a helpful question just might land you additional promotional placement at Kobo.

Direct download: KWL_EP036_NancyBaumann_Bookarma.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:33pm PST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 12:28pm PST

KWL EP 034 - Grant Faulkner from NaNoWriMo

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
Category:general -- posted at: 6:34am PST

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

Ingram Spark

Old Firehouse Books (local Fort Collins bookstore)

Direct download: KWL_EP033_NorthernColoradoWritersConference.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:35am PST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 7:45pm PST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 1:32pm PST

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


Other Links

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
Category:general -- posted at: 6:48pm PST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 8:36am PST