Kobo Writing Life Podcast

Executive Vice President of Publisher Relations and Content at Kobo, Pieter Swinkels introduces a live on stage at Kobo “Kobo in Conversation” interview of Robert Harris about his latest book, Conclave. (As an interesting aside, Pieter was, at one time, Robert’s publisher in the Netherlands). Robert is interviewed by Toronto pop culture columnist, film journalist and television personality, Johanna Schneller.

In the interview Johanna and Robert discuss:

  • Brexit and how, though the public events surrounding Brexit are possible fodder for a forthcoming Robert Harris novel, he prefers to wait perhaps 10 or 20 years after such an event, because after such time, you can more properly see the patterns a lot more easily when you’re not as involved in them
  • The research involved in writing about a papal conclave, the oldest, most secretive election in the world, starting with the request for permission to see the places that aren’t normally open to the public
  • The overwhelming majesty of the setting of the Sistine Chapel and the Apostolic Palace
  • The bunker-like setting that the cardinals are sequestered in and the similarities to an Agatha Christie cottage mystery setting
  • The enormous power of the internet when it comes to researching a book such as this one, and how the entire process of gathering that research being hugely sped up
  • The writing routine that Robert Harris employs, starting with research
  • How this particular novel was written between January and July of this past year
  • Harris’s daily writing routine of starting sometime around 7 or 8 AM and then finishing at about half past noon, and his belief that one can do only about four hours or so of hard creative work
  • A reference to the Stephen King quote about the “boys in the basement” who are hard at work for a writer when the writer is not sitting at their writing desk
  • Harris’s strong belief in deadlines and how the fear and adrenaline helps him produce
  • A look into one of Harris’s earliest books, the non-fiction title Selling Hitler, an investigation of the “Hitler Diaries” scandal, which was published in 1986, and how it led to the author’s evolution into writing novels


Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre then talks about something Robert Harris mentioned in the interview – the concept of the deadline and how he saw that fear and adrenaline as important elements in the creative process for him as a writer. Lefebvre talks about his own experience writing to deadline on his own non-fiction works and then considers the concept of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and that 30 day deadline to write a prescribed number of words (50,000). He talks about the critical nature of that imposed “deadline” and how it can help a writer actually sit down and get words written.



Robert Harris's website

Johanna Schneller on Twitter

Robert's books on Kobo

Direct download: KWL_Podcast_071_RobertHarris.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:44pm PDT

In episode 70, Christine Munroe interviews bestselling romance author Melissa Foster. Over 7 years of self-publishing, Melissa has tons of insightful advice to offer, including why authors should stick to their passion instead of chasing trends, and why she will always manage her own social media and all public-facing marketing efforts. Tune in to hear them discuss:

  • Melissa published her first book in 2009. She’s now released over 50 English-language titles, including 15 last year, and 13 in 2016
  • She started by approaching agents, and could paper her walls with rejection letters
  • Her first published book was Megan’s Way, and she sold over 100k copies of it over the first year
  • Today she works with a literary agent for her work in translation. She submitted one book for traditional publishers recently, but decided to not make a deal because they couldn’t offer more than she could accomplish on her own. “I’m pretty much indie to stay now unless something fabulous comes up”
  • One major concern about using a traditional publisher is the high list price – she wants to keep her readers happy with a price they can afford. That’s more important to her than getting a traditional publisher. They also can’t keep up with her publishing schedule – the best publishers could offer is once every 4 months, which isn’t enough for all of her series she has going right now
  • She’s a “chat-a-holic” on social media and does all of her social media herself
  • EverAfter Romance is handling her paperback distribution for her into bookstores
  • She works with a developmental and copy editor, then a group of 5 copyeditors, to make sure every book is clean before it hits the market
  • Why and how she has incorporated LGBT romance into her Harborside Nights series. There’s a lesbian couple and a gay couple – it never occurred to her to separate out a couple because of their sexual preference. Some authors warned her that she might alienate her core audience but that hasn’t happened
  • “I would encourage any author who feels passionate about a story not to hold back on writing it simply because other people think it’s not a good idea…my thought going into this is that I trust my readers”
  • Best advice for launching a new book: 1) Be everywhere. 2) Advertise outside of the typical avenues for your genre – look to the subthemes of your book and get a wider audience
  • Think of branding in a broad way. For example, imagine your covers being identifiable by site on a shelf. Also, brand at a price bracket - don’t start by putting all of your books at $.99; brand at the price where you want to end up
  • What she wishes she would have done differently along the way – she handed off managing her social media to someone for a little while, but that did not go well. She gets significant value from connecting with them directly, herself
  • She also doesn’t advise trying to chase trends and figure out what made other people successful. Publishing changes so quickly that if you’re writing for a trend, it may have shifted by the time your book is ready to publish. Also, often marketing efforts are happening behind the scenes, and you can’t know from external research what went into making a book or author successful
  • “Every authorship is different…. You have to figure out your readership and how you fit with them”
  • It is absolutely essential to get your book edited – you are a representative of independently published authors and books. Don’t rush to publish; if you can’t afford a good editor, wait to publish until you can
  • Your best marketing plan is always writing your next book

Melissa Foster writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance and women's fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Readers adore Melissa's fun, flirty, and sinfully sexy, award-winning big family romance collection, LOVE IN BLOOM featuring the Snow Sisters, Bradens, Remingtons, Ryders, Seaside Summer, Harborside Nights, and the Wild Boys After Dark. Melissa's emotional journeys are lovingly erotic, perfect beach reads, and always family oriented.

Direct download: Melissa_Foster_episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am PDT