Kobo Writing Life Podcast

Julie Czerneda, an international bestselling science fiction and fantasy author from Canada, was one of the Author Guests of Honour at the 2016 When Words Collide conference which takes place in Calgary each year in late summer.  

When Words Collide is an annual non-profit festival designed to bring readers and writers together in a celebration of the written word. Up to 10 tracks of programming, beginning at 1 PM on Friday and running through 5 PM Sunday, offer informational, educational, and social activities covering a wide spectrum of literature including Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Historical, Literary, Script-writing, Poetry, Comics, and Non-fiction. Roughly 650 readers, writers, editors, publishers, agents, and artists attend with over 200 presenters.

Kobo Writing Life has been a proud sponsor of When Words Collide for the past several years and are delighted to present one of the inspiring keynote talks from 2016 by Julie Czerneda addressing the “Dreamers” who were there attending the conference.

Julie’s keynote talk at When Words Collide addresses the world of dreamers and dream-weavers who are completely at home when at a book-related conference and how putting readers and writers together matters. That the things they revel in matters.

Julie Czerneda has written more than 20 books in multiple series, including The Trade Pact Universe, The Clan Chronicles, The Web Shifters Series,  Night’s Edge,  Stratification and The Reunification Series, with THE GATE TO FUTURE’S PAST (Book 2 in the series) being her most recent novel. (Look for Book 3, TO GUARD AGAINST THE DARK in the fall of 2017)

After the keynote talk by Julie, Mark talks to Julia Nethersole who oversees the Author Support Community at Kobo about some of the most common questions that authors write in to writinglife@kobo.com as well as some insights about better self-service tools and an author community forum that has recently been created to help authors help themselves as well as another way to connect with others from the community.

Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_079_JulieCzerneda_OnDreamers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:32pm PDT

Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo Writing Life, interviews Young Adult Fantasy and Chicklit author, Katie Cross as she shares strategies about how she was able to keep writing, with even more productivity, in her transition from full time author to full time Mom.

In the chat, Katie and Mark discuss:

  • Her lifelong passion of writing and her recent passion of becoming a mother (which happened about a year and a half into her 3 years of publishing career) and how she juggles both with her 18 month old.
  • Some of the time-scheduling strategies she uses, which changes every month with such a young child. (For example, right now, she writes for a couple of hours during the day during nap time as well as after bed-time)
  • The concept of a Mom-swap with a few neighborhood friends. On a schedule with two other stay-at-home Moms who need time for personal errands/etc they rotate on particular days of the week where all the children are at a particular mother’s house for about a three hour period. This provides Katie with about 3 additional hours to write twice per week
  • Strategies in early childhood, actually holding her baby while he slept and managing to quietly tap away at the keyboard
  • Other strategies used, (involving intense multi-tasking) walking the dogs while having her baby strapped onto her and dictating story ideas into her phone. (Exercise, fresh air, getting the dogs and baby for an outing AND getting some writing work done)
  • How, being a Military Wife, she is able to arrange to travel to valuable writing and networking workshops like Superstars Writing Seminars
  • How having limited time has made her a much more productive writer
  • The way that hiring a virtual assistant has helped her maximize her writing time (Her assistant, Christina’s website is www.faithfullysocial.com
  • Katie’s initial struggle to grow sales and readers at Kobo and how, over time (about a year and a half), her sales began a slow and steady build (she has been seeing growth mostly at Kobo, iBooks and Scribd since going wide)
  • How, once she finished a young adult series (4 books plus a prequel and a novella) and created a bundle, the series seemed to have taken off
  • The comparison of being a new parent to being an indie author
  • The blog that Katie has which is meant specifically for author parents (IE: “I get it, I’m in the trenches with you”) kcrosswriting.com

After the interview, Mark reflects on the manner by which Katie has made writing a priority and how other writers who struggle with balancing multiple priorities might be inspired by her as well as a reflective writing quote that has been with him for more than 20 years.

Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_078_KatieCross.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:08am PDT

From his role as a guest faculty member at Superstars Writing Seminars, Kobo Writing Life director Mark Lefebvre interviewed professional photographer Lauren Lang who was on site to help attending authors get a professional author photo. In the interview Mark and Lauren discuss:

  • Lauren’s start in the industry in journalism and her desire to use a visual medium as her preferred method of telling and sharing stories
  • The desire of capturing a moment in photography and causing an emotional reaction in the viewer/audience
  • Some of the differences between “posed” and more “candid” photography and Lauren’s desire to love people in the midst of emotion, catching them emoting and enjoying themselves in the moment
  • The methods that Lauren uses turning the “inherently unnatural” environment of posed photography into something where the subject doesn’t feel so uncomfortable or self-conscious
  • The importance of being real when Lauren is trying to draw the author and their story out as part of the photo shoot
  • Some of the tricks that an author might use when preparing for a professional photo shoot, including moving beyond the “getting an author head shot is something I have to do” to thinking about this as being something for their fans (even if they’re a beginning author and don’t yet have a fan base)
  • A look at some of the “do not do’s” and “mis-steps” that people make when trying to select a good head-shot, including using a photo that actually looks like you (rather than the way you looked a few decades earlier)
  • What an author should look for when finding a photographer to hire/work with
  • A look at expression in photography from a study from Photofeeler.com

Mark then reflects on the author photo, a projected image, authenticity and how that might all role into a larger picture of author brand.

Links of interest:

Jacobin Photography Website

Jacobin Photography on Facebook

Lauren Lang on Instagram

Lauren Lang on Twitter

Photofeeler.com Blog

Superstars Writing Seminars


Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_077_LaurenLang.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm PDT

On site at Superstars Writing Seminars, Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre interviews Joshua Essoe, freelance editor. In their discussion Mark and Joshua discuss:

  • What led him to writing (the author’s notes at the end of a Piers Anthony novel he had picked up at an early age) and then, more specifically, what led him into editing
  • The role that Brandon Sanderson played, at the very first Superstars Writing Seminars in Pasadena, in launching Joshua onto the patch towards editing
  • The editing pitch that Joshua did to David Farland, which led to Joshua editing his Award-Winning Novel Nightingale
  • The struggle that Joshua deals with in making the time to write while having such a heavy editing workload
  • The benefit of consultation calls between a writer and an editor when the writer is at the early stages of working on their novel
  • The types of works that Joshua mostly works on, including the types of manuscripts he would like to see more of (horror)
  • The process of finding an editor who is a good fit for a particular writer
  • A look at the different types of edits that an editor can do, or that different editors specialize in
  • The benefit to a freelance editor of working with repeat clients
  • The most common errors that Joshua has seen that writers make (and where a good editor can help them)
  • Reflections on the difference between American English and British English
  • Some of Joshua’s forthcoming projects including an anthology Joshua is co-creating with James A. Owen entitled Magic Makers (including stories by Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony, Peter Beagle)

After the interview, Mark shares some thoughts on how an element such as a post-text authors note can serve an important part in helping a reader feel more connected with a writer.

Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_076_JoshuaEssoe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:13pm PDT

Instead of the regular interview with an author or industry person, episode 75 of the podcast features Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre pausing to look at some of the most successful Kobo Writing Life authors on Kobo for 2016.

He compiles a list of the top 5 things that the most successful authors in terms of both unit sales and net sales all have in common, and tries to break them down into things that you as an author might consider in your own business plans for success.

The items are:

1) Genres / Genre Fiction - the top authors are all writing books in genre fiction, with Romance and Mystery/Thriller/Suspense being consistently in the top

2) Series - many of the top titles are either books written in a series, or, if not, involve an aggressive production schedule far quicker than traditional publishing schedules

3) Targeted and Appealing Visuals / Covers - the covers for the books aren't just professional and attractive, but they're attractive to the right audience, to a very targeted audience or demographic that drills down, even into the sub-genres within a category

4) Author Branding / Series Branding - directly in line with the visuals, the author brand on a book makes a particular promise to a particular type of reader based on the way it is presented.

5) Inclusive Publishing/Promoting / Going Wide - obviously, the authors who were most successful at Kobo published to Kobo. Seems obvious, but drilling down into some of the more subtle ways not just to "go wide" but to "be wide"


Lefebvre then wraps up by taking about, particularly to insiders at Kobo, the important different between Unit Sales and Net Sales and why booksellers like Kobo might have a preferential lean towards one over the other.

Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_075_Top5ThingsSuccessfulAuthorsHaveinCommon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:57am PDT

Mark Lefebvre, Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations for Kobo is the host for this episode, and introduces a memorable clip from Episode 279 of The Creative Penn Podcast where Joanna Penn talks compares walking the 100KM "Race to the Stones" with writing.

In her talk, Joanna goes into the details regarding 9 Lessons Learned About Writing from Walking 100K in a Weekend:

  • Deadlines and specific goals help you achieve more
  • It’s good to have a goal, but training (and the journey) is the point
  • Stamina builds up over time with practice
  • You need a support team, but nobody can do the steps for you
  • There are fun parts, but some of it will be hell
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. The race is only with yourself
  • Follow the path others have set before you
  • It’s worth spending money to get the right gear
  • A lot of people give up along the way – persistence is the key to success

Mark then talks a bit about the beginning and end of the year as common goal-setting times for writers, and shares 5 of the bigger writing goals he had set for himself in 2016. He goes into detail, explaining the highs of meeting deadlines and goals, and the struggles with not achieving a goal (including his own 10 year struggle with getting his novel A Canadian Werewolf in New York published - he started working on it on a series from The Writing Show Podcast back in 2006) - something likely every writer faces.


Links of Interest from this episode

The Creative Penn Podcast

Episode 279 of The Creative Penn Podcast with Roz Morris

Joanna Penn's books on Kobo (About Writing)

Joanna's J.F. Penn novels on Kobo

KWL Episode 32 - Interview with Dan Rubinstein

The "Getting Published with Mark Leslie" episodes of The Writing Show

Mark's A Canadian Werewolf in New York on Kobo


Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_074_WalkingTheWritersLifewithJoannaPenn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:29pm PDT