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Kobo Writing Life Podcast

The Kobo Writing Life Podcast brings you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We feature interviews with bestselling authors and industry experts, who share practical advice you can use to improve your writing and sell more books. Hosted by the Kobo Writing Life team, you'll also get the latest news and updates about Kobo and the KWL platform. Self-publish today at

Oct 10, 2016

In Episode 68, we check in with Ethan Jones, a spy thriller author who decided to go wide with his novels and focus on growing his Kobo sales. His 2015 sales were up 260% over 2014, and every month has broken his sales record from the preceding month. Kobo is now Ethan's leading retailer, bringing him healthy four figures each month and rising. How did he accomplish this? What advice does he have for authors considering publishing to KWL, or just starting out? Tune in to find out!

  • Ethan has three spy thriller series currently on the go
  • His inspirations: Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, Baldacci, Tom Clancy, Bourne series
  • He feels it’s important to not only know the market, but to know the basic story lines of major authors in his genre and not repeat them; “Readers are more likely to believe that Ethan Jones copied Brad Thor than the reverse.”
  • Why he switched from exclusive with another retailer to wide distribution. Since then, his Kobo sales have grown in a big way. He saw a 260% increase in sales for 2015 over 2014. Every month is higher and higher, now bringing in healthy four figures per month, more than all other retailers combined. It took perseverance in terms of both time and effort
  • When you upload to Kobo, give the books time. Inform your readers that they are available in that channel. Think of your career as a marathon – you are laying the groundwork to establish a readership globally, across multiple retail channels
  • Sold books in 30 countries so far through Kobo, including Fiji and Turks and Caicos
  • Ethan still works a full-time job, and does his writing during his commute and lunch break. He catches up on email and marketing on the weekend
  • Connects with the writing community through online forums, cross-promotions, and attending conferences
  • On Mailing Lists: he manages two lists. 1) 2 emails a month, goes to everyone who has expressed interest in him and his books. Brief update, new releases, any deals, offers that include cross-promoting 2-3 other authors.  2) ARC readers, 1 email a month about review copies and a reminder about posting reviews
  • Releases a new book every 3-4 months
  • Average cost of producing each book: $200-$300 per book for editing/proofreading. $200 for a cover. Under $500 per book total
  • Beyond BookBub, his promotional strategies include: tell readers about all new books, price pre-order lower than launch price. Send occasional flash sales to his mailing lists. Hit some of the smaller promotional website opportunities beyond BookBub
  • Something his readers might not know about him: English isn’t his first language (it’s Albanian), and Ethan Jones is a pen name
  • A few overall words of wisdom:
  1. Start right away with building a mailing list. Invite anyone and everyone you know – it might surprise you to learn who is interested in your writing.
  2. Distribute widely; think about your career as a long-term gig, and give yourself 18 months to work on promoting new channels.


Author Ethan Jones on Facebook

AuthorEJones on Twitter

Ethan Jones is the author of the wildly popular Justin Hall spy thriller series, featuring Canadian Intelligence Service special agents operating mostly in the Middle East. This series has nine books so far. The first four books in this series have reached the Amazon’s Top 10 Best Sellers lists. Ethan has also started a new spy series: Carrie Chronicles, which features Justin Hall’s partner, Carrie O’Connor, in solo adventures. The first two novels in this series, Priority Target and Codename: Makarov have already come out and more are expected to be released in 2017.

He is also working on a romantic suspense series, featuring Jennifer Morgan, set in New York. The first book in this series, The Secret Affair, is already out and the second and the third will be published in fall and winter 2016. Ethan is a lawyer by trade, and he lives in Edmonton, Canada, with his wife and son.