by Christine Munroe (@munroechristine)
Many authors have been asking me about distribution for their ebooks, and how to reach more markets. Luckily, while I was at the recent IBPA Publishing University in Salt Lake City, I had the chance to meet Christine Munroe, the U.S. manager for Kobo. (Kobo is a Canadian company which sells e-books and e-readers. The name Kobo is an anagram of book.) I asked Christine to tell us how Kobo empowers indie authors to sell their books globally. Here’s her response.
Why should self-published authors and small publishers distribute directly to Kobo? And how can you grow your global sales? Here are detailed tips on maximizing your potential with the Kobo Writing Life (KWL) platform, featuring advice from some of our current bestselling authors.
What is Kobo Writing Life?
KWL is a free self-publishing platform that helps authors publish their eBooks to Kobo customers in over 190 countries. Our royalty structure is 70% for books priced $2.99 USD and higher (no price cap), and 45% for books under $2.99. You can price your books free anytime. It’s a simple four-step process to upload your eBook, then you can track global sales live in the dashboard and get paid in the currency of your choice. Some other features include the ability to set up pre-orders and a price scheduling tool that helps you set a promo price in advance.
We’re part of Rakuten Kobo Inc., a Toronto-based, Japanese-owned company dedicated completely to eReading. Unlike other retailers, Kobo doesn’t sell other products; we focus on helping readers discover the best eBooks from our library of 5 million titles, and read on one of our dedicated Kobo eReaders or on any device with the free Kobo app.
What Our Merchandisers Look For
You absolutely must hire a professional editor and cover designer in order to stand out among the 5 million+ eBooks available on Kobo. Think about the cover’s thumbnail version – can you still read the title and author name? Keep the font large and other elements simple.
Enter accurate and consistent information in each field when you upload your books. Use the exact same “Series Name” and correct series number to help our system drive sales across your series (if you don’t, we can’t automatically link them on kobo.com). Pick accurate and specific categories for your eBook to achieve a high ranking – we let you choose three per book. For example, opt for “Mystery & Suspense, Thrillers” instead of the broad “Fiction & Literature”. Ask your editor to review your synopsis; this all-important content needs to be catchy and error-free.
Use metadata fields like “Series Name” and “Volume Number” accurately to improve your searchability on kobo.com
A decent price
As a broad benchmark, the majority of our successful indie authors price full-length novels between $3.99-$5.99 USD. Experimenting with a higher price point opens up discounting opportunities for appealing temporary price drops. Since Kobo is so globally focused, you should take advantage of our manual price conversion tool for all of your eBooks, instead of relying on an automatic price conversion (find this in Step 4 of the dashboard – “Set the Price”). Some specific advice: round to the nearest .99 for all English-language countries; to the nearest .49 or .99 for GBP or Euros. For example, it looks very awkward and unprofessional for a customer in Canada, Kobo’s home turf and our largest market, to see a book at the auto-converted price of $5.06 CAD, instead of $4.99. You can also price differently for each market; Canada and Australia, for example, are not as price-sensitive as the US and the UK, so you can try higher or lower prices per country to find your sweet spot.