Indies for Indies: My Partnership with My Local Bookstore

By Robert L. Slater

Bellingham, Washington, has as many bookstores as many small towns have churches and bars. You can literally have a top ten… I frequent many of them, but the one I know best has become a great friend—Village Books. VB did a lot for me as a reader and community member. I saw Terry Brooks, Neal Stephenson, and many more folks at VB events.

As a customer in their original location, an old building in underdeveloped Fairhaven, I joined their Reader Rewards Club.  Every year on your birthday month, club members receive a coupon for a discounted book, your age up to 39 as a percentage discount, and a cup of coffee. Eventually the costs of maintaining an awesome local brick and mortar bookstore took their toll and everyone got 25% off no matter what their age. In addition, at 20 purchases customers get a cash voucher for the average price of those books. I’m a cheap and careful shopper, so mine was never big, but always more exciting than the free haircut or coffee punch card.

Village Books offers customers a savvy reminder they have access to Kobo’s giant catalog of eBooks.

Village Books offers customers a savvy reminder that they can access Kobo’s giant catalog of eBooks. Learn more here!

Over the last year VB became more of a place to go see ‘friends.’ The past year has been a series of synchronicitous events in my writing. I wrote my third novel for NANOWRIMO 2012. Soon after I opened an email from Village Books announcing a Speculative Fiction Writer’s Group. I went and met Paul Hansen, their General Manager. He read from his own work in progress. Two weeks later, I returned and soon volunteered to manage the group mailing list and reminders.  I met other local writers, now  friends, whom I hope to see in print someday.

Then I was chosen with five other writers to write a Speculative Fiction Serial Story for the local newspaper, The Bellingham Herald, set in Bellingham 100 years in the future. One of the first questions from editor, Dean Kahn, was, “Do you want to read at Village Books?” I wholeheartedly agreed. My theatre background would come in handy. When Dean had to opt out, I stepped in to be master of ceremonies.

The evening came. I dressed for success, imagining what a professional writer might wear and say and do. We went from empty to a crowd in minutes. Sam Kaas, another fabulous VB employee, introduced us and we were off. The evening went well. I handed out postcard promos for my collection: Outward Bound, (already on Kobo) and for my soon to be released debut: All Is Silence. New folks signed up for my mailing list. I thanked Sam. He asked for some cards and asked if I would like to be featured in an eBook newsletter as a local author using Kobo. Of course, I said yes.

All Is Silence by Robert L. Slater

All Is Silence by Robert L. Slater

As a local teacher at Windward High School, I partnered with Village Books in printing WHS’ first annual book of poetry, art and fiction, Whispers in the Wind, using their Espresso Book Machine [EBM]. When it came time to talk about publishing my own book I knew I wanted to partner locally if I could. My initial plan was to have Village Books print my Advanced Reader Copies [ARCs] using the EBM, but unfortunately, the EBM had become unavailable. Brendan Clark, the ever-helpful arm of Village Books’ publishing forays, told me cryptically that I should wait and see what else was in the works.

I had done my homework. I had a plan. VB would print ARCs, then pro-printing with Lightning Source. When I sat down with Brendan and talked about my vision, it turned out what was in the works was a VB partnership with Lightning Source to print books. Turnaround time was longer, but the book cost was better for short runs. Best of all, Brendan Clark would be my go between with Lightning Source.  When I printed 500 copies, the books would be more expensive than going with Lightning Source direct, but only by about 8%. That trade off was perfect. I could partner with Village Books, get the quality I wanted without LS’ legendary lack of author-friendly support. That 8% into my local community and the extra help made it an absolute win-win.

When I got the call from Village Books that my ARCs had arrived, VB personnel and patrons ooed and ahhed as I grinned like a monkey and set my book on the shelf to see what it would look like. The cover wasn’t quite popping so Brendan changed to high gloss for the second set of ARCs. When they came in, the cover popped!

Author Robert Slater promotes All Is Silence at the KWL-sponsored Village Books event in January 2014.

Author Robert L. Slater promotes All Is Silence at a KWL-sponsored Village Books event in January 2014.

I worked on getting final edits in and my cover artist made adjustments. My goal was to have people’s jaws drop when I told them it was self-published. After sending off the ‘final’ edits, I settled into all the other prep work for releasing a book. Then I got an email from Sam. Would I be interested in doing an ePublishing workshop with Kobo? Sure. I had been trying to get All Is Silence uploaded as an ePub to Kobo, and was having issues—too much specialized formatting. So Sam connected me to Mark Lefebvre at Kobo, the main speaker at the workshop. Mark helped me through the process, even purchasing a copy for himself after getting hooked!  The workshop with Mark was great, Paul and Brendan and Sam were great. We had a great crowd and lots of questions.

Mark helped me set up a special pricing deal on a card for the eBook leading up to release of my print book and connect readers to VB eBook opportunities. We gave it out to workshop attendees, Mark took some on the road with him and Sam kept some at VB. Soon, I hit #7 on Kobo’s Young Adult Dystopian Fiction Bestsellers and, for a very short time, #3 behind Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Insurgent on the Young Adult Science Fiction list. [I have the picture to capture the moment.]

My partnership with VB led to many unforeseen benefits. Rumor had it that one major retailer would not allow pre-orders on self-published books. The only way around it was to create a seller’s account and cough up $30 for set up. Because I partnered with VB, and through them Lightning Source and Ingram’s, my book was up for presale internationally on that major retailer for no extra charge. It also got me into the local library system early. I have more books being requested than they have in stock. It’s a great start.

KWL Director Mark Lefebvre presents a workshop on digital publishing alongside Rob Slater at Village Books.

KWL Director Mark Lefebvre presents a workshop on digital publishing alongside Rob Slater at Village Books.

Now my book is in Village Books. They’ll be hosting a novel release party with me on March 14th and after that… who knows. What did I do to get so lucky? When I picked up the first batch of my print books, Paul Hanson told me, “When you first came in you said, ‘What can I do to help?’”

So, writers, ask not what your bookstore can do for you [the answer is plenty], but ask what you can do for your bookstore. Be professional. Communicate warmly, openly and politely. Get off the broken record of “buy my book, buy my book,” and make friends, find partners, and buy books at your local brick and mortar bookstore.

Visit Robert’s website.

All Is Silence on Kobo.

Outward Bound on Kobo.

Learn more about Kobo’s partnership with indie bookstores here and here.

Kate Perry’s Favorite Heroes, in Every Flavor!

By Kate Perry

I love February. A month dedicated to hearts and chocolate and love? Sign me up!

It may be cold outside, but the perfect hero will keep you warm. They’re like cupcakes–some dark, some sweet, all delicious. And just because you like one flavor, doesn’t mean you can’t flirt with others. Wink.

My favorite hero of all time is my Magic Man, but I have a confession to make: sometimes I like to curl up in front of the fireplace with these fantasy men, too. Maybe you’ll be enticed by one or two as well…

For those of you who like men with accents and old-school sensibilities, there’s Ferguson, a disgraced duke with a dark reputation:

Heiress Without a Cause

Heiress Without a Cause

By Sara Ramsey

Because you can’t help yourself around an immortal who owns the night, try the passionate, troubled Samson:

Samson's Lovely Mortal (Scanguards Vampires #1)Samson’s Lovely Mortal

By Tina Folsom

If you like your hero shaken, not stirred, you’ll love Paul, the sexy bartender with a sinful smile:

License to DateLicense to Date

By Susan Hatler

International men of mystery are hot, like Jack who is anything but what he seems to be:

The Housewife Assassin's Relationship Survival GuideThe Housewife Assassin’s Relationship Survival Guide

By Josie Brown

And so are tall, silent, deadly men like sexy murder mentor, Patrick Mulligan:

The Hitwoman and The Family JewelsThe Hitwoman and the Family Jewels

By JB Lynn

And for those of you who can’t resist Southern charm and a cowboy hat, there’s wheelin’ and dealin’ Jackson Waite:

Lost in LoveLost in Love

By Kate Perry

Whoever you spend your nights with, I hope you’re warm and happy and loved.

xoxo ~

Kate

KatePerry_1Kate Perry is the international bestselling author of the Laurel Heights Novels and the Summerhill series. By day, she writes about all sorts of things, like cupcakes and women who kick ass. She writes about love, too, because love is the most important thing in the world.

www.kateperry.com

www.facebook.com/tutuKate

www.twitter.com/KatePerry

Event: Discounted tickets to London Author Fair (UK)

LAF Banner Ad

Kobo Writing Life is delighted to be a Founding Collaborator of The London Author Fair (February 28th). And we have 100 discounted tickets for you.

Our friends at Authoright want you to join us for an exhilarating day of engaging seminars, intimate workshops, networking, crowdsourcing and literary agent pitching events.

The London Author Fair is the first ever cutting-edge publishing event designed exclusively to help new and unpublished authors in the digital age.

£20 off LAF2To get your ticket go online to londonauthorfair.com and enter the discount code LAFKobo. Act now – there are only 100 discounted tickets available.

We will see you there!

Writers Unite!

From the Kobo Writing Life team

KWL holidays

Just a quick note to wish each and every one of you a great holiday season — stay warm and cozy and safe, take care of each other and of yourselves, and keep writing!

Here are some book recommendations from the Kobo team to help you wile away the dark winter months:

KWL Holiday server schedule

As many of you will remember from last year, regular content loading and processing services will be adjusted during the holiday season. This means that normal content processing will be unavailable between December 18, 2013 and January 3, 2014.

But don’t worry! With our new price scheduler and the ability to set a release date in the future, you can still hold a Boxing Day sale or release a new title on Christmas Day – you just need to make sure you upload the finished files to us by midnight on December 18th, and that all your price scheduling has been entered before then, too.

We will honour all publication dates and price schedules that fall between December 18th and January 3rd so long as you advise us in advance. We just won’t be able to accept new content or new price changes between those two dates.

We are all looking forward to a fantastic holiday season and as always we appreciate your ongoing support and patience. If you have any questions, you can always reach us at writinglife@kobo.com.

KWL Dashboard update issue: sales numbers may be larger than they appear

Objects in mirror may be larger than they appear

Objects in mirror may be larger than they appear

NOTE: As of December 11 2013, this issue has been fixed. You may temporarily experience some further glitches on your Dashboard as we roll out the fix. Thank you for your patience.

Some KWL authors may have experienced a glitch in the KWL Dashboard reporting lately: their sales numbers may be lower than they should be. This is a known issue, and will be fixed within the next week or two.

Kobo.com updated its software and, among other updates, now stores sales information in a new location. The KWL Dashboard, however, is still looking at the original location, and thus some authors are only seeing a small portion of their actual sales from the past 30 days or so reflected on their Dashboard.

basic screen shot

Rest assured, however, that the personal KWL Dashboard is the only place where this discrepancy is found. Behind the scenes, our Finance and Reporting departments know all the correct information, and the reports and payments you receive from Kobo’s finance teams are correct and up-to-date.

The solution to ensure all sales are reflected in the dashboard is currently being tested, and will be implemented within the next week or so. Your KWL Dashboard reports will soon reflect your accurate sales numbers once again.

Thanks for your patience, and keep writing!

A weekend with writers at Novelists Inc.

By Christine Munroe, US KWL Manager

I recently spent a weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with Mark Lefebvre (KWL Director). We weren’t there for a beach vacation – and anyways, there was a cold snap, not ideal for sunbathing! – we wanted to meet the wonderful members of Novelists Inc., aka Ninc.

The conference was an intense three days of presentations, panels, banquet meals, and more. Some highlights included:

  • An entertaining morning of “Ninc Talks” during which speakers presented quick, personal stories in the style of TED Talks
  • Mark’s presentation about how to succeed on Kobo
  • Embracing our inner book nerds as we met some of our favorite authors, including the Summit Authors, the Jewels of Historical Romance, Carrie Ryan, and many, many more
  • Speaking with attendees about their success using KWL and what we can do to improve the platform in the future
Mark and Christine on thrones surrounded by lovely Jewels! Find their eBooks on Kobo.

Mark and Christine on thrones surrounded by lovely Jewels! Find their eBooks on Kobo.

Christine goes into superfan mode with bestselling YA author Carrie Ryan. Check out her latest title here.

Christine goes into superfan mode with bestselling YA author Carrie Ryan. Check out her latest title here.

Ninc is unique because all members must have published at least two novels in order to apply (see here for full details), so the level of professionalism and knowledge of the industry was remarkable. Many Ninc members are hybrid authors, taking advantage of both traditional and indie publishing opportunities.

We loved having quality time to hear from authors about what is working, the latest developments in the indie market (like this cool tool, BookTrakr), and how self-publishing has helped them to grow their careers. Many authors mentioned they were recently able to quit their jobs to write full time because of their new income from indie publishing. So incredible and inspiring!

Next year’s conference will be October 22–26 in St. Pete Beach, Florida—we hope to see you there.

Confession: We did manage sneak in a little beach time… can you blame us? It was beautiful!

Confession: We did manage sneak in a little beach time… can you blame us? It was beautiful!

NaNoWriMo: day 1

sebastien bago

Sebastien is wondering what you’re doing, because it doesn’t look like writing to him. GO WRITE!

It’s November! Time to panic!  The KoboWriMo team is geared up and ready to go, and we want to bring you with us. Keep an eye on this blog for our updates, word counts, advice, troubles, and victories both big and small.

We’ve added a last-minute member to our team: Sebastien Bago, Kobo’s Merchandiser for France, based in Paris. He’ll be continuing his 7 Shades of Zombie series and joining us in making the Kobo NaNoWriMo Team a wild success (no pressure, Seb!).

Promoting with Pinterest

By Chele Cooke

Dead+and+BurydFor agents and publishers, a lot of time is spent looking for the next big trend. One year it’s Wizards, the next Vampires, and after that it’s a Vampire turned to sexual domination. Being on the crest of the new wave is where the money is.

For independent authors, finding the crest of a trend has become less about genre, and more about where you’re promoting it.

An author promoting their book on MySpace, for example, has not only missed the crest of the wave, they’re doggy paddling in still waters. Facebook and Twitter are awash with people promoting their books, and Tumblr is a fandom nut that, as a new author, can be difficult to crack.

When I began researching marketing techniques for my soon to be self-published book, I found a number of articles mentioning Pinterest. However, most of these looked more into ‘How to link your Pinterest to Amazon’ and ‘Make sure you complete the description on your profile.’ Not exactly what I was looking for. I was looking for a way to connect with readers and make them interested in my book. I already have a blog, Facebook, and Twitter, but as those rely on writing, I didn’t have anything that focused on the visual elements of fiction, so I took to Pinterest.

Browsing for ideas, I came across a number of authors using Pinterest to promote their writing, but more often than not, I came to find a collection of inspiration images and quotes on writing. They’re certainly interesting and nice to look at, but it doesn’t really give me an insight into the book itself. We’re told to make ourselves into a brand, but we are a brand that sells books. Would you rather a chocolate company gave you pictures of quotes about sweets, or spoilers on what flavour they are coming out with next?

So, with this in mind, I decided on a slightly different approach.

My main question before adding a pin is: “If I were a reader, would this give me an insight into the book?” When marketing a book, authors are constantly told to be interesting, not to just scream ‘buy my book’ into a vacuum. So, when I created the board for my upcoming book, Dead and Buryd, I left the inspiration and writing tribulations behind, focusing instead on actual elements of the book for readers to connect with.

I am thrilled when books I enjoy are made into movies as it gives me a chance to see the objects and characters I’ve been imagining. Now, with a little Google searching, I can create that same thrill for readers by supplying pictures of the elements I, as the author, have imagined.

Locating images that capture aspects of a Sci-Fi world can be difficult, and often not entirely accurate. However, if you’re willing to search, you can find pictures that are close enough to only need a small leap of imagination.

Images can be found everywhere, whether you’re using Pinterest’s search function, Google, Tumblr, Facebook, or some other website. Pinterest also accepts video links, so I’ve made a ‘Dead and Buryd Playlist. I’ve also started making my own pins by creating digital images with quotes from the book. I’ve even drawn a few items.

When linking one of these drawings over to my Facebook page, a friend asked: “I wonder if people will end up getting tattoos of those marks?” It’s thrilling and slightly scary to think about, but people do get tattoos based on books, comics, movies, and TV that they love. Search ‘Fandom Tattoos’ on Google and you’ll see a deluge of images proving just that. Fan-Art and Fan-Fiction are so popular that Amazon now sells it. Many readers love immersing themselves into a story in every way, and giving them a visual link straight into an author’s head can immediately connect with a reader.

With so much technology out there, connecting with new readers has become easier and more difficult than ever in equal measures. The technology is available to find readers all over the world who will love your books. However, tens of thousands of authors are already using these platforms, so it can be difficult to be heard about the crowd. You need a billboard, or ten… and Pinterest can be the perfect place to put them.

Check out Dead and Buryd on Pinterest!

*****************************

About the Author

Chele3Chele Cooke is the debut author of Dead and Buryd, a sci-fi thriller, and several short stories. She lives and works in the UK, although her heart at least partly belongs in San Francisco. She is also an avid cross-stitcher, music-lover, and traveler.

 

 

Chele Cooke’s website

Chele Cooke on Twitter  

Chele’s Facebook Page

Dead & Buryd on Kobo

 

KWL’s Mark Lefebvre on the Self Publishing Podcast

selfpubpodcastTune in to (or watch the video version of) Dave, Sean and Johnny’s Self Publishing Podcast as they talk with our own KWL Director Mark Lefebvre on a variety of relevant topics, including (but not limited to):

  • What’s the best way to get traction on Kobo?
  • Why is “first book free” an excellent strategy?
  • How should you price your books?
  • What advantages do series books over single books?
  • Where did Goodreads reviews (and other reviews) go on Kobo, and are they coming back?
  • What’s the best way to use pre-orders on Kobo?

Be sure to listen to next week’s episode to find out how YOU can enter to win a Kobo Aura!

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