Frankfurt LogoThe Frankfurt Book Fair is the biggest of its kind in the world. Authors, agents, publishers, and industry professionals from all over the globe come together in Germany for talks, workshops, networking, and the celebration of books.

Camille Mofidi, European Manager for Kobo Writing Life, spent time at the Kobo booth chairing talks with bestselling authors, meeting with aspiring writers or confirmed hybrid authors, and many more events.

Here’s an overview of the busy days in Frankfurt:

Self-Publishing in Germany: How To Get Started?

Two of the most famous self-published authors in Germany, Emily Bold and Nika Lubitsch, shared views about the German market for independent authors:

  • Digital publishing and self-publishing have grown a lot recently in Germany, but it might paradoxically be harder to start today as an indie writer than it was when both Emily and Nika started, because there is more competition.
  • Emily Bold started by self-publishing whereas Nika has worked with publishers before, mainly for nonfiction books. When she wrote a mystery novel, though, no publisher wanted to publish it, so she decided to go into self-publishing. “Der 7. Tag” became a huge success and hit the bestsellers’ list. Nika has then been approached by foreign publishers for translation rights on her novel.
  • Both Emily and Nika started with the German market, but they also look into foreign countries and languages, especially English-language territories. Most of their books are available in English as well as German.
  • Both of them stress the importance of being professional when you go indie: a good text, well edited, with a great cover and promotion. They advise beginning writers to do their research before self-publishing: they need to know the basics of digital publishing and self-publishing.
  • They are very connected with other German indie authors through social media: exchanging views, sharing experiences and giving advices to beginners.

NikaEmily Bold, born in 1980 in Germany, is a bestselling author of historical romance and paranormal romance novels as well as young adult fiction. Her debut novel, “Gefährliche Intrigen” (Dangerous Intrigue), was a 2011 bestseller in Germany, as well as her next series “The Curse”.

Nika Lubitsch lives with her husband in Berlin, Germany, and in Florida, USA. She is the bestselling author of “Der 7. Tag” self-published in Germany and translated by publishers throughout the world. Her second novel “Das 5. Gebot” also hit the bestsellers’ list in Germany. Before Nika Lubitsch became a self-published author, she was a writer of non-fiction books, all published by major companies and she managed her own Public Relations company.

Think Local, Act Global: How To Reach a Global and successful Audience through Self-Publishing

Two bestselling self-published authors from Italy and Germany, Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli and Matthias Matting, talked about the situation in their respective markets and the successful collaboration between authors across countries:

  • The German market has matured in the past year and is probably two years behind the American market. The Italian market has also been growing in the past years and follows the German evolution. Ebook would represent over 5% of the German market and 4 to 5% of the Italian one.
  • Both Rita Carla and Matthias mentioned their network of fellow writers in Italy and Germany, with which they connect through social media and through their blogs. They both have blogs where they share their writing life but also their expertise, whether on digital publishing and self-publishing for Matthias, or on scientific expeditions to Mars for Rita Carla who is passionate about this topic. This is a good way to expand an author’s audience beyond the first circle of readers. For example, Rita Carla’s first series is a hard science fiction series set on Mars; she is an Italian Representative of Mars Initiative and is part of the cast FantaScientificast, an Italian podcast about science fiction. As for Matthias, he shares deep insights on digital publishing and self-publishing in Germany, that prove useful for his nonfiction books as well.
  • The English-language markets are so important for ebook sales, Rita Carla decided to translate her series “Deserto Rosso into English. She did it by collaborating with English sci-fi author Richard J. Galloway, translating his novel “Amantarra into Italian, as she is a translator and having her English translation “Red Desert revised by Richard. This collaboration also proved beneficial for promotion, as each of them has been promoting the translated book in his/her country.
  • Networking and collaboration between authors all around the world is precisely the aim of Authorbuddies.com, a website created by Matthias Matting one year ago to connect authors from different countries who can thus provide each other with marketing support. As self-publishing is constantly growing, the number of translations will also increase, making it necessary to have knowledge and support before entering a foreign market. This can be a good way to know about the specifics of one market, like for example the “Buchpreisbindungsgesetz” in Germany, by which all books must have the same price with every retailer, which is not the case in Italy.

Rita FBFRita Carla Francesca Monticelli is an Italian independent author. Her first success in Italy was “Deserto Rosso”, a hard science fiction series that is being translated in English. She also released a thriller “Il Mentore”. She lives in Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy), where she works as writer, technical, scientific and literary translator, and web copywriter. She runs both Italian and English versions of her author site Anakina.

Matthias Matting is a journalist with news magazine FOCUS and an author of several nonfiction and fiction books, available in German and English. He writes mainly technical books like “Samsung Galaxy S5 – das inoffizielle Handbuch. Anleitung, Tipps, Tricks; he also wrote a sci-fi novel “Meltworld Shanghai”. He started self-publishing in 2011 and since 2013 he runs selfpublisherbibel.de, the #1 site for self-publishing in Germany.

The Business of Being an Author Today: How To be Successful in Self-Publishing

Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers as well as non-fiction for authors. Joanna is also a professional speaker and entrepreneur, voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013. Her site, TheCreativePenn.com is regularly voted one of the top sites for authors and creative entrepreneurs online. 

In her last book “Business for Authors: How to Be an Author Entrepreneur, Joanna explains what it takes to be running a business as an author. She teaches how the basics of business like distribution, financials, marketing, strategy and planning can take an author’s career much further towards success.

Joanna shared her invaluable experience with fellow writers at Frankfurt Book Fair where she made a presentation on the Kobo booth about “How To Be Successful in Self-Publishing?”

Among the precious tips she shared with the audience:

  • The first question to address as an indie author is “What’s my definition of success?” Knowing about your goal will help you define your strategy.
  • To achieve your goal, you need to be professional and to offer a book with a great cover, which has been edited and corrected. You should use metadata and keywords to facilitate online discoverability.
  • Getting reviews and using promotional tools are also important for discoverability.
  • You need to create and own your audience, through your author site or blog, your newsletter, and with the use of social media.
  • When publishing a book, be sure to make it available on every support: print, ebook, audiobook, etc.
  • Remember that digital publishing is a global business: Joanna shared her happiness when she had her first sale in Burkina Faso! (Below a snapshot of her Kobo sales throughout the world)

KWL Snapshot from FBFIt takes several books to build an audience and to be successful. Joanna started self-publishing in 2008 and she has now 12 books available in English under her two pen names and two books in German.

  • Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket: you don’t want to rely on only one business partner or platform. Diversity is key for independence.
  • And keep in mind that you’ll make mistakes in your journey to success as she did too. There is no better way to improve, given that it is very easy to change and adapt in digital publishing.
Joanna FBF

Find Joanna Penn’s FBF14 presentation here


This event was a good opportunity for European writers to interact with Joanna, asking her questions about their own books or looking for advice on their experience. We would like to thank Joanna for her cheerful attention and discussion with the audience and we also thank the authors who attended the event.