Instead of the regular interview with an author or industry person, episode 75 of the KWL Podcast features Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre pausing to look at some of the most successful Kobo Writing Life authors on Kobo from the past year.

Looking at some of the recently posted stats regarding the Top KWL Titles and Authors from 2016, Lefebvre 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 authors might consider in their own business plans for success.

The items are:

Genres / Genre Fiction

The top authors are all writing books in genre fiction, with Romance and Mystery/Thriller/Suspense being consistently at the top of all the lists. This is in line with Kobo’s demographics and the fact that Romance readers, and Thriller/Mystery readers to a slightly lesser extent, tend to be the book mavens who read voraciously.

One interesting change for 2016 has been that thriller/mystery/suspense titles have moved into the Top 10 consistently, sharing that space more with romance than in the past.

While Romance and Thrillers top the list, Fantasy, Science-Fiction and even Contemporary/Literary Fiction made it onto the list. But it’s clear that fiction and in particular genre fiction is something in common with all the top-sellers.

KWL Posts tagged with “Genre”

Series / Aggressive Publishing Schedule

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.

For more information on how to optimize series titles, check out these posts:

Selling More of Your Series Books on Kobo

Can You Revive A Series A Decade Later?

KWL Posts tagged with “Series”

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.


How do the covers of Lauren Blakely and Mark Dawson appeal to different readers? What about Renita D’Silva and Robert Bryndza?

For more information about covers, check out these posts:

JD Smith’s Cover Design Essentials

So, About That Cover: Book Cover Design Tips From A Merchandiser

What to Look for in a Book Cover Designer

6 Expert Tips on Designing a Great Book Cover

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.


How do The Sullivans series novels by Bella Andre continue the author brand in a consistent fashion? And how does this author branding promise a different type of romance experience that what is promised to Helen Hardt Steel Brothers Saga readers?


The author brand is a promise made to a particularly targeted reader. Author branding is integral to the marketing and targeting strategies of the most successful authors.


How do these two different series by Adam Croft (Knight & Culverhouse on the left and Kempston Hardwick Mysteries on the right) brand the author consistently yet promise two different reader experiences?

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.”

A great way for authors to ensure that readers can easily find their book on virtually any reading platform without having to manage either half a dozen or several dozen links and various versions of the “calls to action” in their ebooks can be found on the free universal linking systems Books2Read powered by the folks at Draft2Digital.


Author friendly universal book links for ALL books, not just indie, not just trad pub’d

Links to two of Lefebvre’s books (one indie published and the other traditionally published) via Books2Read.



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. He cheekily calls it A TALE OF TWO PRICE POINTS


Why do some titles get featured while others are given a pass? Basic math (and job preservation of booksellers)


If you enjoy this podcast and would like to automatically download episodes as they go live – even before the show notes are posted to the Kobo Writing Life website – subscribe to the RSS feed via your favourite pod-capturing platform (such as iTunes) using this link: RSS feed for Kobo Writing Life Podcast.

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