In this episode, the KWL team celebrates 300 episodes of the Kobo Writing Life podcast! With 300 episodes and 9 years of podcasting under our belts, we wanted to release this special episode featuring members of the KWL teams and Kobo teams that make publishing your eBooks and audiobooks possible. We learn more about their roles, what they read, and how they help in the journey of your eBooks!
- We hear from members of the KWL business team, the KWL content team, and the North American merchandising team and Kobo Originals team and learn more about their work
- Our fantastic team members share their equally fantastic reads
- We thank you, our amazing audience, for your support and years of listenership
- And much more!
If you are ready to start the journey of your eBooks and audiobooks, please visit kobo.com/writinglife for more information.
We’ve put together this handy flowchart to give you a better idea of what the journey of an eBook looks like!
From the start to the future of your eBook’s time on virtual shelves, we at KWL work to support your efforts and goals as an author.
Mentioned in this episode:
Woman, Watching by Merilyn Simonds
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Either/Or by Elif Batuman
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Dear Roomie by Kate Meader
The High Mountain Court by A. K. Mulford
Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
Pond by Claire Louise-Bennett
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
An Immense World by Ed Yong
The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre
Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood
Motherthing by Ainslie Hogarth
The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
The Storyteller by Dave Grohl
Sea of Ruin by Pam Godwin
Kobo Writing Life: Helping you reach your readers, wherever they are
Kobo Writing Life is the free self-publishing portal that allows authors and publishers to easily create, edit, and upload eBooks to Kobo. When you choose to distribute your content through Kobo Writing Life (KWL), you’re making it available to millions of readers in over 200 countries. You are choosing to take advantage of Kobo’s strong retail partners around the world – we power the eBook side of many of the world’s most renowned bookstores. Publish to Kobo Writing Life today, and let us help you fulfill your dream of publishing your work and finding fans around the world.
Transcription by www.speechpad.com
Rachel: Hey, writers, you’re listening to the “Kobo Writing Life” podcast, where we bring you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. I’m your host, Rachel, Promotion Specialist at Kobo Writing Life. And this week, we are celebrating the 300th episode of the “Kobo Writing Life” podcast. We are so grateful to everyone who has listened to all 300 episodes or just a couple of episodes, who have gotten us to this point. We can’t believe we’re recording episode 300.
And to celebrate, we are gonna give you a behind-the-scenes look at the journey of an e-book. We will hear from members of the KWL business team, the KWL content team, and the North American merchandising team to show you how all of our work connects to your e-book when you publish it through Kobo Writing Life. And we’re also gonna give you some great reading recommendations because if there’s one thing that all Kobo employees love to do is read, and also talk about books.
First up, we’re gonna hear from Tara, the Director of Kobo Writing Life. Tara has been featured on a bunch of other podcasts for indie authors, including as a host of the “Kobo Writing Life” podcast. So, you’ve probably heard her before, and you might have even met her at a conference or a workshop event. Either way, Tara has been with Kobo for over a decade and has a wealth of knowledge to offer. I still learn about Kobo Writing Life from her almost every day. She is the starting point for so many of our authors, as dozens have been inspired to join KWL thanks to her energy and expertise. So, without further ado, let’s hear from Tara.
Tara: Hi, my name is Tara Cremin, and I’m the Director for Kobo Writing Life for English language. And the work that I do sort of touches on all aspects of a book at Kobo, or at Kobo Writing Life. So, a lot of the work we do is brand awareness, so making sure that independent authors and publishers out there know about Kobo. I kind of try and share Kobo stories, whether it’s in, like, different conferences and stuff, and share the success that authors have found on Kobo Writing Life. So, there’s that piece at the beginning before you’re even publishing, we want you to know about us.
And then at the other end of things, we really try and build the relationships with the authors that use Kobo Writing Life, so whether kind of you’re wanting to promote your book even further, you wanna have that one-on-one business connection where we can advise you on how we think that you can sell better, or maybe there’s something, a new initiative that we have available to you. So, I spend a lot of time kind of coming up with strategies with authors after the fact. So, not in the technical in the middle, but I’m helping authors come to Kobo Writing Life, and then also helping authors succeed on Kobo Writing Life, in a nutshell. I think that’s it.
And what am I reading at the moment? I feel like I always read the dullest books, but I’m reading a book called “Woman, Watching,” which is about… It’s not even about birdwatching, it’s about a woman who is birdwatching. But it’s by Merilyn Simonds. But it’s super interesting. It’s this life story of a Swedish-Canadian birdwatcher who lived in Northern Ontario. And I’m learning a lot about native Ontarian bird species here. So, yeah, that seems pretty dull. Sorry for that.
Rachel: All right. Congratulations. You have joined Kobo Writing Life. You’ve written your book, you’ve edited it, you’ve proofread it, and you’ve got a beautiful cover. Now you’re ready to publish with Kobo Writing Life. After you’ve created your account, the first step is uploading your e-books file and awaiting publication. Here is Sarah from our content team with more details on how that works.
Sarah: Hi, I’m Sarah. I’m a Content Coordinator here at Kobo, which means that I’m one of the many people at Kobo who work on Kobo Writing Life’s operations. So, I’m gonna give a brief overview of everything that KWL content operations entail. We’re a small team, but we get a lot done. Basically, we’re responsible for everything to do with your book’s content, both e-books and audiobooks. This means that we review and approve new books, enforce our content policy, and make decisions about what we will and will not allow in our catalog. This entails a lot of author support. So, we handle all kinds of questions about your content, including formatting, uploading, and any other questions you might have about EPUBs, audio files, or cover images.
We also handle questions about things that you might not think of as content, questions about price changes, reviews, changing your books page counts on your product page, and anything to do with the book’s metadata.
Our team also does audiobook support. So, we review people’s requests for the audiobooks tab, enable access, and support authors by answering any questions they have about how to upload and publish audiobooks. We’re also involved in ensuring content is sent to our partners. So, we send content to OverDrive, which is our library retail partner, and two other retail partners, including Indigo, Bol, Mondadori, and many, many more.
And then lastly, we’re involved when things go wrong with our catalog. So, this includes things like fraud, copyright infringement, and even customer-reported issues with KWL books. Basically, we do a lot, and much of it’s happening behind the scenes. For more information, feel free to email us or check out our many articles on the KWL help desk. I’m currently reading “Either/Or” by Elif Batuman. It’s the sequel to her earlier novel, “The idiot.” I highly recommend them both.
Rachel: Next, you might have some questions about what it’s like to be a Kobo Writing Life author. For any info you might need, you can check out your dashboard, the KWL help desk, and our blog, all of which have a wealth of information. Once your e-book has been published, you can begin tracking it stats and data using your dashboard, which supports a high-level overview of your sales and other important statistics. But even after looking at all of that, you might still have questions. Your best bet is to then get in contact with Laura, our Author Engagement Manager, or Terrence, our Content Coordinator.
Laura: Hi, everyone. My name is Laura, and I’m Kobo Writing Life’s Author Engagement Manager. In my work on KWL, I touch a bunch of different things that authors may encounter on their publishing journey. I handle a lot of author support, so I’m answering all their questions and taking feedback. I also work on author payments and make sure those go smoothly. Very important job. I also attend author conferences and webinars to help authors learn how to reach readers on Kobo and offer any tips and tricks.
This year, I’ll be at NINC in Florida and 20Books in Vegas. So, I hope to see you there. I work on the “Kobo Writing Life” podcast with Rachel, so make sure you subscribe and listen for author interviews, business advice, and even tips on craft.
And lastly, I run Kobo Writing Life social media channels, so make sure you follow us online @KoboWritingLife. I’m currently reading “Dear Roomie” by Kate Meader. It has all my favorite things in a romance, like hockey and the grumpy-sunshine trope. I definitely recommend her “Rookie Rebels” series to any romance fans.
Terrence: Hi, my name is Terrence, and I’m a Content Coordinator at Kobo Writing Life. My role is all about creative content and support. As the content coordinator, I help out with a variety of things, answering questions about how KWL operates, assisting in promotions and promotional campaigns, writing and editing blog content, and otherwise offering my indie publishing expertise to those who need it.
I have a background in specialty bookselling and indie and traditional publishing, and an MA in contemporary literature that has helped me develop my working practice. I’m looking to contribute to KWLs amazing author resources by focusing on new approaches to marketing, niche bookselling, and personal author development such as growing one’s writing practice or developing your brand. I’m particularly interested in helping people to develop their author careers, or even just to achieve their goal of publishing a book that resulted from writing as a hobby, participation in National Novel Writing Month, or whatever. If you are new to publishing, in general, and feel intimidated in any way, I wanna be there to help. There’s a lot to learn, and I, too, am learning new things every day.
I also help to produce the podcast. So, we have Rachel and Laura host, and Kelly edits. I organize the backend, uploading and posting the podcast, monitoring its stats, communicating with guests, and otherwise getting all the logistics in order.
As for what I’m currently reading, I’m currently reading several books as I like to have multiple genres of books going at the same time. I’m reading new adult fantasy, “The High Mountain Court” by A.K. Mulford, which is the first in a five-book series, solarpunk, cozy fantasy favorite, “A Psalm for the Wild-Built” by Becky Chambers, a nonfiction animal biology title, “An Immense World” by award-winning author, Ed Yong, “Pond,” which is a literary fiction title by Claire-Louise Bennett, and I recently also started “The Year of the Witching,” which is a historical horror novel by Alexis Henderson. I’ll read anything and everything, and I’m always interested in trying out new books recommended to me. Like everyone at KWL, I love to talk about my favorite reads.
Rachel: After e-book has been published and all of your questions have been answered, it might be time to look into the array of promotions that we offer. Now, if you don’t see a Promo tab on your KWL dashboard, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for it, and we will happily give it to you. And to talk about all things promotions. Obviously, you’re gonna hear from me next.
I am Rachel. Hello. I am the Promotion Specialist at Kobo Writing Life. And what that means is essentially any promotion that we run, e-book, audiobook, OverDrive comes through me. So, I’m in charge of planning all of our promotions. We plan months in advance. For example, it is August 23rd right now when we’re recording this, and I am submitting promo requests for November. So, we plan very far in advance. So, I’m in charge of running our promotions calendar, our new release calendar. If you have new releases coming out, make sure you tell them about us or tell us about them because I will always do my best to find merchandising space for them.
And then I’m also kind of in charge of promotions on the more, like, minute level, more macro-micro level. So, when you submit your titles to our promotions, I’m the one who’s putting those promos on the Promo tab. I’m the one who’s sending you all those emails telling you what promos are coming up, asking for submissions for audiobook promos, asking for submissions for OverDrive promos.
And then I’m the one who has the pleasure of going through all of our submissions. I get to see everybody’s book title, cover. I get to kind of make the final call on what goes into our promotions. So, either you love me, or you’re not a huge fan of me sometimes. But when it comes to our promotions, my biggest advice is always keep submitting. We get a lot of submissions for our promos, and I feel like sometimes that isn’t really well-known.
So, one of my best examples to use is our first in-series promotion that we run every week on the free page has six spots in it. Every week, we get over 100 submissions. So, that means I only get to approve six titles a week. So, keep submitting your books. And then if you keep submitting and you’re not having success, email us. Let us know. There’s always things you can kind of tweak. You can tweak your pricing, tweak your covers, tweak your blurb, but yeah, I am the promotions guru. Any promo questions, any promotions we run either through the KWL exclusive promotions, like our Buy More Save More, our percentage off sales that we run every month, or the sales that we run through our content sales team, who I believe you will also hear in this episode of the podcast. I work with them as well to submit KWL titles to appear in promotions alongside titles from the big five publishers. So, yeah, I am your promotion specialist and also host of the “Kobo Writing Life” podcast.
When it comes to what I like to read, I am a really big mood reader. So, sometimes I’m like, “I’m feeling some literary fiction,” but most of the time, I’m a genre fiction person. And one of my favorite books to recommend is “A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers. This book started out as a blog and then turned into a Kickstarter that was funded so Becky could complete this book because it’s so good that people wanted more of it. And then it got picked up by a publisher, but it is a wonderful sci-fi book. And if you’re new to sci-fi, it’s a great intro because it’s very character-focused. It kind of has a road trippy vibe. It’s a bunch of misfits on a spaceship punching a hole through the universe, and I cannot recommend it enough. So, that is always my go-to book recommendation is “A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers. And it’s a first in a series, so when you’re done with that, you get another three books.
Next up, let’s hear from Deandra, the Content Sales Lead for North America. Deandra works with traditional publishers, as well as working closely with me and KWL, and is dedicated to the art of bookselling. There is no one I would rather talk books or the “Real Housewives” franchise with than Deandra. She is a great person to have on the team, and I’m excited to hear what she has to say.
Deandra: My name is Deandra LaLonde, and I am the Content Sales Lead for e-books for North America. Our team works on merchandising the storefronts and organizing and coordinating promotions for e-books. We also work really closely with the audiobook team to make sure our promotions are either aligned or so there won’t be too much crossover.
The KWL team will alert us to upcoming titles across all genres, any new releases, any books with buzz. We make sure our calendars and our list on site are up-to-date with these titles. We will notify the KWL team of any upcoming promotions in our respective territories, so Canada and the U.S., for me. And they will, in turn, reach out to authors and let them know what’s coming down the pipeline.
Part of our job is to make sure we are on top of book trends, awards, general buzz about specific titles, but also broader trends like genres that are getting some attention. We also utilize our reporting to make database decisions, and make sure we’re making the strongest business decisions we can. We pride ourselves on being true book lovers as well as booksellers. So, our staff picks are sourced directly from team members across the whole company, not just within our team. And we try to add a personal human touch as often as we can within the limitations of running a digital bookstore.
Even when our team isn’t talking about work, we are usually discussing the books we are currently reading or have read recently and comparing notes. It’s kind of like being in a constant book club that meets every day from the hours of 9:00 to 5:00. On that note, I am always juggling multiple books at once. So, I like to have something in e-book, audiobook, and physical book going at any given time, usually more than one in each.
So, for books that I’m currently reading right now or recently finished, I recently finished “The Spy and the Traitor” by Ben Macintyre. It’s a few years old, but when I finished rewatching “The Americans,” which is the greatest TV show of all time, I was in a big espionage chase. So, I made my way through that one slowly since the winter because it’s kind of heavy nonfiction. That was an e-book. And then an audiobook, I’m listening to Ali Hazelwood’s latest. I’ve only listened to her books in audio. And I really like the narrators for them.
And then for physical books, I’m currently reading an advanced copy of “Motherthing,” which is a Strange Light title coming out in September, and I’m really liking it so far. And I’m also picking my way through the “The Emperor of All Maladies.” It’s taken me two years since the end of my own cancer treatment to be able to consume any media that remotely deals with cancer, and now I’ve gone in the opposite direction and I’ve just been devouring a bunch of cancer-related material, which can be very dark but it’s also very fascinating to dive into the history of treatments and cancer and how far we’ve come in such a short time.
So, clearly, I like to read any and everything. I am not a genre-specific reader. I like to have something going in all formats, but as well as all genres so that I can read whatever my mood is making me feel like.
Rachel: Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about e-books. But what about your audiobooks? Let’s hear from Elyse, who is the Content Sales Manager for audiobooks on a global scale. Like Deandra, Elyse works with both traditional publishers and with me and KWL to help support merchandising and sales. Elyse lives and breathes audiobooks, so she is absolutely the best person to hear from when it comes to uploading your audiobooks directly with Kobo Writing Life.
Elyse: Hi, my name is Elyse, and I am the Content Sales Manager for global audiobooks here at Kobo. How I work with the Kobo Writing Life team and authors once an author has uploaded their audiobook via the KWL platform and it’s added to the Kobo store, their book now enters my world. The KWL team, they flag new titles to my team and we’re responsible for merchandising all the audio content on the store. We aim to both highlight content from our KWL friends and also integrate it into lists and pages with traditionally published content so it’s easy to find for listeners.
My team is also responsible for Kobo’s audiobook promotions. We try to include KWL authors in as many campaigns as we possibly can, and we also make sure to reserve promotional slots that are exclusive to KWL authors. If you’d like to participate in a promotion, please reach out to the KWL team through the Writing Life dashboard and they will add you to our promotions list.
The last time I was on this podcast I asked for more science fiction and fantasy authors to submit their titles to sales, and they really listened. We’re actually, in fact, running our first KWL exclusive sale that is only sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery next month. This is the first time that we’ll be running a major KWL audio sale that doesn’t include romance. So, we’re really branching out as more and more authors are uploading their audiobooks to the platform.
The other way that I work with the KWL team to help authors sell their books is providing different marketing assets to the team, so whether these are generic, you can get my audiobook on kobo.com, creative assets for authors to share on social media, and their newsletters directly with their fans, or it’s providing information of how customers can find their books. So, authors can do many different outreach programs to their authors themselves. So, what we do is we try and make it as accessible as possible for both authors and listeners to find books, and hopefully, grow the audiobook presence on our store more and more.
Currently, I’ve been reading a lot of Brandon Sanderson this year, specifically has been “Mistborn” series. I’m a big fantasy reader, and he’s one of my favorite worldbuilders out there. And then I’m currently listening, as an audiobook, to Dave Grohl’s “The Storyteller.” I’m a big Dave Grohl fan, big Foo Fighter fan, big Nirvana fan. So, that one is super interesting as well.
Rachel: So, you’ve published your e-books, you’ve uploaded your audiobooks, and you are well on your way to achieving your goals as an author. After you’ve had your books available for a few weeks, you’ll probably be wondering, “When do I get paid?”
Last but absolutely not least, let’s hear from Vanessa who works with KWL’s finances as well as directly on Kobo Originals, Kobo’s original and exclusive content. Vanessa is an expert on all things KWL finance, and she also happens to be the only other team member who has watched “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while know that’s a pretty big deal to me. Let’s hear from Vanessa.
Vanessa: My name is Vanessa, and I am the KWL and Kobo Originals Content Coordinator. What I do on the KWL side of my job is all the financial stuff that makes sure all authors get paid. So, if there are any issues with payments, people will reach out to me as I do in full investigation with many of the reasons a payment could get interrupted or rejected. I’m also a point of contact for the team for more basic information like promotions and audiobook tabs, any banking information, and general knowledge as well.
For the other half of my job, which is on the Kobo Originals side, we publish books to our Kobo imprint. Our latest release is “The Unmatchmakers” by Jackie Lau. If you have any interest in checking out our Originals program, you can find the Author Submission Form in the KWL newsletter.
For books I’m reading, I’m a fantasy historical romance lover with a little bit of spice. So, I’m currently reading a book called “Sea of Ruin” by Pam Godwin, which, of course, was a Booktok recommendation.
Rachel: And that, my friends, is the journey of your e-book and audiobooks on KWL before they find their way into the hands and hearts of Kobo readers around the world. We hope our overview has answered some of your questions about publishing with KWL and has introduced you to some of the many members of the amazing teams that make all this work. We’re here to support you on your journey as an author, and we like to think we do our very best to help you succeed.
We also wanna say a final thank you to all of our listeners and their listenership for getting us to Episode 300. This podcast has been going strong since 2013. And with 300 episodes and thousands of listeners over those last 9 years, it’s time to celebrate and recognize how great it is to have such a dedicated audience. If you’re not already subscribed to the “Kobo Writing Life” podcast, this is a great opportunity to do so and get us to that Episode 400. If you have any other questions about publishing with Kobo Writing Life or want to learn more about us, you should follow us on socials. We are @KoboWritingLife on Face-book and Twitter, and @kobo.writing.life on Instagram.
This episode was hosted by me, Rachel Wharton, and was written, organized, produced, and just all around put together by our wonderful Content Coordinator, Terrence Abrahams. Editing is provided by Kelly Robotham. Our theme music is composed by Tear Jerker.
And again, a huge thanks to the many members of the KWL teams for being involved in this episode. If you’re ready to start your publishing journey, sign up today at kobo.com/writinglife. Until next time, happy writing.