There aren’t many book retailers with as much of a personal focus as Kobo. When’s the last time you listened to a podcast sponsored by the iBooks store or Nook Press? The team at Kobo Writing Life has done a lot to get its name out there in the indie community. The PR for Kobo is through the roof, but how are the book sales at the Canadian retailer?
Like with Apple or Nook Press, few authors count Kobo as their number one source of sales. Authors who’ve had their work featured in a Kobo promotion have touted four-figure monthly revenue with books sold in a variety of countries. Meanwhile, most indies sum up their experience with Kobo like so: I love Kobo. I just wish I sold some books there.
There are several action steps you’ll need to take if you plan to pull in some sales at Kobo. Here are five things you may not have known about the Canadian sleeping giant:
1. It Has An International Focus
On the KBoards forum, some authors talk at great length about the Brown Bar of Shame (BBOS). This refers to the formerly browned out monthly report that you see if you haven’t made a sale in a certain country on Amazon. If Kobo had a similar interface, then there would be a lot more BBOSes to speak of.
Kobo sells books to 190 countries. Any listener of The Creative Penn has heard host Joanna Penn talk at length about her sales in dozens of countries. While it’s difficult to get a foothold in countries outside the U.S., the U.K., and Canada, Kobo can help you to sell books to millions of readers throughout the globe.
2. Kobo Took Over for Sony
If you published books on Smashwords between 2010 and 2013, then you’ll remember the ever-present disappointment from the Sony store. The platform, which was rarely known to bring indies significant sales, faded into obscurity long before Kobo acquired its customers in March 2014.
By obtaining Sony’s ebook customers, Kobo increased its number of clients served from several million to 21 million. What’s difficult to know is how many of those millions of additional customers were disillusioned by the problematic Sony store. Regardless, Sony’s loss is Kobo’s gain and the platform has higher potential after the acquisition than it did beforehand.
3. You Can Schedule Promos Ahead of Time
Kobo is a very recent entry to the ebook game. This leads to both positives and negatives for the platform. While it doesn’t have nearly the customer reach of Amazon or Apple, it does have one of the cleanest publishing interfaces of the entire bunch.
Kobo Writing Life’s publishing program allows you to schedule price promotions well in advance. It also lets you set these promotional prices in different currencies. To do the same thing on Amazon, you’d need to remind yourself to change the prices manually on the day before your promo. Kobo has made it much easier for the overworked indie to keep discounted book campaigns on schedule.
4. There’s a Page For Free Book Promos
Kobo made waves in 2014 by promoting its First Book Free page. This is a page dedicated solely to free books, with most of them representing the start of a new series for readers to check out. Mark Lefebvre, the director of self-publishing and author services at Kobo Writing Life, has given multiple interviews on the subject of Kobo and the First Books Free page. To get featured on the page, authors should contact the Kobo Writing Life team directly. You’re more likely to get your page featured there if it’s linking to other higher-priced books later on in the series.
5. Success Requires Networking
Kobo has massive potential and the platform has grown by leaps and bounds in the last two years. For all its promise, the retailer is still based on merchandisers who want to move books that are $4.99 or higher. If you’re selling a ton of books on Kobo, then you’ll probably hear from a Kobo rep to include you in future promotions. When your Kobo sales are lagging, however, you’ll need a sales pitch and the ear of a rep to give you a shot at joining a lucrative promotion.
Try to make a direct connection with Kobo reps at conferences or online through podcasts and blog comments on the Kobo Writing Life website. Keep in mind that a random email requesting your inclusion in a promo won’t be good enough. You need one or multiple books at a high-enough price point for it to be worth their time. If you peddle nothing but 99-cent novellas, then you may not get much help from the Kobo hierarchy.
A Brand On The Rise
Kobo is doing almost everything right when it comes to getting its name out there. Authors who sell with Kobo have rated it highly for both attitude and customer experience. While the platform tends to be a third, fourth or fifth option for some authors, this will change over time as the ebook market matures internationally. It may not ever overtake Amazon, but it’s easy enough to publish on Kobo that it’s more than worth it to put your books up there and give it a go.
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