SFFMP 125: Kobo’s New Subscription Service and the State of the Industry with Mark Lefebvre

Today, Mark Lefebvre, horror writer and the Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo, joined us for his second time on the show. Previously, we chatted about international sales trends and tips for selling more books at Kobo.

Today, we asked Mark about some of the new developments at Kobo, such as a subscription service for readers (one which indie authors can enroll in) called Kobo Plus. You’re not automatically enrolled. If you’re interested, you need to select to participate in the “rights” section for each book, and Kobo asks that you be willing to leave your book in for a six month period (they’re asking the same thing from traditional publishers), to help them plan for promotions.

We also asked Mark about some of the state-of-industry stuff. For instance, is the ebook market now “saturated,” or is it still growing in the U.S. and in other countries? What percentage of ebooks being sold come from traditional publishing, small press, and indie authors? What can newer authors do to gain traction now that there’s more competition in the marketplace? Is a permafree Book 1 still a good marketing strategy for Kobo? And how might one get more books to sell in the growing international markets?

Among other things, Mark mentioned using the universal link creation service at Books2Read to turn one link into links for all your books so that your international readers and readers in other stores can easily find the one that works for them.

If you want to upload direct to Kobo, or read the Writing Life blog or subscribe to the podcast, you can do so from the main site: Kobo Writing Life.

You can also learn more about Mark and his work on his site.

 

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SFFMP 91: Set-It-and-Forget-It Marketing and Selling Well in Non-Amazon Bookstores

Today, Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay talked about their strategies for selling books in the non-Amazon bookstores, such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Smashwords, and Apple. They also discussed some of the tactics they’ve used over the years that they would consider “set it and forget it marketing.” These are things they did once and that have continued to result in book sales month in and month out.

They also addressed some listener questions about Amazon ebook giveaways and setting up author newsletters. (Here’s a link to the WordPress plug-in that Jeff uses: Newsletter.)

Lindsay went into some details about the successful launch of her recent science fiction series, including the promos she scheduled and how and why she went about creating a new mailing list just for the sci-fi.

Here are the promo sites she used (these will accept new releases, but sometimes require that an author have previously published books with good reviews): Fussy Librarian, Ereader News Today, Books Butterfly, Free Kindle Books and Tips, and Bknights. Lindsay forgot to mention it, but ENT and Books Butterfly were the most worth it in terms of delivering sales, at least for her title in this case.

Links to Jo’s DeviantArt people:

The digital sculptor of Squee the Funk was Liz Landis.

The Sculptor that won the acclaim on DA was Viistar, and here’s the post of Jo’s project: http://viistar.deviantart.com/art/Ivy-Turn-620932412

 

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SFFMP 78: International Sales Trends/Tips and Selling More Ebooks at Kobo with Mark Lefebvre

Today we chatted with Mark Leslie Lefebvre, a horror author who also happens to be the Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations at Kobo.com. We talked about how to increase visibility and sell more books at Kobo, and also about trends for science fiction and fantasy, both in the main Canadian store and in the numerous international stores that Kobo works with.

Here’s some of what we covered:

  • Keeping things in perspective: Kobo is a much smaller store than Amazon (but they often go toe-to-toe when it comes to non-U.S. markets)
  • Reasons to go direct to Kobo through Kobo Writing Life (versus using Smashwords/Draft 2 Digital distribution)
  • The new “promotions” tab that’s available to authors (currently in beta) via the dashboard in Kobo Writing Life
  • Tips for getting on the radar of those who handle merchandising for Kobo
  • Best pricing tactics for science fiction and fantasy
  • Which countries are growing and friendly to speculative fiction?
  • Pricing considerations for international markets
  • How science fiction and fantasy are trending upward and more authors are appearing in the Top 10 of overall best selling indie authors at Kobo (it’s not all just romance anymore!)
  • A tip for visibility: make sure to fill out your series meta data, keywords, and put something in the imprint field (even if it’s your author name), in addition to having a good cover and blurb.
  • Increasing a book’s “temperature” at Kobo through sales (even looks and clicks can help)
  • Mark suggests SF/F authors hit up their local ComicCon and pay for a booth there (hint: he sells tons of books when he goes)

If you want to check out Mark’s fiction, his short story, “Snowman Shivers,” is free on all platforms: Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple.

You can find Mark on Twitter @markleslie and you can also follow @KoboWritingLife

 

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SFFMP 40: Going Wide and Selling More on Platforms Besides Amazon

On this hot summer day, we chatted amongst ourselves about going wide and improving sales on the sites other than Amazon, specifically Kobo, Apple, and Barnes & Noble. We even brought up the subscription sites (Scribd and Oyster) and Google Play. We also answered a couple of listener questions.

Here’s a closer look at what we covered:

  • Does it matter what time of year you launch a new series? I.e. are summer sales slow, and should you wait until fall?
  • When is it acceptable to call yourself an Amazon bestseller?
  • What are the pros and cons of publishing on all of the stores versus going exclusive with Amazon?
  • How the heck do you sell books on those other sites anyway? We talked about using the free book or the 99-cent intro boxed set, trying to talk with the distributors to get promotions, linking to all of your books on all of the sites, and including sneak previews to entice the people who read the freebies to pick up the rest of the series.
  • Should you adjust prices at all on the other sites?
  • Is it better to go through a distributor such as Smashwords or Draft2Digital or upload directly everywhere that you can?
  • The link to the “first in series free” thread Lindsay mentioned (though it looks like it isn’t being monitored by Kobo any more). Someone suggested you can fill out this form on Kobo to be considered.

 

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SFFMP 25: Marketing, Pre-Orders, and Distribution with Smashwords Founder Mark Coker

Tonight, we had Smashwords founder Mark Coker on the show, and he gave us a lot of great information on working the pre-order system on Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc., marketing on Smashwords and sites it distributes to, and selling more books overall. Here are some of the highlights of the interview:

  • How Mark’s book, The Boobtube, led him to create Smashwords back in 2008
  • How to take advantage of pre-orders on Smashwords, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, etc. (Unlike with Amazon, you get a big boost on release day, because the orders accumulate and all count toward your Day 1 sales.)
  • Possibly getting extra merchandizing love with retailers such as Apple, based on strong pre-order interest and early sales
  • New features coming to the Smashwords pre-order system, such as assetless pre-orders (so you don’t need to have the finished manuscript in order to make your book available for order)
  • Don’t worry — no penalties at Smashwords for missed deadlines on pre-orders, but you can upload up to 12 months ahead, so you can give yourself plenty of time
  • Getting books into libraries through Smashwords (OverDrive/Library Direct) and Mark’s thoughts on new sites such as EbooksAreForever.com.
  • Why still use a distributor? Makes it easy to get books out without having to be on each platform (on Barnes & Noble, you actually end up making more on books priced under $2.99)
  • Scribd, Oyster, and other smaller retailers that you can only get into via a distributor
  • The Smashwords affiliate program (getting other people to plug your book for you — and giving them an incentive to do so)
  • Common mistakes Mark sees authors making
  • Are permafree series starters still working?
  • What’s coming next to Smashwords

Whether you use Smashwords or not, you might gain something from checking out Mark’s helpful books: Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (Amazon | Smashwords) and Smashwords Book Marketing Guide – How to Market any Book for Free (Amazon | Smashwords)

 

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