Kobo Writing Life isn’t a publishing platform I usually choose to publish on directly because I’ve used plenty of other publishing aggregate services such as Smashwords and Draft2Digital to produce Kobo books, and list them on Kobo. So, publishing and distributing an e-book with Kobo Writing Life was somewhat new to me. Even so, publishing with Kobo is simple and if you want to handle your own publishing on Kobo, it’s easy enough to accomplish.
Related link: How to Publish a Book
Links to Amazon KPD, Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Press, Smashwords, BookBaby, Lulu.com, and more
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Why self-publish your eBook on Kobo?
Why bother publishing on Kobo at all? After all, Kobo uses the standard epub formatting that you can publish anywhere. The plus to publishing on Kobo is that users of the Kobo e-reader, and the former Sony e-reader, all point to Kobo.com to search for their new content. So, if you want to sell to people who own Kobo e-readers, as well as people who do not use Amazon to buy e-books, you will want to publish on Kobo.
Why Publish Directly on Kobo?
Why publish directly on Kobo when you can use the various publishing aggregators? After all, you can simply upload to a particular aggregator of your choice and get your book published quickly. So what are the benefits with publishing directly with Kobo?
- First is price. Kobo gives you 70 percent of the retail price you set. While publish aggregators may or may not give you a good price, chances are it is less than what you can make by publishing directly on Kobo.com.
- Second is the ability to cut out the middlemen. You’re not paying someone to do the work you’re willing to do. If one of the aggregators goes out of business or drops a particular platform, your books are unaffected.
- Third, you don’t have to deal with the publishing aggregators’ meatgrinders. What I mean by this is you don’t have to have your book mangled by the programs that convert your book into however many formats the publishing aggregators use to publish your book. With some of the aggregators, you can see books in epub, mobi, txt, pdf, epub, and other more obtuse formats. With Kobo, it readily accepts epub and doesn’t convert it other than into pdf. If you choose, you can upload files in .doc, .docx, .mobi, and .odt. Kobo will then convert those files into .epub and you can then look at the result and be certain what your book looks like on Kobo after the conversion.
Even when you see the converted files from the meatgrinders, there’s no guarantee that the actual conversion will look the same when published through Kobo. Anytime you get a third party involved, there is always a chance of further changes that you didn’t anticipate.
Why NOT Publish Directly on Kobo?
You’d think this would be a no brainer, but like many good things, there are caveats. Kobo pays 45 days after the end of the month, which is a little better than Amazon. Amazon pays every 60 days after the end of the month. I then I took a look at the Kobo payments and found that the minimum that they will pay is $100, except every six months, where they will pay what you have accumulated thus far. So, until your book or books earn a combined $100, they won’t pay out faster than every six months. To give you a bit of perspective on this, if you sell your e-book for $3, you’d have to sell a minimum of 48 books to get your money. If getting a monthly paycheck isn’t a big deal, or if you publish many books that sell well, chances are you won’t mind. But if you do want to see money every month, you may wish to consider another service.
Another issue is ISBNs. While Kobo doesn’t require you to have your very own ISBN, they strongly encourage it and even tell you how to go about getting one. ISBNs are important for their expanded distribution and if you do not have one for your book, distribution is severely limited. In the United States, purchasing your own ISBNs can be costly. The prices range from $100 to $1000, depending on how many you’d like to purchase. Aggregate publishing companies such as Smashwords provide their own ISBNs for free or low cost (somewhere around $10) so that you can have the best distribution possible.
Third, there’s something to be said for simplicity. If you use an aggregate publishing company, you simply have to deal with them directly and not each individual account. It makes handling your e-books simple. You get statements from one or two places and money from one or two places. Don’t want to worry about one market only? Then an aggregate publishing company will help you handle several at once.
Getting Your Kobo Account
Getting a Kobo account is simple. You can sign up directly or have Kobo snag your information from your Facebook account. The plus to this is that it becomes easy to post via Facebook if you want to do some quick promotion.
Basically you’ll need to add your contact information and a way for Kobo to pay you when you earn royalties. You’ll also need a Tax-ID number if you expect to get your money and pay the taxman anytime soon.
Publishing On Kobo
1. Select the green button that says Create New Ebook. On the left side, you see a column of forms you need to fill out.
- Enter the eBook title
- Enter the eBook sub-title (if applicable)
- Enter the series name (if applicable)
- Enter the Author(s)’ name(s)
- Enter the Publisher’s name
- Enter the Imprint name (if applicable)
- Enter the Publication date
2. While still on the page, click on the rectangular book shape that says Upload Your Book Cover. Your book cover can only be in either jpeg or png format and cannot be larger than 5 MB. Select the file with your book cover.
3. Beneath that section is the ISBN section and where you can select the category for your book.
- Enter the eISBN (optional)
- Enter the Print ISBN (optional)
- Choose the eBook language
- Select Yes or No under Is this content part of the public domain?
4. Beside the ISBN section is the Categories section. Select up to three categories your book fits under for marketing purposes. For example, if your book is a fantasy, you may choose Fiction->Fantasy->Epic Fantasy.
5. Beneath the ISBN and Categories sections is the Synopsis section. Here, you may enter the description of your book that readers will read to decide if they wish to purchase it. When you are done, click the green button saying Save and Continue.
6. Under Add eBook content, you will upload your book. The supported file types are .doc, .docx, .epub, .mobi, .odt. Alternatively, you could enter your entire eBook through Kobo Writing Life’s text editor. At this time, you can look at your manuscript converted into epub if you did not load an epub manuscript. You’ll need an epub reader to look over the format. If at any time you don’t like what you see, you can edit your book in Kobo’s Writing Life or you can upload a newer version. Select Next.
7. Under Set The License and Geographic Rights, you need to select whether you want digital rights management and what rights you own.
Under Select Apply Digital Rights Management? select either the check mark for Yes or the X for No.
Under Worldwide rights, select either the check mark for Yes or the X for No. If No, you need to select what rights you do own. When you are done, click the green button saying Save and Continue.
8. Under Set the price, enter your price and decide on whether you wish to override any foreign prices with another one you set. When you are done, click the green button saying Save and Continue.
9. Under Publish eBook, you can choose to publish your book now or set a later date and have the book available for preorder. Select Publish eBook to publish your eBook.
That was pretty much about it. Easy, isn’t it?
Other Thoughts on Kobo
Kobo directly publishes to the following companies:Chapters/Indigo in Canada, Angus and Robertson in Australia, Whitcoulls in New Zealand, FNAC in France, and WH Smith in the United Kingdom.
If you’d prefer to use a publishing aggregator, there are several that Kobo recommends. These include:
- Author Solutions (US)
- Book Baby (US)
- Book Hub (US)
- Bookmasters (US)
- Book Pod (Australia)
- eBookit (US)
- eBook Partnership (UK)
- Fast Pencil (US)
- National Book Network (US)
- Smashwords (US)
So, should you publish directly on Kobo? It’s really up to you. If you like being in control of all your distributors and making top dollar, then that is certainly an option. If you only have a few books which you need to keep track of, then that is also a good option for you. If you’re bound and determined to stay away from the Amazon juggernaut, Kobo is also a great option.
As the publisher of Sky Warrior Books, I, too, publish our books on Kobo, but I shameless use publishing aggregators. While I like the simplicity of Kobo’s publishing platform, I also love the simplicity of publishing across a variety of platforms. That is probably why I haven’t used Kobo Writing Life until today. Now that I have, I’ll probably test out the waters and see if it is another tool I’ll use in my arsenal. It is an intriguing one.
Maggie Bonham is an award-winning writer and editor of more than 30 books and more than a thousand articles. She has written articles on science, pets, sustainability, hunting, technology, outdoors and recreation, food, writing, publishing, careers, and other topics. She is also a publisher.