Events sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, Kobo’s do-it-yourself e-book publishing platform, have been a success in drawing both authors and customers to local independent bookstores around the country. The events provide actionable information for turning manuscripts into e-books while encouraging authors to maintain a symbiotic relationship with their local indies.
Kobo Writing Life is a user-friendly self-publishing portal designed to remove the barriers for writers and small presses. Authors who want to publish their work as an e-book can do so through Kobo’s website by inputting the book’s details, uploading the manuscript, choosing content rights, and setting a price. Users can monitor sales easily through the site’s dashboard. Events are designed to explain the details of this process to authors and to promote the availability of self-published works through indie bookstore websites.
“Each event has been tailored to a store’s wants and needs,” said Christine Munroe, manager of Kobo Writing Life. “For authors, the biggest challenge today is rising above the noise of millions of other titles being released every year. Connecting with booksellers and readers in this distinct way is an amazing opportunity to stand out.”
At New York City’s Housing Works Bookstore Café, Munroe organized a panel of digital publishing experts, including a representative from BiblioCrunch, which helps connect authors to publishing professionals who offer design, editing, and marketing services. The event drew more than 100 attendees.
“Kobo came to us about hosting this event,” said Amanda Bullock, Housing Work’s director of public programming. “They were very supportive and open to helping and wanted to let people know how they can support Housing Works with Kobo.”
The event panel provided a realistic look at the entire publishing process. “People are aware that Kobo Writing Life is an option, but they don’t know all the details, or the work that goes into it,” said Bullock. “Some of the impetus behind this event was to answer those questions.” Since attendees found the panel useful and informative, Housing Works has scheduled another event with BiblioCrunch to be held in the future.
In January at Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, Mark Lefebvre, director of self-publishing and author relations at Kobo, talked about Kobo Writing Life’s services and was followed by two authors who published their titles through the Village Books publishing program.
Especially inspiring was Robert Slater, who had a great success with his apocalyptic YA novel All Is Silence, said Village Books general manager Paul Hanson. Through the Village Books program, Slater published All Is Silence in print using Ingram’s Lightning Source and in e-book format through Kobo Writing Life. Utilizing both services, he was able to strengthen the “searchability” of his book, said Hanson. Slater’s novel ultimately became a Kobo bestseller and was for a short time third in its genre, immediately following Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Insurgent. Slater wrote a blog post about his experience for Kobo Writing Life.
The presenters at Village Books were illuminating and provided “lots of nuts and bolts” for the authors, most of whom were not quite ready for publication, said Hanson, adding, “They were all writing like mad when the presenters were talking. It was like they couldn’t keep their pens moving fast enough.”
Hanson stressed that it’s important for indies to remain a part of the self-publishing and e-book conversations. Maintaining a hands-on, one-to-one relationship with authors can help them avoid the pitfalls they’d make on their own, he said. “An independent bookstore partnering with independently published authors is a natural fit.”
In addition to providing authors with an informative overview of the self-publishing program, Kobo Writing Life events are another reminder to customers that they can support self-published and digital-only authors through their indie bookstore, said Munroe. The events at Housing Works and Village Books were targeted towards authors looking to publish their works, but Kobo Writing Life has also presented intimate one-author events that focus on e-book purchasing customers.
“The common thread has been bringing together local bookstores, authors, and readers, and tying in educating customers about how they can support the store by buying e-books via Kobo,” said Munroe.
Booksellers interested in hosting a Kobo Writing Life event in their store should contact Munroe at (646) 943-8200, ext. 52533, or via e-mail.