Publishing through Kobo, Step by Step

Visit the Kobo Writing Life site by clicking on the pic.

Yesterday, I talked about my first e-publishing experience. Today, I thought I’d walk you through it.

For my first venture into e-publishing, I’m going with Kobo Writing Life. I’m Canadian and Kobo the primary source for buying eBooks up here, and because I own a Kobo myself it seemed a natural first step. Kobo also has agreements to distribute your work to several different eBook sellers which—while it doesn’t yet include Amazon or iBooks—is growing quickly. Finally, Kobo also doesn’t hold you to rights, meaning I can upload the book to an aggregator and get it into other major retailers anyway.

Step One:

Do your research. You can find the FAQ here, and there’s a helpful User Guide once you sign up. Also, be sure to go over the Terms and Conditions. Know what you’re getting into; lots of people use this service and it’s in Kobo’s best interest to work to your best interest, but if you don’t know all the details you could get caught by surprise.

(I’ve gone through the T&C, and they’re solid–still, read them. For a horror story on why you should read Terms and Conditions as a writer, visit this link. They don’t have anything to do with Kobo, which is a fair and honest service!)

 Step Two: Rights.

Kobo requires that you own the digital rights to your work, but doesn’t claim rights to it. This means that they will let you distribute the book on your own, without their interference (as opposed to, say, Amazon KDP, which requires you sell only through them), as long as you own the rights. If it’s something you wrote yourself, you won the rights automatically, and it’s copyrighted. If it’s a book someone else wrote, you’ll want to make sure you get the rights…but we’re writers here, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Step Three: Your account.

Enter your contact information. One thing that caught me is the optional field for your Publisher name. Kobo encourages this if you’re an individual doing business under a different name, i.e. a publishing house. I’m not sure this is strictly necessary, but I imagine it would come in handy if you’re uploading books for which you own the rights, but haven’t written yourself; for example, there’s a (look up that company that does copyright fee books). I put my Publisher Name as Eloquent Eyes Books, a spin on the title of this blog.

Here is where you need to accept the Terms and Conditions, which, of course, is a requirement of signing up. If you don’t agree to the terms, you’ll need to go somewhere else. Now, we’re all guilty of just glossing over T&C forms in our haste to just install the software or whatever, but–at the risk of repeating myself–in this case you really need to familiarize yourself with them. You wouldn’t want to get your account suspended because you went against them, or find yourself in breach of contract somewhere. I would add some pertinent notes from the conditions, but one of the conditions is that I don’t publicly share them without their consent. So if you’re interested, check them out by signing up!

 Step Four: Payment Details.

Once you verify your email address, you’ll be asked to set up payment details. Go to Your Account, and a drop down menu will show you where you need to go. From here you can enter your banking information. Kobo pays you royalties on every book sold, depending on the price—if you fall between a certain price range and conditions, you’ll get 70% royalties; if it’s outside that range you get 25%. You’ll get paid by direct fund transfer into the account your specify about once an month-though Kobo will hold your payment if it’s less than $100 a month, in which case you’ll receive it at the end of six months. Kobo also notes that it may take as long as 45 days to receive payments, though I’m not sure why this is.

Step Five: Publish Your Book.

This is the fun part, and Kobo makes it painless. There’s a link that says “Create new ebook;” clicking on that will start you on a four step process. First you describe your book by adding a title, subtitle, and series name if applicable; writing a synopsis that will appear in the store; and giving your eISBN number. Purchasing an ISBN is the subject of another article–but note that if you’re a resident of Canada, you can get one for free through the government. You also put your book into a number of categories, which will help buyers find it by browsing through the store. Finally, you can add a cover–we’ll go over that in more detail in another post, but you’re basically just uploading a .jpeg that will show as the book cover in the store.

Next you upload the book–Kobo accepts a number of formats, and if you don’t upload it in an .epub file, they’ll convert it for you.Then you set the rights; you have the option to allow the sale of the book in other countries (though I don’t see why you’d restrict that), and whether or not you want DRM protection.

Finally, setting the price. Again, that’s a topic for another article; suffice it to say that you can set whatever you like, and Kobo will automatically convert currencies for you for sale in different countries. Or, you can set each country’s sale price individually–though again, I’m not sure why you’d want to. Note that the royalties you receive differ depending on the price you set–for example, if it’s less than $1.99 or more than $12.99 you only get 45% royalties; otherwise you get 70%.

*Also note that, for a limited time (until the end of November), Kobo is offering a bonus incentive: 80% royalties on all books within the range noted above.

And that’s it. Nice and simple–even as a guy who’s completely new to this e-publishing thing, I had no issues. I’ve also found the Kobo staff to be extremely helpful, and quick to answer questions via email. The only real negative I can give is that they don’t publish your book to Amazon, B&N, or iBooks–but really, they’re not an aggregator, and that would be outside the scope of their business, so you can’t fault them for it. They do put your book out internationally, so there’s still a lot of exposure–and there’s nothing preventing you from also uploading your book to Smashwords or LuLu.

So there we are! Next up, we’re back to my current project. I’m in the midst of professional editing now, so I want to take the next few articles to talk about that process. Stay tuned!

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