Kobo Writing Life

There’s a new kid in town. He’s packing some heavy guns, but wears fancy clothes. Kobo is his name, easy independent publishing is his game.

It launched yesterday to little fanfare – it’s in beta, and you had to register your interest beforehand to learn of the launch, but I predict it’s going to grow fast. Kobo is relatively big in the UK – second biggest after Kindle, I believe, with WH Smith’s support – and quite big in Asia. Getting past Nook in the US is probably out of its league for now, but it may get there in the end if they keep up the good work.

Getting your book out on Kobo is the easiest, smoothest experience so far. It’s on the exact opposite of the Google Books nightmare, and quite ahead of KDP in terms of aesthetics and ease of use. Kobo is using all the latest tricks in website design, and is the first platform to look like it was created in the 2010’s and not the early 1990’s.

Just look at this neat author dashboard:

It looks like something straight out of Windows Metro interface. Nice, easy, at a glance information.

To get started, just go to your eBooks tab and press “Create new eBook” button.

There will be only four simple screens to go through: one is where you set up your book description, details and cover. There is a minor glitch here that says ‘You can’t use HTML in book description’ – but it’s a lie. Just ignore it and move on. You will find yourself at the next screen:

Kobo claims it automatically converts all sorts of files to epub, without any input on your side. This is very neat, if it works. I had my book in an epub already, so did not really have an opportunity to test it much – but I’ve tried conversion from Kindle-ready mobi and it worked just fine.

The next screen is for your rights management. Again, simple and easy. Click off the Digital Rights Management if you respect your readers 🙂 Ticking off the Worldwide Rights gives us a view on all the market Kobo is currently present at. Surprisingly missing is Japan, considering Kobo is owned by Rakuten. I hope this is just temporary.

The last screen is price-setting – this is almost the same as on KDP, but dressed in the pretty interface.

When all this is done, just click Publish. The turnaround right now is very fast – probably because there’s not much interest in the platform yet. I had my books up and running in about an hour, and another half an hour before they became searchable on Kobobooks.com. There was one more nice surprise waiting when I found my book:

The book already had five star rating! Yes, Kobo imports the ratings from Goodreads. At last, Goodreads are useful 🙂

And that’s all there is to it. Once you have a cover and any sort of formatted text file, it takes about 5-10 minutes to complete the publishing process. This is by far the most convenient self-publishing platform I’ve ever seen. Here’s hoping it will be a great success it deserves.

By the way, “The Shadow of Black Wings” on Kobo is available here.

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5 thoughts on “Kobo Writing Life

  1. This looks incredibly useful and easy. I love when things move in that direction. Thanks for the pics too!

    “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

  2. James, do you know if the Goodreads reviews migrate automatically? My book, Redemption, went live on Kobo in no time at all, but none of the Goodreads info is visible yet. Thanks!

    1. I got mine transported automatically. Do you have an ‘ebook’ edition on Goodreads apart from ‘Kindle’ edition? I think the ‘ebook’ edition is tailored specifically for Kobo (it’s the only one where ‘Kobo’ link works) so the reviews may be transferred from there.

      1. Thanks. That might be it. Right now, I’m not selling ebooks directly from Goodreads, though Redemption is available from other sites.

  3. James, really appreciate your drawing Kobo to our attention in this way. Am on KDP Select for the first 90 days but after that, it’s time to start exploring the Kobo and Nook options too. Luckily, we are already on Goodreads so will concentrate now on building up the profile there.

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