Chris A. Baird | September 11, 2023
Kobo Self Publishing - All You Need to Know

So, you're looking to publish your ebook but outside of Amazon. You may even do it in addition to being on Amazon. But where should you go? Well, this is why we're going to discuss Kobo. 

In today's topic, we are going to talk about Kobo self-publishing - all you need to know. So let's get right on into it. What is Kobo? Now, one thing I do want to say with Kobo is it's the Word book but they just switch the letters around.

I thought since the company was originally Canadian but I thought since it had connections to Japan, it may have been some sort of a Japanese Word. But in reality, it was just the mixing up of the letters book to created the word Kobo in 2000. 

Kobo's History

So, Kobo's history in 2009. Kobo was founded as an e-reading platform and an e-book retailer by Indigo Books and Music. It was a Canadian bookstore chain. So that's back in 2009.

It has started to gain massive popularity and started introducing its first e-reader the Kobo e-reader in 2010 which is traced pretty close to the Kindle device. Which I have used over the years until I moved over to using an iPhone.

But it featured an e-ink and allowed readers to enjoy a paper-like reading experience. Now, in 2012, it was required by Rukiten, a Japanese e-commerce company so that just gives you a little bit of the idea with this purchase/acquisition.

It brought International recognition and resources to Kobo. It was able to drastically expand what it was doing. And since then, with a whole wide range of e-reading devices.

Kobo's Market Reach and Influence

So Kobo's market reach and influence expanded. Being founded in 2009, what happened was it started to expand as we were saying it was done by Michael Sir Benis was the name of the person who did it.

After its acquisition, we started to see massive market growth. Now, nothing as big as Amazon, we have to keep that in mind. But it has had a huge amount of influence, so there's not any way you're going to have a self-publishing talk that's not going to bring Kobo as one of the major players in the self-publishing area.

Since that point, it's continued to expand where it has the e-books, audiobooks, magazines, and a lot more that it has offered. The one thing you noticed it didn't have in that is the paperback books. So it does not go into the paperback area but in terms of these other ones, it has. 

Why Choose Kobo for Self-Publishing?

So, why choose Kobo for self-publishing? 

Unique Features and Benefits of Kobo

Well, the first thing is the unique features and benefits of Kobo. You have this wide selection of ebooks and digital content, so that's the first thing. It has a really large audience of people who are doing it. The selection is really large and that makes people tempted to check it out.

It's got a customizable reading experience where people can change the sizes of fonts, colors, styles, and things like that on the Kobo devices. They have seamless integration and convenience and it works across devices. So, if you start reading on your laptop, you can move it over to the Kobo device. It'll keep track of where you're at.

Now, one thing to remember here is that your Kindle will as well do. So one of the big things I like with Kobo as we're going to be getting into, it's going to be dealing with the distribution channels pricing options. Those are some of the main reasons why Kobo is something to consider. 

Comparisons with Other Self-Publishing Platforms

So comparisons with other self-publishing platforms. The first thing is you have those global distribution networks that are going to help you get your thing into numerous retailers as well as libraries worldwide.

With this massive audience that they have and the outlets that they have, this distribution channel is something to consider if you're going with Kobo. The other thing is that author-friendly royalty rates, give you high royalty rates. Now, not anything particularly higher than what you're getting on Amazon.

But we're not stuck on the Amazon platform and they've been doing a lot of crazy stuff lately. That's getting people warnings, banning accounts, and things like that. So it's always important to make sure you diversify with your books. Kobo is something you can consider with that and the flexibility they give you with the pricing options that they have.

 Check out this related article: Book Templates For Self Publishing

The next is the reader-centric community. It's got this huge community of readers who love the platform, and love all of the books and the content that they have available. There's a lot of interaction with the author as well. So, this gives a huge amount of possibilities and opportunities for self-published authors when they're putting their books out onto the market.

Kobo's Self-Publishing Platform: Kobo Writing Life

So, Kobo's self-publishing platform: Kobo writing life. 

Introduction to Kobo Writing Life

Now introduction to Kobo writing life, let's get right on into it. The self-publishing platform for authors is what Kobo Writing Life is. It's a platform designed for authors who want to publish and distribute their ebooks globally and specifically on Kobo. It has an easy and user-friendly interface.

So it makes it easy to get in there for uploading your books and publishing your ebooks. You're able to control all the various aspects of your ebook including cover design and the pricing and metadata all from a single great location. You get the global reach and distribution. You're able to control and choose the direction that your book's going to go. 

Feature Breakdown of Kobo Writing Life

So, feature a breakdown of Kobo Writing Life. What exactly are we going to get? The first thing is the book publishing and management tools. It has a whole bunch of tools making it very easy as we were commenting with regards to your book covers and all of these things.

To make sure that everything, you've designed the layout and the pricing, all of these things are exactly set to meet your needs. In addition, we're going to see the sales and royalty tracking. So, it's going to have all of this that's going to make it easy to see how many sales we're making. How often we're making and we get that again like global distribution network.

So it's going to be able to push it through these major retailers including Kobo's online store where they have it and libraries and distribution channels. So you're going to be able to reach a whole bunch of countries giving you maximal global distribution. The potential is massive there, right?

How to Self-Publish with Kobo: A Step-by-Step Guide

But how to self-publish with Kobo: a step-by-step guide?

Step 1: Setting up Your Kobo Writing Life Account

Now that's the next thing we're going to hit and our very first step is going to be setting up your Kobo writing life accounts. The first thing you're going to do is you're going to go into their platform.

You just need an email address. It is really for the starting point and you're going to click on the signup and create account button. Then you'll be given all of the questions you need to get your account started.

The next is your profile and author information, they need to know a little bit about who you are. Your author's bio, author's photo, all of these links to your website your social media, and all of these things. Making it easy for readers to find out more about you and then you need a manuscript in the book details.

So you're going to put your book on there. You're going to be taking the book itself, you're going to be uploading it making sure it's in the right format. You can use their pre-designed templates to help you with the cover to make sure you have all of these details in place. Then upload it to the platform. 

Step 2: Preparing Your Manuscript for Kobo

Step two preparing your manuscript for Kobo. So the first thing is you need to follow their formatting guidelines. There's a whole series of things that need to be in place to make sure that your text is in the right font.

Now, I personally when you're formatting I would recommend you check out my Book Formatting Made Easy Course. It will show you exactly how to get your books into the Epub format. So you can upload it right and easily to the Kobo platform without any challenge at all. 

With another click, it'll give you the paperback version. You can put it onto IngramSpark, Lulu, or Amazon whichever or all three platforms that you like. So, you want to check that out. I’ll show you how to use the tool Jutoh and that's my favorite formatting tool. 

This one's worked for me and for all of my VAs and the clients that I've had over, the students who've gone through the course. It works fine you just have to go back and forth a bit like any tool, There's a learning curve.

Then you have proofreading and editing is the next thing you're going to need to do for your book. Make sure that you run it through, I've had some clients recently ask Well where should have this done? The answer is you can go through Fiverr or Upwork. 

You can have your friends or if you know anybody who's a professional editor that would be fantastic. You can sometimes trade services, other people who read your book can do it. You can also use some of your readers on your email list if you have an email list to proofread and give you an idea of changes that need to be made or mistakes.

In addition, you can use something, tools like Grammarly to go through there which you should be using for absolutely free. It will tell you everything you need to know how to get this working and for the premium version, it'll connect to Word and other things. It's an amazing program. 

Then finally, you have the conversion to ebook format and that's the reason why I told you before you're going to want to have it in the Epub format with Jutoh. Checking out the Book Formatting Course will show you exactly how to do that. So it gets ready, you can put it straight on into Kobo. 

Step 3: Uploading and Formatting Your eBook

Step three, uploading and formatting your ebook. So, once you have it, you just go to the file upload area under the ebook section. And you're just going to be able to click that and as long as it's an Epub format like we just discussed, you're going to be able to do it after you did the upload.

You're going to be able to see the preview and review page which is going to show you exactly where you can sort of flip through the book and get an idea of how everything looks. Just to make sure it's all looking great.

Then we're going to update our metadata and book descriptions for our book to make sure that that is under control. And that they have all of the details necessary to find our book through the organic keywords that they may be searching for. Also to find out more information about our book. We want to get our book into the hands of as many ideal readers as possible. 

Step 4: Setting the Price and Choosing Distribution Channels

Step four, setting the price and choosing distribution channels. The first thing is there are a lot of pricing options that you have available. So you need to figure out what are the prices based upon how much of the royalty is going to be for you.

Also looking at prices of similarly priced bestseller books in your category. What prices are they doing? So that your books are not priced too high or too low, is usually the main problem for most authors. Then distribution channels, you're going to be able to choose from all of the different distribution channels.

I recommend you say yes to all of them, we want this book in as many stores as humanly possible. Then we have the royalty rates and territories, you're going to want to choose maximum royalty rates. I like the price of $2.99 for ebooks and we want to make sure it's available in every country humanly possible. So we give our readers the maximum ability to purchase our book. 

Step 5: Publishing Your eBook

Moving along step five, publishing your ebooks. You’ve prepared and formatted your ebooks. You've got that into the right format, you chose the publishing platform and you've created an engaging cover and book description. So we're able to upload all of that onto the platform and we click the publish button. 

Check out this related article: Free Self Publishing Websites

Understanding Pricing and Royalties on Kobo

At this point, we're now ready for the next step understanding pricing and royalties on Kobo which is very important. 

How to Set Prices

So how do prices set prices? The first thing is you're going to research the market. We were talking about looking at the bestsellers in the market. I personally again like the $2.99 price. You're going to calculate the cost and profit margins keeping in mind on Kobo you can actually price it down to 99 Cents and still get the 70% rate just like Amazon does up to $9.99.

They do this for a reason if you price too much higher, you're going to decrease the sales that are coming through. Then you're going to test and adjust it if you see lots of sales coming, you may consider bumping the price up a little bit.

If you're not getting any sales at your price, you might consider lowering the price a little bit. We play with things, we do lots of experiments with self-publishing. That's one of the ways that we figure out what is the most efficient way of working through these steps. Check out my free Checklist to show you exactly those steps that are necessary.

Understanding Kobo's Royalty Structure

Then understanding Kobo's royalty structures we're accommodating. You can go from 99 Cents up to $9.99 and you'll still get that 70% royalty rate. However, if you go over $9.99, your royalty rate will drop to 45%. So, for goodness sake folks, do not go over $9.99 and this is going to kill you.

You do not need to leave money on the table. So just do it, they force you to do this for a reason. They know you're going to make more money at the lower rates and they want to make more money. So, do everyone a favor and make sure your book is priced between 99 Cents and $9.99.

Now, I do not recommend 99 Cents, I recommend setting it around $2.99 because then it competes with Amazon's books as well as being at the lower end of the range. People are naturally inclined to purchase books around that price. You should consider the impact of Kobo's pricing and currency adjustments.

Remember, when you set your prices there, they may adjust them based on the currencies. I prefer mine to end at 99 cents; it tends to motivate people to purchase the book and makes it appear that you've put more thought into the pricing issue. So definitely give that a shot.

You also need to understand the payment threshold and payment schedule. Keep in mind that unless you've earned $50 in royalties, they won't pay you anything. Payments are processed at the end of the calendar month when the earnings reach that threshold. This occurs 45 days after the end of the calendar month in which you made the sale.

At that point, they will make the payout to you. It's essential to keep track of this to avoid overspending on advertisements and other expenses. You should be aware that while the money is indeed coming in, you shouldn't be overly concerned about receiving it immediately.

They need to give people a chance to change their minds on their purchases. Perhaps someone wants a refund; they change their mind, and that's something that may indeed happen to you. 

Managing Taxes and Payment

Managing taxes and payments is crucial. First, you need to figure out your tax obligations. It can be helpful to consult with a lawyer or an accountant to ensure that you're paying all the necessary value-added taxes and other taxes based on the sales that are happening.

Additionally, you should keep all your receipts and records organized. So, you have all your costs on one side, and you have all your royalties coming in on the other side. We don't want to lose money in this endeavor. As the money starts to grow, and the amount coming in increases, you should probably consider hiring an accountant at some point to handle this.

Check out this related article: Exercises for Improving Your Self-Publishing

Also, consider using payment platforms with tax management features; it's another option you should explore. These platforms are already capable of taking control over many aspects for you since they're selling the books. However, you will still be required to file the taxes and ensure you're not losing money.

Marketing Your eBook on Kobo

Now, let's talk about marketing your ebook on Kobo. 

Kobo's Promotional Opportunities

The first thing to remember is Kobo's promotional opportunities, and they have a couple of them. Kobo Writing Life Promotions offers various options, including setting your book to go for free for a day. You want to take advantage of these opportunities and thoroughly explore the offers they have available.

You can find this information under the Kobo Promotions tab. By participating in their promotional events, you'll receive additional marketing support for your goals on the platform. So, it's something you want to consider. You can also explore collaboration opportunities with Kobo Writing Life itself.

You can write to them and ask if there's any way you can do interviews with me, or I can talk about the book. They will probably display your book and provide backlinks to your website if you'd like on their website. This is fantastic because it will drive additional readers to discover you, which is your number one challenge—being discovered. You can go from there.

So, if you're going to be doing it on their platform at all, you should consider doing it in such a way that you'll be maximizing the amount of traffic you're getting. 

External Marketing Strategies

The second thing to remember is external marketing strategies. You need to establish an online presence. That means you're going to have a blog. Maybe you're going to produce content like YouTube videos, or a podcast, or perhaps you'll create short content on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, or Twitter. 

On these platforms, you'll want to share your short-form videos, blogs, and podcasts. There are all sorts of options available, and you'll be able to push them across to social media to engage with your target readers and provide as much value as possible.

Also, leverage email marketing as you progress. This is something you should probably start early in the process. These people will be informed for free about your latest book, and they can help you get reviews on your books.

They may click on your content, they may look at categories, so make sure that all of these things are aligned for typical audience searches. This is something I spend most of my time on with my clients, both one-on-one and group coaching clients, as we go through and examine specific keywords.

Determining whether or not these keywords will be profitable is crucial. The second thing is that you should engage with the Kobo Community. You want to ensure that you're actively communicating with them because you're going to learn a lot of valuable information from these forums.

You can find out what's currently popular, what people are purchasing, and the strategies they're employing. To excel, you should leverage Kobo's promotional tools. They offer a wide range of options within the platform itself, so it's essential to familiarize yourself with all the different aspects of what they offer.

Tips for Success on Kobo

In conclusion, you can see that Kobo has a lot to offer a self-published author. If you aspire to become self-published and want your ebooks to have extensive distribution through a respected company that even reaches libraries, Kobo is an excellent platform to consider.

You can upload your book, and get it formatted correctly, and once everything is in order, you'll start making money while you sleep on the ebook platform. If you desire better control over pricing strategies than what Amazon offers, Kobo is the platform to consider, along with its array of promotional tools.

Interestingly, some people harbor less negative sentiment toward Kobo compared to Amazon, given Amazon's status as a large corporation. Nonetheless, I still recommend aiming for Amazon, but Kobo should be on your list of platforms to consider.

Suppose you want to explore additional distribution channels, especially for your ebook, which won't be available through publishing on KDP. In that case, Kobo becomes a compelling choice.

My question for you today: Have you ever published a book through Kobo? If you have, please respond with "yes" in the comments below. If you haven't, reply with "no." And don't forget to check out my other blogs and videos for more answers to your self-publishing questions.

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