Kobo’s Writing Life: The Long Awaited Self-Publishing Portal
We’ve been publishing Cool Gus eBooks with Kobo for over two years. We applied for an account, signed the documents and began sending our eBooks via FileZila (an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program). We also set up tab-delineated spreadsheets to send our metadata over through the FTP. When I explained this process to Bob I gave him a killer headache.
It’s really not a difficult process. Once you set up the account on FileZila you simply connect. Once connected, you find the appropriate files and drag and drop them over to the Kobo side. You have to have your ePub file saved by ISBN and same goes with your jpeg. They have certain specs that are required, so it was important that I read through all the documentation they sent me. I create a separate eBook file for each platform, so it wasn’t really a big deal to make another one for Kobo and save it under the ISBN. To load to Kobo this way, it took me maybe 40 minutes. That doesn’t include creating the ePub file.
There are, however, some glitches in the old system with Kobo. The spreadsheet has to be just so, or it hangs up their system and your metadata does not get through. When I change metadata, I also have to send an email to their changes department. With this system, there is no dashboard, so I really can’t see what is going on with each book. And I have to wait a month or so before I know the sales numbers for al our author’s books.
But for us, it was better than using Smashwords. While I think Smashwords has an excellent system, they have their own set of faults that frankly out weigh the positives of finding ways to load eBooks myself to all platforms.
Back to Kobo. Last week I got to hang out with the staff at Kobo at BEA. See my post here. What a blast. Everyone was so much fun and energetic. The excitement was palpable. It was also contagious. I’ve been waiting a year for this portal. I’ve been hearing about it for a while and my first thought was, well, its about time! Perhaps a little late to the party. Better late than never.
I spoke with Mark Lefebvre, the Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations at BEA and I loved what he had to say. They are all about authors and readers. They understand that we want our books across as many platforms as possible and they respect an author’s decision to try different things. But they also knew it was hard for an author to get their books into Kobo and control their pricing, metadata, etc. That’s where Writing Life comes.
I got the email on Friday after BEA giving me access to the beta test of the new Kobo Portal. I had a book from an author to load, so I immediately said why not try it this way. The portal was very easy to use. I simply added my information and hit publish. It’s very much like some of the other dashboards, but it has a few neat things that I can access, like sales trends. I can also access hourly sales numbers. Something I couldn’t do before.
There are 4 basic pages with information that needs to be filled out for your eBook. It took me 10 minutes to load the first book and it appeared in the bookstore less than a day later. I made a mistake in one of the books that I loaded and the change, after I fixed it, took only about an hour. So far, I have loaded two books via the new portal: A Compromising Situation and a Dangerous Compromise by Shannon Donnelly. Check them out! I will be loading her third in the series when I’m done with this blog post.
There are a few things I’d like to see changed in the portal. There needs to be more category choices. For example, when loading one of my books the option for “Romantic Suspense” is not an option. There are actually only four options under Romance. This needs to be change. They do, however, let you choose 3 categories. I believe that is a good number. 3-5 is perfect. But just as a small piece of advice, if you book only fits in 3 categories on B&N where you get 5, don’t just go pick 2 more because you can. That will upset readers. And Readers Rule.
Writing Life is a work in progress, but I really do believe that once more authors are on there we will all see a spike in sales. Kobo has a strong reputation, especially in Canada, which for me is only an hour and half drive. Hockey anyone? Eh? Got to love Canada!