So today I uploaded my first eBook to Kobo Writing Life, Kobo’s self-publishing tool. I am going to be sharing my 2020 publishing journey every step of the way here on my blog. This afternoon I decided to sit down and record my experience for my own future reference, and share some insights on here for those of you out there who either haven’t heard of Kobo Writing Life, or have and are yet to use it.
So, first you need to sign up for a Kobo Writing Life account. You have the option to select an ‘Individual’ or ‘Publisher’ account. I selected Individual, but still listed my publishing imprint Pineapple Publishing in the ‘Imprint’ field when setting up my title (more on that later).
Here is a video about how to sign up for a Kobo Writers Life account:
Once you have your account set up, you can start uploading new titles.
Describe the eBook
In the Describe the eBook section, I entered my own name in the Author(s) field, and the name of my imprint (Pineapple Publishing) in the Publisher name field. I also put Pineapple Publishing in the designated Imprint field, but this field is optional, so you do not need to fill this in if you do not have an imprint.
On this page you will also enter your eISBN, if you have bought one. Like KDP, Kobo offer the option of using one of their eISBNs, but if it is like KDP, that ISBN can only be used on Kobo. If you have bought your own ISBNs, you can use the same one for your eBook, across all publishing platforms.
You will then select your Categories and Subcategories (Fiction, non-fiction etc). I found the Fiction Categories offered on Kobo to be quite limited. For example, there was no Historical Fiction subgenre, so as a result I have actually had to list The Wilted Rose as a nonfiction book to be able to access the Historical subgenre, as well as a few other subgenres that aren’t available to fiction titles.
Add eBook Content
The cover and interior file upload process was fairly straightforward. One thing I discovered is that Kobo does not offer a preview of your eBook the way Kindle Direct Publishing does. For those that are not familiar with this preview facility, let me explain.
On KDP you are able to view your interior file prior to publishing. KDP opens what looks like a Kindle device on your screen, and you can view the file exactly how it will appear on the reader’s eBook reading device.
Kobo does not have this facility. You can download an ePub file onto your computer, but you need to have an app installed that you can use to view the file. I started with downloading the free ePub Reader app from the Microsoft store, but it literally did nothing for me when I opened it. A friend recommended an app called Calibre, which cost under $2 AUD. Calibre converted my file to ePub and allowed me to preview it and save the file to my computer. It was very user friendly, and I highly recommend it.
Set the Licence and Geographic Rights
Here you will be asked to select ‘Apply Digital Rights Management’. DRM locks a file so that only the person who purchased it can view it, and only on the device or app from that vendor. In other words, if the reader buys your book on Kobo, they can only read it on their Kobo eReader or Kobo app. Not only that, but they cannot share the book with others, even if they have the same device.
Readers are limited on how many of their devices they can download the same ebook to at a time, and they cannot print the book (if they can, it will have a watermark or will only allow them to print a small part of it).
For now , I have deselected this option, as I’d like my book to be available in as many ways as possible. But it is up to you what you select here.
You will also have the option to enrol your title in Kobo Plus. Kobo Plus is a monthly subscription program similar to KDP Select/Unlimited. However, unlike KDP Select where you are not allowed to offer the eBook for sale anywhere else, with Kobo Plus you can have your book published elsewhere while it is enrolled in Kobo Plus. The only condition is that your book will be available through the Kobo Plus program for 90 days.
You will then be asked if you would like to make your book available to libraries. This feature seems to be similar to the Expanded Distribution option offered through KDP. But what I found to be really cool about this option is that through OverDrive’s catalogue, I could actually view the libraries here in Queensland where my eBook title would be available.
You will also be asked to list a Library price. This price is supposed to be higher than your retail price. The retail price for my book is $2.99, so for now I have this library price at $3.99.
Set the Price
You will then be prompted to enter the list price for you eBook. For The Wilted Rose, I have set the price at $2.99 AUD (another cool feature, that I can view the retail price in my own currency). In the past I have generally priced my books at $2.99 for novellas/novels/short story collections, and 99c for individual short stories.
Now you’re pretty much ready to publish!
I hope this post has been helpful, for those of you out there who either haven’t heard of Kobo Writing Life, or have and are yet to use it. If you have, I’d be very interested to hear about your experiences in the comments!