Hi there 👋,

Welcome to the third episode in this “selling wide” series! If you missed the first two, or if you subscribed to Reedsy recently and didn’t get them, I’m basically exploring the world outside Amazon and offering tips on how to optimize sales and visibility on the other stores. Here are the links to the previous episodes:
  1. How visibility works on iBooks, Kobo, B&N & Google Play

  2. How to sell more on iBooks

Today I’m going to focus exclusively on Kobo. Though their presence in the US is so far very limited (they’re the #5 store only in terms of market share), they have a strong international presence, starting with their home country, Canada (where they’re the 2nd biggest online store).

You can distribute to Kobo through their proprietary publishing platform, Kobo Writing Life, or through an aggregator (e.g. Draft2Digital).

Pre-orders & royalties: the iBooks model

Kobo has a lot in common with iBooks when it comes to pricing and royalties. Namely:

  • Kobo and iBooks readers tend to be less price-sensitive than Amazon readers (see graph below);

  • They both offer 70% royalties on books priced above $9.99;

  • They both have a model where pre-order sales count twice (towards bestseller ranks).

I won’t explore these again today since you can basically apply my suggestions from last week (about iBooks) to Kobo. I’ll say this though: don’t forget that merchandising teams are always looking to promote exclusive deals to their audience.

So if you sell your $14.99 box set only on iBooks or only on Kobo, you’ll have a higher chance of getting it merch’d.

Kobo’s international focus

The main characteristic of Kobo as an e-retailer is its international presence. It contrasts strongly with retailers like Barnes & Noble (Nook) who are 100% US-centric.

Kobo has built a network of retail partners all over the world which allows it to distribute ebooks in almost every country. While you shouldn’t expect to see thousands of sales from non-English-speaking countries, it can sometimes be a nice ego-boost to learn that you’ve just sold a copy in Iceland.
Kobo Sales Map | Source:

More importantly, it means that you need to adapt your pricing to an international audience. Both Kobo Writing Life and Draft2Digital have options for you to set your ebook’s price in every currency. Take advantage of those to ensure you have “sexy” prices in every currency (i.e. something ending in .99).

If you’re interested in upping your international game, we have a free in-depth course on international pricing as part of Reedsy Learning. Check it out here.

Merchandising and promotions

One crucial aspect of Kobo is that it’s, by far, the store with the most approachable people. You’ll find Kobo Writing Life reps at almost every major conference in your genre, and they’re always open to talking about promos or optimizing your visibility on their store — even if you don’t distribute to Kobo via their platform. 

There are some advantages to distributing to Kobo through Kobo Writing Life (KWL) rather than an aggregator, though. The main one is that KWL gives you access to a “promotions” tab where the team regularly posts promotion opportunities (e.g. “Beach reads sale”, “the very best in saga fiction under $2.99, etc.). Most of these will require you to drop your price but, in return, they will bring you a lot of visibility if your book is selected.

You can learn more about the Kobo team and their promotions tab in our special Reedsy Learning course Kobo Hacks for Optimizing Sales (also free). It was put together by Mark Leslie Lefebvre. He’s the former Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations for Kobo, so he really knows what he’s talking about.


Final tips

Now, aside from strongly urging you check out that free course if you’re serious about increasing your sales on Kobo, I’ll leave you with some final tips:

Take control of your series metadata

Kobo offers an easy way to link your series books together. When uploading your book through KWL, you can indicate a “series title” and a “volume number”. Don’t forget to fill those in, as series are often good targets for merchandising teams and promotions.

If you have a free novella as a prequel, you can link it to the series by setting its volume number to “0”. And if you have short reads as interquels, you can use decimals in the volume number as well (e.g. 1.5, 2.5, etc.). More about this on KWL’s blog.

Target 'Kobo ereaders' on Facebook ads

Just as you can target Facebook ads directly to iBooks readers by selecting “iBooks” as an interest, you can laser-target Kobo readers all around the world using Facebook’s Kobo ereader interest.

There’s no magic Kobo secret that will turn your book into an overnight success. But bearing in mind the royalties advantage, the potential for getting your books featured, and their recently announced partnership with Walmart eBooks (which Kobo’s Toronto team likely also merchandise), working with Kobo should be on the to-do list of any serious self-publisher.

Until next week (when I’ll dig into the Nooks and crannies of Barnes & Noble),

Ricardo, Founder @ Reedsy

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