Publishing to Kobo is easy!

Now that my novel has come out of the KDP Select programme, I wanted to try and get ‘New Fire’ onto other platforms. I’ve mentioned before that Nook does not support authors outside of the USA. The Barnes and Noble decision to only allow US citizens to publish books is an odd one and I can only assume that they have no serious intention to compete for independent authors worldwide. They have either decided that the earnings from non-US authors would not justify the cost of setting up global payments, or they believe that only US citizens write worthwhile books! I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Happily, Kobo aren’t as myopic as Nook so they are able to pay to worldwide bank accounts. The Kobo portal for authors is WritingLife. Here, like Amazon, you create an account for yourself, type in some key metadata about your book, upload it and publish. Uploading was the only bit I struggled with. The Kobo step-by-step publishing process misleadingly states that it supports the upload of Word documents. It does not. I won’t bore you with details of the dozen attempts I made, using the pitifully lean instructions, to get Kobo to accept my Word document. Suffice to say that I ended up trying a blank document with one chapter heading and one line of prose. Kobo rejected it, and so, after scratching my head for a while, I turned my attention to the ePub format.

Microsoft Word does not publish to ePub yet, something they will surely seek to address before long! In the meantime, I cast around for tools to do the job. A company called Aspose offer an evaluation tool, ‘Word Express’ which seemed to work, but the licensing agreement suggested that I’d have to pay for a full copy in order to publish without fear of prosecution. Happily, before I could get a response from Aspose on the licence cost, I found Calibre, a free tool for managing your eLibrary.

Although Calibre does not convert directly from Word to ePub, the process is still pretty straightforward. It’s described here, but the interesting thing is that I had already done these exact same steps in order to publish to Kindle. Both Amazon and Calibre need you to take the following steps;

  1. make sure all your chapter headings are styled as ‘Heading 1’
  2. and then, save to HTML

So starting from the HTML version of ‘New Fire’ that I’d created prior to my Amazon upload, all I had to do was load that into Calibre, correct the title, upload the cover and press “Convert”. Voila! The resulting ePub file uploaded without problem to Kobo.

So in a few days time, my novel will be available on Kobo! Nook will remain out of reach until they decide that non-US authors are worthwhile and I’ll only upload to Sony when they don’t force me to hand over a proportion my royalties to Smashwords. Call me ‘newfashioned‘, but I refuse to be anything other than an indie author.

‘New Fire’ on Kobo

Bad Water – The Prologue

Hi folks,

This is what I have for the prologue of book two in the series ‘Aztec Elements’. See what you think!

1460 AD was a good year for the Aztec people. The year that they knew as Seven Flint saw continued expansion towards the east coast. The lowland jungles were rich in feathers and the rivers laden with gold that was not naturally abundant on the high plateau where their city lay. Exotic fruits and animals were caught, bought or plundered and taken back to Tenochtitlan, much to the wonder of its inhabitants. The people that lived in the jungles did so in small communities and there were very few that were big enough to offer any real resistance to the might of the Mexica army. This also made possible the acquisition and transportation of that other precious commodity, so vital to appease the gods, that of human souls.

With the success of his armies, Moctezuma’s popularity rose, but so too did his opinion of himself. Others, jealous of his power and less pleased with the developments, conspired to bring about change. Tlacaelel, focused on the enemy without, did not notice the threat to his half-brother that came from within.

Interview with Rose Edmunds, author of ‘Never Say Sorry’

This week, I’m delighted to be able to introduce an interview with fellow author Rose Edmunds. Rose’s first novel ‘Never Say Sorry’ was published last year and has great reviews on See ‘Never Say Sorry’.

‘Never Say Sorry’ is fast-paced ride through the murky world of corporate finance as a journalist, Claudia Knight, tries to get her first really big scoop about a pharmaceutical company that has suppressed an apparent cancer cure.

AztecElements: Rose, how are the book sales going?

Rose: retty well thanks Phil, considering this is my debut novel. The book went to reprint a few months ago and now is out in kindle format too.

AztecElements: Can you tell us how you’ve been using social media to promote your work?

Rose: Before the book launched I set up a website and also a Facebook author page . I am on Linkedin as well, but use that more to connect with contacts from my previous corporate life than to directly promote my book. It was only later on I progressed to Twitter – since I was a complete novice at social media I felt it was important not to take on too much at the outset. I’m planning to establish a blog shortly, and am stepping up my Goodreads presence too.

AztecElements: Is Twitter good for this sort of promotion?

Rose: Although I didn’t get onto Twitter until a few months ago, I’ve found it far and away the most useful social media tool. It’s very easy to build up a following on Twitter so you soon have a significant audience. It does however take time for this to convert into actual sales, and I’m only just beginning to see the benefits. As with any type of promotion, you have to invest some time to get results.

AztecElements: Are there any top tips you can share with us and pitfalls to look out for?

Rose: My main advice is don’t be a shrinking violet. Some people complain that it’s difficult to attract followers, but the key is to take the initiative and follow people first. Don’t waste time following celebrities who won’t follow you back, otherwise you will quickly hit the Twitter following limit of 2000 people, which you cannot exceed until a similar number of people follow you.

I recommend you follow around 50 new accounts per day of authors and other interesting people. The suggestions that Twitter makes are usually good. Be ruthless in unfollowing people who don’t follow you back within a couple of weeks – you can use or similar to keep on top of this. The way to build up followers is slow and steady – if you aggressively follow and unfollow large numbers of people at a time, Twitter will suspend you! This has never happened to me so I think my strategy is fine. And if people follow me first, I usually follow back, unless their content looks spammy or totally irrelevant.

It may sound obvious but you must tweet regularly, or people will unfollow you. It’s perfectly fine to tweet links to your book as long as you tweet other stuff as well. I find quotes, proverbs and weird facts go down well (see my twitter if you want some hints). And don’t forget, Twitter is a medium for conversing, so do reply to interesting tweets and chat to others!

If your followers retweet (RT) your posts to their followers, this is a powerful way to reach many more people than you would otherwise. The best way to get RTs is to start retweeting others – most will reciprocate. And always try to repay RTs in kind – don’t just thank the person. You will soon build up a loyal group who RT you on a daily basis.

Twitter can be very time consuming so it’s worth using a free program such as Hootsuite to preschedule your tweets (I preschedule around 6 a day). Then limit your time doing RTs etc. I spend about 1 hour a day on Twitter, but you could get by with less. But don’t worry – you’ll find you quickly get into a routine that suits you!

Finally, here’s a great tip I discovered. On Goodreads you can invite all your Twitter followers to join you. I did this and quickly gained around 1000 Goodreads friends!

AztecElements: I know you’re working on your second novel. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Where is it set and is it a sequel to the first book?

Rose: Again the theme is corporate morality and it’s set in a large (fictitious!) accountancy firm. It particularly puts the cosy boys’ club of the City under the microscope. My heroine is a successful professional whose life is thrown into turmoil when a young female colleague is murdered. Her boyfriend (another colleague) is quickly arrested but my heroine suspects they have the wrong man. Is the murder connected with a fraud at a client, or something more sinister? No one seems to care and my heroine has to dig deep to find the moral courage to get to the truth, while standing up to a bullying boss and confronting her own messy private life.

It’s somewhat darker than Never Say Sorry and therefore I’ve found it more difficult to write. The only direct connection between the two books is that Hugo, the feckless hero of Never Say Sorry, currently has a walk on part. But even I don’t know whether he will make it to the final cut!

AztecElements: Is there anything you’re going to do differently to promote the new book?

Rose: Not so much differently as better and sooner! Although everyone talks about word of mouth selling books, the reality is it’s very hard to get your book noticed among millions of others. When I started out with Never Say Sorry, I knew next to nothing about book promotion, so I’ve been learning as I’ve gone along. Next time I’ll put all the knowledge I’ve gained to good use. In the run up to publication, I’ll get some PR buzz going and will be tweeting and posting on Facebook relentlessly. With hindsight I wish I’d built up my Twitter following before Never Say Sorry came out, but this time that’s all in place, and I’m already tweeting bits about the writing process to get people interested. I will also make much better use of Goodreads now I’m on there. One thing I’ll definitely do the same is the launch party. A good knees-up is essential to get a book off to a flying start and needn’t cost the earth. I held the launch for Never Say Sorry in a pub, purchased the books at a large discount from my publisher and then sold them on at full price. The profit covered most of the cost of the party and everyone had a great time too!

AztecElements: Many thanks Rose and good luck. We’ll keep tabs on your progress on your website and twitter feed @roseedmunds


3 free, signed copies of ‘New Fire’

To enter the competition to win a signed copy of ‘New Fire’, leave a comment here explaining why you deserve a free copy. Competition closes 28th of Feb 2013. Judges decision is final. Submissions on other social media sites are also being taken into consideration but the winning three entries will be posted on this site.