Interview with Michael Tamblyn on Kobo Writing Life and International Expansion

The biggest news of the day was the official unveiling of the new self-publishing program from Kobo, entitled “Writing Life.” This program will allow authors to submit books in various formats and have them optimized to EPUB format. The big selling point of this new system is the deep analytics it provides for authors to track their sales in real time. If people review the book on popular websites such as Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook, the author is instantly notified about it.

Before Writing Life was officially announced, we sat down with Mark Lefbvre, who is them man in charge of Writing Life. Also attending the preview of this new program were notable authors, such as Bella Andre and Kevin J Anderson. These fine folks were a part of the beta testing program and contributed a number of suggestions that managed to make it into the current build. They shared their opinions of self-publishing and how these real time tools would be able to help them gauge whether a certain marketing tool helped them garner more sales.

Kevin J. Anderson mentioned that he often flies out to certain cities to promote his books and is never sure whether these trips would have a spike in book sales. Most companies only offer quarterly or monthly reports that give you only the most basic sales information. The Kobo Writing Life Dashboard is very intuitive and gives you all sales numbers in real time. This process is akin to how stock traders are able to see how stocks are changing. Authors can benefit from this, and they can even try different cover art designs and see if it directly affects the sales.

Writing Life is proving to be a great tool, unlike anything else on the market. If you are new to self-publishing, there is a new “learning center” which will teach you about proper formatting, cover art, and how to get an ISBN number. They are marketing the platform as a tool to give you a global reach. If you want to market your books in all the countries Kobo supports, you are free to do so. You can even set different prices per country, so if you want to offer a book for 0.99 in the USA, you can charge 1.99 in the UK and 2.99 in Germany. eBook pricing is an unknown art, so with the monitoring tools you can find the sweet spot. If you want, you can even give a book away for free.

Kobo is very international, in over 180 different countries and is seeing tremendous growth in Spain, France, Germany, and other major European Markets. More than ever, you want to publish in as many markets as you can. If you live in France and write a book in French, you can market this book to French speaking people all over the world.

After the official unveiling, we spoke with EVP of Content and Merchandising, Michael Tamblyn. He expanded upon what Writing Life is all about. We also talked about their international expansion and which markets are performing better than others. We dive into what the Rakuten deal means to Kobo and how China plays into the picture. Finally, we shed some light on Kobo Pulse for their Touch e-Reader and what new hardware we can look forward to in 2012.

Michael Kozlowski (5132 Posts)

Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about electronic readers and technology for the last four years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the Huffington Post, CNET and more. Michael frequently travels to international events such as IFA, Computex, CES, Book Expo and a myriad of others. If you have any questions about any of his articles, please send an email to