Publishing Fear Free

Kobo No Go?

Making books free at Kobo? So far, crickets.
Making books free at Kobo? So far, crickets.

One of the most difficult aspects of being an indie publisher is finding ways to ensure that readers see your books. Marketing isn’t about forcing someone to buy something; it’s about putting the option in front of them and letting them choose whether or not they are interested in exchanging their money for the product.

As I mentioned in my previous post about not marketing in 2013, it has become increasingly difficult to get my books in front of potential readers. All the experts have been advising not spending marketing money and instead allowing the internal marketing of retailers to do the work for you.

But what happens when the internal marketing isn’t doing its part? One of the advantages of selling directly through Kobo was supposed to be the internal marketing. And I’ve read lots of reviews by bigger name indies touting just this benefit. “My books are being seen! I’m selling tons! Kobo is better than BN for internal marketing!”

What I have discovered is that most of these successful Kobo authors have received some sort of “special” promotion beyond the norm from Kobo. Their free books have been listed on special “free ebook lists” or they have been advertised on email or special catalogs. I haven’t had these benefits, and literally, I cannot give my books away at Kobo.

Charlotte Collins and Death Benefits, my two most successful freebies on Amazon, have been free for 8 days on Kobo. The response:


I know my books are not inherently unlikable. They are highly reviewed at all venues, and the Southern Fraud series has sold almost 60,000 copies to date. In addition, I’ve had huge success with them as free titles at Amazon, and it only takes 12 hours for the downloads to cross into the thousands there. As far as social media marketing, I haven’t done anything differently. I’ve done the same marketing as I do for other sales outlets. I’ve Facebooked, I’ve tweeted, I’ve blogged. I don’t know how to reach Kobo readers. I’d love tips if you have any!

In fiddling around on Kobo, I discovered that my books were not listed on the “free ebooks list,” and when I emailed Kobo, I was informed that the list is only for selected titles, not all free titles are listed there. Okay, that’s fine. It’s their company, and they can highlight whatever titles they want.

My complaint is the same as it has been about BN in the past: unless readers know my books are there, they are unfindable. You can’t search “free books” and find my books. And unless you search my name, book title, or go to the very end of the categories in which my books are listed, you won’t just happen across them. In theory, if I sold a book or two, I would have a fighting chance at being seen. But it’s a vicious circle. I can’t be found, so no one will buy, so I can’t be found. That’s why I elected to make two titles free. I thought it would help the books be seen. Unfortunately, that has not been my experience.

In short, I haven’t seen any benefits from Kobo’s internal marketing.


2 thoughts on “Kobo No Go?

  1. Jennifer, This is good to know. Although I’m on both Kindle and Nook, 95% of my sales come through Kindle. It’s hard to get excited about B&N, but I stick with it as a courtesy to my readers. But I can’t see going the extra mile for Kobo only to hear crickets. Thanks for the post.

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