On the indie author circuit discussion about how to promote self-published ebooks is prevalent everywhere.
Understandably the focus is on Amazon, as the biggest ebook retailer in the US and UK, and of course Amazon famously offers certain promotional features through KDP, such as the ability to list at $0.00 for five days in a given ninety day period, or the Kindle Countdown feature that lets authors drop their list price for a short period.
But there is a cost. The title needs to be signed up with KDP Select – that is, exclusive with Amazon – for the aforementioned ninety day period.
Many indie authors believe that other ebook retailers do not offer any promotional opportunities.But while there’s no question Amazon wins hands down in terms of size, it would be very wrong to think Amazon is the only indie-friendly retailer out there.
Leading the way in terms of a range of deals and in terms of potential geographical reach is Kobo. And so today I take a snapshot of the promo dealsoffered by Kobo via their Kobo Writing Life portal for self-publishers.
Let me be clear from the outset that TNPS does not carry affiliate links, nor do we receive any reward for referencing any retailer or service. Such mentions that are made are for illustrative purposes.
As I write this (April 23) it is the last day for indie authors to submit a book for Kobo’s May $0.99 Sale.
Kobo is running a $0.99 promotion from May 3-7 in the US. This promo will be advertised on the Kobo website and by email to our customers … Each author can submit one title to this sale. All genres welcome. These titles will be mixed in with titles on sale from major publishers.
How it works is that accepted titles are featured according to the promo deal and come payday an additional 10% will be deducted (from the royalties due to be paid for that title) for any sales made during the promotional period.
In this instance the author will choose a title to discount and if accepted then, on May 3, the price will automatically drop to $0.99, reverting to its regular price when the sale ends.
There’s still time (deadline April 26) to get some action from the Kobo AU/NZ Mother’s Day Price Promo, which runs from May 9 through 17.
Unsurprisingly this particular promo is just happening in Australia and New Zealand, and Kobo says the promo will be advertised on the Kobo website and by email to Kobo customers.
I mentioned the UK Spring First in Series Sale in the headline as an example of the innovative variety of promotional opportunities Kobo offers, but if you’re hoping to jump in on that one, sorry, the deadline for submissions was April 15.
You’ll also have just missed the Spring Price Drop Promo, which runs April 26 through 30 in the US and Canada, but had a submission deadline of April 17.
There’s still time to submit for the May Buy 2 Thrillers Get 1 Free Sale, which has a deadline of April 30.
This deal is again for Australia and New Zealand. Just to add here that Kobo has separate localised sites for Australia and New Zealand, with New Zealand prices listed in $NZ. By contrast New Zealand buyers going to Amazon have to use the Kindle US or Kindle AU site.
April 30 is also the deadline for submissions for the May VIP 30% off sale, which will run May 25 through 28.
VIP sale? This is an email-promoted sale exclusively for Kobo VIP members.
VIP members pay an annual fee to get extra super points on every purchase, and take part in special promos (like this one!). Your title must have a price of $2.99 or higher to be considered (1.99 in UK and EU). You can submit as many titles as you want to this sale. There is no limit. We can’t guarantee that all titles will make it into the promotion. As the discount for this sale is delivered by promo code, there is no need to input a discounted price while submitting. Please submit the regular price for your book.
Another promotional opportunity with a April 30 deadline is the Sci-Fi & Fantasy $3.99 and Under Sale.
Running May 9 through 16, this is for higher-priced books to be dropped to 3.99.
Unfortunately the deadline has passed for the April 40% off sale, the actual promo of which ends today. But the good news is there’s still time to submit for the May 40% off box sets sale, which runs May 7 through 28 and has a submissions deadline of May 13. Kobo explains:
This promo will be advertised to customers on the Kobo homepage and by email at various times in various territories across the world during the sale period. Your box set must have a price of $4.99 or higher to be considered (3.99 in the UK and EU). You do not have to submit a discounted price for this sale, as the discount will be provided by promo code during checkout. This also means you don’t have to worry about other retailers price-matching! You can submit as many titles as you like to this sale. All genres welcome. We can’t guarantee that all titles will make it into the promotion. Pre-orders cannot be submitted. During the course of the sale customers will be able to use an author-supported 40% off promotional code to purchase your eBook. TERMS OF THIS PROMOTION: NEW: No royalty deduction for participation! We usually take 10% of your royalties for taking part in the sale, but not this time!
On top of the featured promotions for special occasions there is also the on-going Double Daily Deal, which as the name suggests is a daily promotional deal.
As of writing this the next available slot is for April 30, then daily through May. Again, no cash up-front. 10% is deducted from royalties from those sales made during the promotion.
The Daily Deal feature on the Kobo homepage is a coveted merchandising spot. Your Double Daily Deal will run in Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. This feature represents an opportunity to be featured as a secondary daily deal, to accompany the primary daily deal. Double Daily Deals are now featured on our Deals page – the home of all active deals on Kobo, and one of our most-frequented pages as a result. This is a huge boost to the deals visibility. The deals will also be promoted on the @KoboDeals Twitter account.
The Daily Deal itself is Kobo’s flagship pay-up front promo offer, available once a week for two days. The next Daily Deals are scheduled for May 7-8, May 14-15 and May 21-22.
The slot will set you back £50 (GBP as I’m accessing Kobo via my UK account) or your local currency equivalent.
For the up-front cash you get, if accepted,
the coveted Daily Deal spot on our homepage in Canada and the United states (and since January) the UK, Australia and New Zealand. In order to cover all time zones, your book will have to be discounted for 2 full days instead of just one. The Daily Deal is featured prominently on our homepage and is often also featured in e-mails and banners on site, and will also be promoted on the @KoboDeals Twitter accoun
With the percentage deduction deals there is no risk, as if you get few sales you pay less. With the pay up-front deals you risk not breaking even, but with those promotional benefits on offer it ought to be a sure fire winner.
You can also pay a token sum up-front to promote your free ($0.00 list price) books. There are two options: the coveted genre-specific Free Page – Editor’s Pick slot, at $15 GBP or local currency equivalent, or a slot without the Editor’s Pick boost for £3.
“Free” is the most-searched term on the Kobo website. This feature allows your free book to be spotlit as an editor’s pick on the free page, the only place on the Kobo website where free books are advertised. This feature lasts one week only. When submitting your title, you must input a 0 price. If approved, our system will save this price and put it in place for your 1-week feature – no need to save the price yourself! If your book is permafree, or you choose to save a 0 price for a few weeks after your 1-week feature, your book will linger on the free page in the list.
The weekly Editors Pick deals currently being advertised are:
Free Page – Editor’s Pick – Mysteries & Thrillers
Free Page – Mysteries & Thrillers List
Free Page – Editor’s Pick – Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror
Free Page – Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror List
Free Page – Young Adult List
Free Page – Romance List
Free Page – Editor’s Pick – Romance
Free Page – Fiction/Non-Fiction List
The list of promotions available in the Kobo Writing Life dashboard varies each month and as best I can tell there is no sign-up option to be notified when new promotions become available, so it is a matter of having to keep popping back to KWL to see what’s new.
The promotional deals only apply to Kobo itself, not its retail partner stores like WH Smith (UK), Indigo (Canada), Angus & Robertson (Australia), etc.
In 2016 some 22.5% of Kobo sales came from Kobo Writing Life. I’m hoping to have 2017 numbers shortly.
The full share of indie author sales on Kobo will be considerably higher as many more will be selling on Kobo through aggregators like Smashwords, Draft2Digital, StreetLib, PublishDrive, etc.