As I discussed in my last post on my experiences going off of KDP Select, while I was not entirely happy with Kobo’s new indie publication initiative, WritingLife, I was pleased that, unlike Barnes and Noble, the support staff I contacted were very responsive to my communications with them over problems I encountered. So I feel I should point out a positive change that has happened this week. If you read the blog post, you will know I was concerned about with the way Kobo treated free books, and I was glad to discover there is now a 3rd way you can find free books–by clicking on a link that says Search a List of our Latest Free Books.
When I discovered this link and clicked on it this morning, I was surprised to discover that my short story Dandy Detects was listed first. I don’t know why it is at the top of the list. (I am assuming it was not there because I was a squeaky wheel!) I suppose Dandy could have had the most free downloads recently (which would be surprising-given that the #4 and #5 books on the list are short stories by N.Y. Times bestselling authors Jennifer Weiner and Bella Andre) or it could simply be the newest book put on the list, and if so, in time, no matter how popular it is, it will sink. It is also clearly a very abbreviated list, since there are only 172 books listed and most of them still seem to be public domain books. (Whereas if you put in the key word historical mystery and filter for free you get 880 free books-so obviously there are a lot more free books available on Kobo.) But if it is simply list of most recent free books, and Kobo readers can find this list on their devices, this might begin to help create a greater interest in free books from Kobo consumers, and that should help authors use the free promotion option to highlight their books.
However, from the author’s point of view, it is still frustrating to have no idea how many free copies of my story have been downloaded. And, I am assuming that the numbers must not be terribly large since my experience in other ebookstores is that a certain percentage of people who read Dandy Detects for free then immediately buy my other short story, The Misses Moffet Mend a Marriage, which is only 99 cents. But I have had only 1 sale of that book since Dandy went free. I am trying to be patient.
While I am on the subject of Kobo, I did want to add something else positive about Kobo (with a caveat). Kobo permits an author to link to their GoodReads reviews, which is of particular benefit to authors who have just put up a book on the site. In other bookstores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble and iBooks, you have to wait for people who have bought the book in that store to put up reviews, which can take months if not years. But because of Kobo’s policy, Dandy Detects, which has been available on Kobo for only a month, has 88 reviews. The downside of this policy is that there doesn’t seem to be a way for a reader to post a review directly on Kobo (all they can do is give them stars and it is not clear to me how a star rating by a Kobo reader is folded into the GoodReads star ratings.)
This can be a problem because not every author wants to put their books up on GoodReads, particularly when there are competing reader sites like Shelfari and LibraryThing that they may find more compatible. For example, just recently there was a huge controversy over retaliatory reviews on GoodReads that caused some authors to remove their books from this site. See the posts by Vacuous Minx for a discussion of some of these issues. The fact that linking to GoodReads is the only way for a book to get reviews on Kobo would then be a real handicap for these authors (or authors who have suffered a lot of negative reviews in one of these retaliatory wars).
In short, I applaud Kobo for the steps they have taken to be innovative and responsive to authors’ and readers’ needs, but they are definitely still a work in progress. Nevertheless, I am having fun watching the changes unfold.
As always, I would love to hear from all of you, particularly those of you who own Kobo readers or have published with them.
In addition here is some Shameless Blatant Promotion on my two Victorian San Francisco Mysteries now that I am safely back in the KDP Select fold.
Maids of Misfortune will be FREE on KINDLE Monday-Tuesday August 20-21 and
Uneasy Spirits will be FREE ON KINDLE Tuesday-Wednesday August 21-22.
The AUDIOBOOK version of Maids of Misfortune will be discounted to $5.95 (even less to audible.com members) Saturday August 25 to Sunday September 2.