How to promote your books on Kobo: WITHOUT SPENDING A DIME


I recently realised that there could be tons of marketing opportunities outside Amazon.

That was a discovery. Because from the time I started indie publishing my books in 2013, I had heard that Amazon is the only e-book retailer that provides marketing tools to authors. Especially when you join its KDP Select programme.

That others don’t care about you.

Well, that is no longer true. Kobo too offers marketing or rather merchandising opportunities to its authors.

But wait a minute—isn’t merchandising offered ONLY to well-established authors? The ones who sell hundreds of thousands of books? What if you are in no such league?

Well, Kobo has a programme for authors—regardless of whether you sell well or don’t sell at all. And surprisingly, it’s the same programme that Kobo offers to traditional publishers.

However, to qualify you need to go directly to Kobo. If you have been publishing your books through Draft2Digital or Smashwords, you won’t have access to the programme.

Unpublishing from Draft2Digital or Smashwords is easy. Just go to your dashboard, uncheck the box to delist the book from Kobo and simply re-publish again. Your books will disappear from Kobo within 24 hours (my experience on Draft2Digital) or it may take 24 years (just kidding).

Next, publish your books through Kobo Writing Life. I download the e-pub file from Draft2Digital and upload the same file on Kobo. So there is no hassle of uploading your MS-Word document, reconverting it to e-pub, fixing errors and so on. All the pain in the *** stuff.

That done, don’t start looking around for the “promotion tab” in your dashboard. That doesn’t happen automatically.

For that, you’ll have to e-mail Kobo Writing Life and tell them you want to be included in their Beta programme for authors. In my experience, the Kobo Writing Life team is very helpful and they create a promotion tab within 24 hours which you can then access through your dashboard.

Once this is done, you can easily apply for tons and tons of promotional opportunities. There are some opportunities which are special—such as April 30% off or UK top 200. Please note that the books accepted for promotions are all curated. The Kobo team looks at your cover, blurb, interiors (maybe) and pricing. And if they reject your book, they also let you know the reason.

There are two kinds of promotions on Kobo—one where you pay upfront (ranging from $5 to $80) and another where Kobo charges additional 10% from your sales (so instead of making 70%, you’ll make 60%). That way, you have a poor man’s BookBub, at NO upfront cost.

Recently, Kobo approved two of my books for promotion. Celebrating Quiet People for Kobo Next—Fiction and Non-fiction and When Ganges Met the North Sea—for Romance Deals Page Spotlight. Both cost a 10% reduction in royalty rate. ONLY.

I’m not sure how the promotions will go. Butterflies in my stomach. Stories range from phenomenal success to phenomenal failure and everything in between. Hey, but that’s true about any promotion. Even a 5 day free book promotion on KDP Select. Or a sell-your-soul promotion on the BookBub. Isn’t it?

Even if my promotions are in the phenomenal failure category (which usually they are!), I would not have lost anything. Not even money. Because Kobo makes money ONLY when I make money.

So there is nothing to lose. As I keep saying on my blog, I am all for any kind of marketing strategy that you can experiment with WITHOUT SPENDING A DIME.

So go ahead and experiment with promotions on Kobo. And let me know how it went.

And have a nice weekend!



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