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SPS-336: Kobo Writing Life: Reach New Readers – with Tara Cremin

There’s more than one way to sell a book. Tara Cremin shares the philosophy behind Kobo’s approach to supporting authors to find new readers worldwide.

Show Notes

  • Kobo’s commitment to eReading being a great experience
  • On Kobo’s non-exclusive subscription program
  • Making it painless to sell books ‘wide’
  • How to distribute to libraries via Kobo
  • How pricing has changed for indie authors
  • The lack of a pricing cap on box sets at Kobo
  • Kobo’s commitment to fast audiobook approval and publishing

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

SPS-336: Kobo Writing Life: Reach New Readers - with Tara Cremin
Speaker 1: On this edition of the Self-Publishing Show.

Tara Cremin: I do see a world where we have print-on-demand being a bit easier or integrating AI with translations or even the audiobook creation. It feels like we're not quite there yet, but it's definitely moving toward a world where there'll be a balance of affordability and using tools like this to just generate more content.

Speaker 1: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers. No more barriers. No one standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing?

Join indie bestseller, Mark Dawson. And first-time author James Blatch, as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success. This is the Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Hello and welcome. It is the Self-Publishing Show with me, James Blatch.

Mark Dawson: And me, Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: Sitting in his TARDIS in the barn in Wiltshire.

Mark Dawson: Standing actually.

James Blatch: Oh, standing. You sit, stand desk.

Mark Dawson: I'm standing. Yeah, absolutely.

James Blatch: Very good. It's the hottest day of the year going to be 31 degrees. Actually, I'm going to be in London tonight, watching cricket at the Opus. It's going to be melting. And because I've booked my tickets late we're in a no alcohol stand.

Mark Dawson: Oh, dear. That's unfortunate.

James Blatch: Utter failure. So, basically we have to stand behind the stand drinking our drinks. We might have some train beers. I think it's a day for train beers, isn't it?

Mark Dawson: Possibly, yes. I'll be having some beers by the pool.

James Blatch: Yeah. Very nice, indeed. Okay. Enough about our rare moments of nice weather. We have a very special week coming up here in the life of SPF and the show because it is our live conference on Tuesday and Wednesday in London, England, and we're very much looking forward to it. We think everything's in place.

I think I've got to make a decision today about exactly how much money to put behind the bar, which has not been cheap putting this thing on, I can tell. You don't see any change out of a hundred thousand pounds, which is a lot of money for us to spend. We hopefully will get somewhere near break even by the end of it, but it's going to be so exciting to have everybody in the room.

You and I, we do this. We basically talk to cameras every week, every all year. And we haven't been able to do this for a couple of years in person, but I can't wait to be in the room with people. I think you and I are going to spend as much time in the foyer as possible, chatting to people, having conversations as well as being on stage, introducing people.

And we've got a great line up, not too late, probably to get tickets. Can't say that hand on heart, but if you can go and check it out at selfpublishingformula.com/spslive. If you want to join us, there might be some single day tickets left day one and day two. We're going to have some, I mean, honestly the sessions are coming in.

The PowerPoints are coming in. We're very excited about it. One I saw this week, I was chatting to John who's dealing with Hayley Milliman from ProWritingAid put together a really good session on editing. And it's one, I wasn't sure how it was going to work, but I've seen a PPT now, and it's going to be excellent.

I know that Suzy Quinn's going to do a really inspiring session on writing a bestseller. We're going to hear from Caroline and Suzanne who are huge selling authors on the planets at the moment. Lucy Score also, I don't know how much Lucy's going to say. She's my friend. I talked to her quite a lot about stuff. She's going to come and stay here actually with Tim for a couple of days after the conference, but she has had her biggest month of her life last month.

So, she's on a high at the moment. She's going to talk about that. But in addition to that, Mark, and I know this is your thing, right from the beginning, when you did it in the first conference, it's not just going to be high flyers on the stage.

Mark Dawson: Well, you'll be on the stage. So-

James Blatch: Yes, I am.

Mark Dawson: No, there's the last session we got, I think we've mentioned before is the authors who are doing really well. The kind of the mid 5-figure authors and low six. I think some of them might be creeping in, but just people who've had success over the last couple of years and are doing well enough analysis see really significant changes to their lives, but also the level of success that... Not everyone is going to be able to look at Suzanne and Caroline or Lucy.

And it feels like there's a long way between where most authors are and where those on that kind of level are. So, what we wanted is something a little bit more attainable so that people leave and it is the last session for that reason. They leave with a feeling that this is possible. Being a writer, as a full-time writer is something that is a dream for thousands and thousands of people in the community.

I think lots of the people that they show will look at that and think that was something that I would sell my right arm for and to be able to do that as a full-time career. And then these authors are at that level now, but it wasn't that long ago that they weren't. So it feels achievable and attainable and we'll kind of dig into some of their experiences and their tips as to how you get from where they were to where they are now.

James Blatch: Yes. Well, I am that author, as you said. And in fact, today it's quite a big day, because if you're watching on YouTube, you can see, my second novel is live today in paperback and it's going to be released in Kindle format on June the 28th, which is day one of the conference.

Mark Dawson: Oh, sounds quite cool.

James Blatch: Yeah. So, I'm double doing it that day. I'm reading it again now just to double check, but it's actually reading okay.

Mark Dawson: There's a typo on the first page.

James Blatch: Yeah, of course.

Mark Dawson: Sorry.

James Blatch: I've gone for white on the inside. What do you think about that? I'm now looking at it thinking most books are cream. I prefer white. I think it's higher contrast and easier to read, but it does make me think that nearly every other paperback I pick up is cream on the inside. What's your view on this, Mark?

Mark Dawson: Hang on. Let's have a quick look. Hold on. Yeah, actually just looking at the American version of the Cleaner, that's cream too.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: I think I do cream. I can't remember. Hold on a minute.

James Blatch: Exciting discussion this on the colour, but you have to make these decisions, right?

Mark Dawson: I do white. So, yeah. My books are white. Although, the books that I did with Welbeck are cream.

James Blatch: Okay. And my other controversial decisions, I've changed book size.

Mark Dawson: Yes. Well that's central.

James Blatch: This was a big wordy book and needed to be six by nine, I think. Otherwise, it was going to be very thick, but this is much better, I think is a proposal five by eight.

Mark Dawson: Yes.

James Blatch: Yeah. And I really like that. It goes into man bag or handbag.

Mark Dawson: Yes. It's going to be exciting to see that go live. We are recording this slightly advance. When we have the live shows, James says, "The book will be available." So, I suspect your also boughts are going to be polluted horribly for the first couple of weeks. There's lot of authors, very generously support you, that they did the last time. So, you're going to have to spend a lot of money correcting those training algorithm.

James Blatch: I will be doing that, but this month I've been upping my spend on Final Flight trying to get, it's been in the top two and a half thousand of the Kindle Store in the UK. And I have noticed that, in fact, I had emailed this week from a reader who said Amazon recommended it to him. And he thinks, because he bought a book about the Vulcan Bomber, it came up.

Mark Dawson: Yeah.

James Blatch: So that's really good. So, I am finding those readers as well. I've made a bit of a small profit this month as well. Once you take audiobooks into a commerce again, I'm trying to break even or even lose a bit would be fine. So, I'm sort of optimistic that book two is actually going to be profitable for me, but we will see. I will report everything back because everything I've done on this journey, going to use the word, I've done very publicly.

Mark Dawson: Sorry.

James Blatch: It's a journey. It's called a metaphor, Mark. I don't know if you're familiar with the concept as a writer. Anyway, yes very good. So, and if you're going to be at the show on Tuesday, we do have some things planned here and there, which I hope will raise a smile. Right. Good. Now, we have an interview today from Kobo. In fact, from Tara Cremin, who is actually, I hadn't realised Tara's been at Kobo for more than 10 years.

She's a bit of a lifer in the organisation. She does talk about exactly what Kobo is. Most of you will know and be familiar with Kobo, but it's possible that some of you aren't because in places like the UK, it is second probably at least to Amazon, but other parts of the world, Canada in particular and other countries, it's the number one retailer of e-books. And so it's an important organisation to be familiar with.

So, here's Tara. Tara is also going to be at the show. So, if there's something in the interview, if you're one of those people who thinks, "Oh, wish James had asked this question." Do you know what? You can turn up to London next week and you can ask Tara in person that question. So, here is Tara Cremin.

Tara Cremin from Kobo Writing Life, I should say, one of the sub-brands within Kobo. Welcome to the Self Publishing Show. Lovely to have you here.

Tara Cremin: Thank you for having me. It's great to be here to chat today.

James Blatch: Yeah, it's going to be really good to chat. We haven't spoken to Kobo for a while. In fact, I think probably the last time we spoke to somebody from Kobo, it was Mark Lefebvre, who's now working at Draft2Digital.

Tara Cremin: Yeah. That would've been some while ago, but yeah. I'm glad to get to come and chat to you and tell you everything that we've been up to since then.

James Blatch: Why don't we start with a bit about Kobo for those people who aren't familiar with the platform. Why don't you give us the skinny on Kobo?

Tara Cremin: Absolutely. Kobo is a digital book retailer. We sell e-books and audiobooks. And we also make e-reading devices, Kobo devices, that we humbly think are probably the best e-readers in the world that are out there. We went to market first with the very first waterproof e-reader. The latest ones that we have now have integrated notebooks.

You can mark up your files within them. And we're definitely really focused on making the reading experience the best that it can be. So, our focus really is improving that. Not trying to get you into our ecosystem to then sell you something else. Everyone that works at Kobo is very dedicated to just improving digital reading and trying to make the e-reading just as good as a physical book, because I know there still is difference between them, but we're trying to get to a place where the experience is seamless between the two.

We're owned by Rakuten, which is eCommerce giant based out of Japan. We're headquartered here in Toronto, but we're hybrid working. So, we're all over the place, but Rakuten has really allowed us to have this global reach. We have offices in Dublin, in Darmstadt. We have people that work in Europe.

Kobo's real business model has always been a global view of the e-reading landscape and for indie authors, what this means is that it's a great way for you to come on board and hit up readers in different countries in the world that you might not be able to access through some other platforms.

James Blatch: Specifically for people in the UK and Europe, it's very likely that Amazon is going to be the first point of call for them that they grow aware of. And they're going to be less aware of the size and impact of Kobo, which is considerable, right?

Tara Cremin: It feels like we're a lesser known sibling perhaps, but there's countries in Europe where people think about e-readers as Kobos and not Kindles. So, for the English markets, Canada being our number one territory where we launch. So that's always one of our strongest areas, but we're also very well known in Australia and New Zealand.

We have really strong retail partnerships down there with different stores. We partnered with Booktopia in Australia. That's one of our newest partnerships where we're powering their e-books and their audiobooks. And that's a strategy that Kobo has taken in different markets. We sell globally. But we also like to take what we call a globally local view of book selling.

We know that selling a book in France is slightly different to selling a book in the UK, which is why it's really important for us to have people on the ground there and unique opportunities and partnerships in these areas. Sometimes we partner with a traditional brick-and-mortar bookstore to power their digital arm of that. But sometimes it's with a general eCommerce store or different things like ball.com. So, we have a lot of different things in the works.

James Blatch: This might be a naive question about the devices, but is it possible to have a Kobo reading device and buy books from other retailers?

Tara Cremin: No, but you can buy with partnerships retailers. So, if you are in France, you could have a Fnac account that allows you to purchase through Kobo on your device. In Italy, you could be doing this through Mondadori. In the US it could be through Walmart. So, we have different integrated partnerships there. And it's generally the same Kobo store, but that's how they're purchased.

But one thing our devices also do have is integration with Overdrive. So, you can access your library if you have a library account, which if you don't, you should, libraries are awesome. So, it's really, really easy to just log in and access and go to your local library and download books through your e-reader as well.

James Blatch: And you talk about being Canada predominantly at the moment. Are you bigger than the South American river? In an interview with Kobo I don't want to keep saying it.

Are you bigger than Amazon in Canada?

Tara Cremin: I think it depends on what you see now because digital books has changed and evolved. It's not straight just eBooks. There are audiobooks in the works. We also have Kobo Plus, which is our subscription platform, which is non-exclusive, which is different to some of the other subscription platforms out there.

This has really increased the readership that we see in Canada, it's in select regions, Kobo Plus, like I said, testing out which areas it will really respond well to this. So, I don't know, personally, I like to think, yes, we are bigger than Amazon in Canada, but it really, I guess it depends.

James Blatch: Now in terms of what's available to indie authors, if they're wide, it's a no brainer or they should be on Kobo. I imagine the second biggest platform in the world. I'm going to have to say it again, there's no avoiding it. That's the thing about Amazon, it's everywhere, but-

Tara Cremin: Yeah.

James Blatch: After Amazon, Kobo is the biggest platform. So, if you're wide, this is a no brainer.

Tara Cremin: Mm-hmm. And our focus really is to try and make it the easiest upload experience. So, if you're a wide author, you're publishing on multiple platforms, we want to make that process really easy. So, you don't have to worry about that. If you're publishing on Amazon or Kobo and Apple and Google and everything to try and just take the pain out of actually uploading your books and everything.

If you go to kobo.com/writinglife, that's where you can create your account. And we have eBooks, you can directly upload an audiobook. You can also distribute to libraries and the Kobo Plus system as well. And all of these things have allowed us to expand the readership, the reach really that Kobo has in all these different types of reader.

This is how I've been defining them as the subscriber being a different reader to a plain digital reader, being different to then somebody that listens solely to audiobooks. With Kobo, you're really accessing all of these readers all over the world very easily.

James Blatch: And what about prints-on-demand, Tara, is this something Kobos into?

Tara Cremin: It's not. We get that question a lot. It's definitely a popular market, even now. It's just growing in popularity. I think it's something that's definitely going to just keep on growing, especially when we've seen the various different supply chain shortages through the past couple of years.

Never say never, but it's not where our focus is at the moment. We really want to just focus on the digital reading experience, but yeah, it's definitely something we keep our eye on to see how the market is shifting and changing.

James Blatch: I'm just thinking particularly for authors who are exclusive that, of course that exclusivity is just for eBooks. So, potentially I think there's a lot of people who would instantly upload their paperbacks to play if that was possible. But anyway, down the line, maybe I'm sure that technology is going just going to get cheaper and easier over time.

Tara Cremin: I hope so.

James Blatch: They're talking about potentially having these machines in the back of bookshops on there to print your book when you order it.

Tara Cremin: I hope so. I think it's the same, we're just waiting for technology to get a bit better for everything really. I think e-books itself has gone leaps and bounds since I started working at Kobo some 10 years ago. So, everything is so much easy now to even make a book. As an author, you don't have to worry about the formatting because you've got programmes like Vellum out there that just make it so easy.

I do see a world where we have print-on-demand being a bit easier or integrating like AI with translations or even the audiobook creation. It feels like we're not quite there yet, but it's definitely moving toward a world where there'll be a balance of affordability and using tools like this to just generate more content.

James Blatch: You talked about the readers being different between different formats. I wonder if the readers feel different between Kobo and other retailers, for those of us who market, at the moment, I market a lot to Amazon. So, I understand that ecosystem. Did different things work with Kobo, and does it work in a different way? Do you have the same level of email marketing to your readers to help boost books on your platform that other retailers do?

Tara Cremin: We do. I think one difference is that we're not hitting up our e-readers over and over again with deals and discounts. We're trying to balance this with more of the storytelling around, what we're trying to do here at Kobo. So, whether or not it's just having a real focus. It's like pride at the moment.

So, whether or not it's telling the story of pride and in our story and highlighting authors from the LGBTQ+ community. So that's what the aspect, we're trying to be a bit more thoughtful with our storytelling and really we want people to come to the kobo.store and feel like it's a curated bookshop just for them. And that's what we're trying to reflect in our emails as well.

That's not to say that we're not doing discounts in sales, but I don't think we're as aggressive as some of the other places, so that might be a main differentiator. Our readers are maybe not as price sensitive. They like a deal, but they're more into following the authors and the feeling of getting lost in a really good book.

James Blatch: Yeah. Well, not being price sensitive is a good thing to hear from an indie author point of view. Prices haven't seemed to move very much for indies over the years and they're pretty low.

Tara Cremin: I know that's funny actually, because we do see it increasing. That's kind of a common misconception even within Kobo. Other departments are still sometimes have the old fashioned view of like, "It's a 99 cent book." And you're like, "No, it's actually indie pricing has been climbing over the years and traditional pricing is reducing."

We are eventually going to meet in the middle. I think there's a real opportunity there. I think Indies are getting a bit wiser to really good price points in their books and being a bit more conscious, especially at Kobo. One of the pieces of advice that we always give is to really take advantage of the global reach that we have.

Make sure you're setting your price in these multiple currencies that is an attractive price point. So, I think it's always worthwhile doing that research. A lot of our authors come from the states, but the USD and the CAD are not the same value, unfortunately.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Tara Cremin: So, you just keeping that stuff in mind when you're pricing things. I think is really important and we're definitely seeing it increase. Kobo readers are really big fans of box sets. So, when it comes to pricing with box sets or higher pricing at all, we don't have enough for price cap.

Anything over $9.99, you are still earning 70% off of these books. So, what we are seeing is some hugely bundled box sets being priced for their value, being priced for $30, $40, $50. And those are being sold on the store as well. So yeah, it's just something to keep in mind with Kobo is that, yeah, there's not the same price sensitivity.

James Blatch: What is the commission rates for the royalty rates for indie authors?

Tara Cremin: So, if your eBook is priced over $2.99, you're getting 70%.

James Blatch: Is that USD?

Tara Cremin: Yeah. It's the equivalent. So, I think that's USD, Canadian. I think it's 1.99 GBP.

James Blatch: Okay.

Tara Cremin: I should know this off the top of my head for Europe, but I can't quite remember, but it is the equivalent of 2.99 across those currencies.

James Blatch: Yeah. Okay.

Tara Cremin: And then it's 45% if it's under that amount.

James Blatch: Okay. That's pretty good. And in terms of the uploads, I should have asked you this earlier, because you mentioned it in terms of usability for indie authors. You've worked hard on this being a user friendly and easy process.

Not everyone finds it easy formatting and uploading their book and setting the prices and so on. But the Kobo interface looks to me it's had some time and effort spent on it.

Tara Cremin: We want to try and make it as seamless as possible. We don't have a very advanced formatting tool. I think the best way to really use Kobo is to take your file that you've spent the time formatting and getting ready and then uploading that to Kobo. We take multiple different files, it could be a Word Doc, an ePub and we still accept Mobi even though people aren't using Mobi anymore.

So, it's a pretty seamless process and very quick. Books are published, we like to say within 24 to 72 hours, but more often than not, it's quicker than that as things are being processed pretty fast and that's the same with our audiobook. We do all of our audiobook processing in house, which makes it a really quick turnaround. So, you could have an audiobook published on Kobo within 24 hours, which is pretty unheard of with audiobook publication just due to the file size.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Tara Cremin: We really wanted to take the time to build that out and have our team handling everything in that aspect.

James Blatch: I remember doing an interview with an audiobook aggregator earlier this year, and he was talking about eight to 10 months with some of the platforms to get your audiobook live, which is crazy, I think.

Tara Cremin: It is. It's wild. I mean, that's another area where I think technology is yet to catch up, is like file storage and making these files smaller and easier to download. On the back end, we've been doing a lot of work on that, on the user experience for downloading an audiobook and maybe making sure that we're retaining the quality, even though we're trying to compress the file to a reasonable size that somebody is not jamming their iPhone with this giant audiobook. So yeah. We've been doing a lot of work on that as well.

James Blatch: Now in terms of growth, you are up against the exclusivity that Amazon has with both audiobooks and eBooks. So, what is your strategy? In fact, I think I already know this.

You already have some differentiators, but why don't you tell me what Kobo's strategy is to become a household name here in the UK in the same way you are in Canada?

Tara Cremin: Our strategy has always been that we are the company that has friends. So, we are the company that is partnering with all these other companies to try and just really grow book selling in the various different regions. For example, in Mexico, we actually have two partnerships there, Porrua and Gandhi who are actually competitors. They're competing traditional bookstores, but when Amazon was moving into the market there, they didn't want to compete with Amazon and each other.

So a way that they came together was partnering with Kobo so we could power their eBooks and audiobooks while they still run their area of expertise in the print business, so that's just one example. We have multiple partners in Italy. I think that is definitely a main differentiator. And then also we're not trying to get you to come exclusive to Kobo.

My team are really behind the wide ethos of publishing when you're publishing independently. We really encourage you to publish on as many platforms as possible because we want you to reach as many readers as you can. It's all about reaching readers, however, they want to read and just taking advantage of all of those opportunities.

We really want you to get your books in front of people. And then I think one for the indie author perspective, we have built out a number of promotions and different things that authors can take advantage of just for coming to Kobo directly. We're trying to really grow indie authors within Kobo because if they're successful, we are successful. So, this is really a partnership and yeah, its business friends, I guess, is the real secret to how we'd run things.

James Blatch: The bottom line, I suppose, for authors is how much they make from those exclusive deals and weighing that up. And I don't think, I've never spoken to an author has a really decided view on this. They think this is probably the best thing to do.

As the debate goes backwards and forwards, have you done any research in this level? Looked at case studies and been able to say to all this, do you know what? There's money on the table that will outweigh what you're earning from that exclusivity if you go wide.

Tara Cremin: I think it's fluid. Just because you are exclusive at one point doesn't mean you are branded forever as an exclusive author. We have more and more authors reaching out to us that are going wide for the first time. I think that's really encouraging. And that's really great for us to know because when we are trying to help you, we know that you can sell on Amazon. How can you sell on Kobo? You have those readers.

So, there definitely is ways that we're enticing people to come wide. We do have a couple of instances of where books would just be on Kobo with our Kobo originals platform. So, we do original contents and different commissions in a very similar way. It's basically a publisher within Kobo. It focuses on key GEOs. It's quite a large part of the business in the Netherlands. For example, we also do English content there.

So, there's a number of different opportunities, but I definitely think that it is hard to compete for a month to month sale, say for example, but it's all about the mindset that you as an author want with your business. Being a wide author does take more effort. It takes a little bit more time to hit the readership and maybe hit the amount that you're making by being exclusive. But it's all about what you want in the long term. It comes down really to the old saying like, "Do you want to put all your eggs in one basket?" But I think it's better to widen where you're publishing and to have multiple options of things and multiple things to take advantage of.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Tara Cremin: Just sort of makes sense to me.

James Blatch: Okay. Your book in the hands of more readers and maybe that's Hollywood film producer, more chance of picking it up.

Tara Cremin: Precisely.

James Blatch: Not just on one platform. I guess the other guys around here, Google Books, Apple Books, the other people who have a similar position in the market to you, probably not as big I'd imagine as Kobo. You talk about your friends.

Do you feel more cooperative to other retailers than perhaps the South American river is?

Tara Cremin: I think so in the fact that even mentioning and encouraging people to also publish their books there.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Tara Cremin: I think you should be publishing on Apple and Google, if you're publishing on Kobo, that is the way forward. And we like building these relationships when we're at events the Self Publishing Live Show, I'm sure that we'll get to catch up with them. I think that's probably a big differentiator. It's always interesting to see what people are doing. And we all have the same end goal really. I think quite often some readers do bounce from different platform to platform. So, I don't think there's always a defined, Google reader might also have a Kobo, but read on their Android on their phone. So yeah, we're not so strict in our advice and on where to go.

James Blatch: We should say we're recording this. I'm not sure when this interview's going to go out, but you-

Tara Cremin: Oh, sorry. I shouldn't refer to any teams.

James Blatch: Well. No, that's okay. You're due to come to the show, which is in a couple of weeks as we're recording this and we're looking forward to seeing you there and I'm rehearsing. I'm getting you ready, because you're going to be asked by authors there. Should I go wide? And you have to-

Tara Cremin: Oh, yeah.

James Blatch: Come up with-

Tara Cremin: This is good practise. This is our first in person event since the pandemic.

James Blatch: Wow.

Tara Cremin: So, this is a good practise for me beforehand.

James Blatch: There you go. How long have you been with the company, Tara?

Tara Cremin: It'll be 10 years this summer. So yeah, it's been a long time. I've worked in a couple of different roles, but always on Kobo Writing Life. So, I worked on the back end for a while. I was the person that was cracking open ePubs and fixing them, and trying to make sure that the feeds and streams were good and then moved to a more front-facing growth and marketing role.

James Blatch: I should say used the acronym geo earlier, is that growth opportunity or what's what's geo mean?

Tara Cremin: Oh, the country, the geo.

James Blatch: The geo, geographic. What's this now?

Tara Cremin: Yeah. I don't know, actually, I guess, yeah. The geographic area.

James Blatch: The geo, surely.

Tara Cremin: Yeah.

James Blatch: Anyway.

Tara Cremin: I guess just a different way of saying country.

James Blatch: Yeah. I thought I should have asked at the time what that meant. Okay. So, you've been there 10 years and I think I remember the recruiting takeover was that five or six years ago? Something like that.

Tara Cremin: I think it happened right before I joined.

James Blatch: Oh, I see.

Tara Cremin: And it was in 2011. So yeah, it's been quite some time now and it's been, what I found personally very interesting is when I joined Kobo, it had a real startup feel. There was cupcakes in the office for no reason, a lot, just that like culture where you were just figuring out how to fix things. And everything felt like an emergency. You're just like, "How do we get the books on site and make them better?" And now it's really evolved to this startup culture to this more mature company.

I've really enjoyed seeing the flow of that. I know a lot of people thrive working in that startup environment. I don't know if it's for me, but it was really good to get that experience, to see where you're basically just creating something from scratch and you're coming up with these processes and how things evolve has been really interesting.

James Blatch: How much contact do you have? How much do you feel a part of the recruiting? Because it's a big company recruit.

Tara Cremin: Yeah.

James Blatch: Are you Kobo and how much are you aware that now I don't know if your pension systems and HR? Does that all come from a corporate level or is it all still done locally?

Tara Cremin: Rakuten split between the different areas. So, there's Rakuten Americas, which we are part of with the Canada and American system. So, we have weekly meetings where we meet and they're very transparent in sharing news and updates from what the different countries are doing and the different initiatives that Rakuten has. And then, in Europe they have the same thing. It's the EMEA region. So, they have their weekly meetings and yeah, we're pretty in tune and a pretty key part of the business strategy really.

James Blatch: It sounds like potentially some job opportunities where should you wish to change within the-

Tara Cremin: Maybe, yeah. Even in Toronto, there's Rakuten advertising is here and Rakuten marketing. There's more than just Kobo and Rakuten is actually 25 this year as well.

James Blatch: Wow.

Tara Cremin: So, it's a big birthday. KWL turns 10, Rakuten is 25. So yeah, it's been interesting to see the different areas of growth and stuff that Rakuten have been doing.

James Blatch: So, you are coming to London or you've been in London depending when this goes out.

Is this something that's going to be a feature for you personally over next year or two you're going to start going to the conferences?

Tara Cremin: I have been going to a lot of the conferences in America or we had pre-pandemic. I had started to go to a lot of them. I haven't been to this one in London yet. I don't know why we haven't, I don't know-

James Blatch: Well, we've only done it once in 2019, so that we would-

Tara Cremin: So that explains it.

James Blatch: ... it was just closing up as we just gotten under the wire.

Tara Cremin: Yeah. I think it really depends on the opportunities. It's much easier for us obviously to travel to America, but this being such a large indie focused one in Europe, I think it's a great opportunity. We have the team in France that do events there for like French authors. We have KWL people in Italy and the Netherlands.

So, they do go to those events, but there isn't really an English focused one. I'm really excited to have this opportunity to talk to the British indie authors and anyone else that's travelling there as well. I think it'll be a lot of fun.

James Blatch: That'll be plenty from North America, I think as well. But yeah. And people I should say, we had this conversation off air, but people are confused about your accent.

Tara Cremin: Oh, yeah.

James Blatch: So, you are actually European because... it is quite a hard accent to pin down, but now you've told me that you are Irish, I think not by birth. Funny enough, were you?

Tara Cremin: Yes.

James Blatch: You're by birth Irish. That does make sense now that I'm listening.

Tara Cremin: I was born in Cork and then I lived there for most of my life, but then as a child grew up in England, so when I was eight, I had a British accent. There was no sign of it. And then I moved back to Ireland. So, then I had a mishmash and my mom lived in England for many years. So, every time I travelled there, it would change. And then, I've lived in Canada now for 10 years. And every time I go to Ireland, they tell me, I sound like a Yank. I'm like, "I don't live in America." So yeah, I'm easily influenced with my accent about where I am.

James Blatch: Yeah. It'll settle down. It's a nice accent though. I should say. Okay. Well look, Tara, thank you very much, indeed.

I guess the passing question for us is that what would you say to somebody who is currently exclusive with another retailer and is not convinced? What can you say to them to say, this is something you need to consider?

Tara Cremin: I just think that you're leaving an opportunity. I think as things expand, as things change, even with how we've seen more and more people taking advantage of indie publishing and it getting a bigger and bigger area. There's more and more authors for competing for different spots. I think it just makes sense to start building these relationships. It's just something to really take the time about, do your research, reach out to me and the team. We're happy to sit down and really one-on-one, tell you what we think works and why you should come and move wide. Ultimately, I think you're doing your readers a disservice, if they can only read on one platform you're missing readers that could potentially be accessing your book in a different way. So, I think that's ultimately, it's about the reader at the end of the day.

James Blatch: And that Hollywood producer, of course, let's not forget.

Tara Cremin: Of course.

James Blatch: Him or her. And it's kobo.com, I guess.

Tara Cremin: Yes it is.

James Blatch: Which is nanogram of book.

Tara Cremin: It is.

James Blatch: Took somebody to point that out to me before I realised it but-

Tara Cremin: Same with me. I think I worked here for a couple years before I realized it.

James Blatch: That's where it comes from. Okay. Look, Tara, I can't wait to see you in London. We'll share a drink together. No doubt. As you were born in Ireland, that will happen and we'll have a good conference I'm sure. And yeah, let's keep in touch and of course always consider that wide option.

Tara Cremin: Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me.

James Blatch: There we go, Tara Cremin. Really looking forward to meeting Tara next week in London, and you can have a chat with her as well. If you're coming to the show, not too late. We should just also say Mark, that the digital ticket is about to go up in price. So, it's digital tickets as cheap as we can make it. We have to pay, I mean, it's 10,000 pounds plus of the video production plus with the editing.

So it goes up a lot. But we've made the digital ticket $25 as cheap as possible. And that is a professionally produced version of every session at the show and a roundup video delivered to your email, or it be an online course. And you can pick that up at selfpublishingformula.com/digital, but it's going up in price next week.

So, it'll be $40 after next week. So, you need to buy it today at $25. And then, it goes up to $40 after the show. So, it's basically a pre-show special deal. And finally, Mark, if you're watching on YouTube, I'm modelling some of our merchandise.

Mark Dawson: Yes, very nice. Blue and yellow t-shirt with the logo for the conference. So yes, very nice.

James Blatch: It's a very commercial podcast this one, there you go. We've got a lot of merch. We've got some really good baseball caps. I'm definitely going to get myself a baseball cap next week. Because strangely I haven't been given one, which is weird, but I'm going to get one next week. I'll have to pay for it. I think they're 15 pounds. The t-shirts I think are a 10 or something like that. And it's having a cool band t-shirt isn't it? Having SPF on your t-shirt.

Mark Dawson: Remember we had it the last conference, we had a number of different t-shirts based on levels of success and a famous Facebook interaction. Well not famous. Famous Facebook interaction I had with a slightly unusual author. And then, we just wanted to look at into the crowd last time and see different colour t-shirts with different weird slogans on depending on where authors were in their careers. So yeah. We'd lovely to see people in similar merch. You can get that in advance as well. I think you can get them possibly if you're quick. I think they're on the website. I'm not entirely sure but have a look.

James Blatch: Yeah, I think they are, but anyway, turn up at the show next week. And then, after the show, if there's anything left will stick on the website. Yeah. Who does not want to be seen in a Self Publishing Show t-shirt this summer?

Mark Dawson: I don't know. I'm sure for people going to the show it will be the t-shirt of choice.

James Blatch: What t-shirt are you wearing by the way?

Mark Dawson: Oh, it's just a free one.

James Blatch: Set a buyer.

Mark Dawson: No, it's fashion, James. I will spend-

James Blatch: Is it-

Mark Dawson: off camera? Yeah.

James Blatch: I'm glad you explained that to me.

Okay. Okay, good. Now, we do have a part show and supporter to welcome, but we should do that at the beginning. So, I tell you what we're going to save that for next week. Our first post show interview. That is it for this week. Cannot wait to see you. If you're coming to London next week, do come and say hello. Both Mark and I are there to be spoken to and spoken at. We also accept beer should you wish to buy us one in the evening and looking forward to it. See you then until then all the remains for we to say is there's a goodbye from him.

Mark Dawson: And goodbye from me. Goodbye.

James Blatch: Goodbye.

Speaker 1: Get show notes, the podcast archive, and free resources to boost your writing career at selfpublishingshow.com. Join our thriving Facebook group at selfpublishingshow.com/facebook. Support the show at patreon.com/selfpublishingshow and join us next week for more help and inspiration, so that you can make your mark as a successful indie author. Publishing is changing. So get your words into the world and join the revolution with the Self Publishing Show.

 

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