Thoughts on The Kobo/PressBooks ‘Let’s Get Published’ Workshop

Kobo Writing Life logoThe Kobo/PressBooks ‘Let’s Get Published’ workshop in Montreal was held was in the gorgeous but dilapidated Greek Revival style mansion which was once the home and business headquarters/studios of William Notman (1826-1891), renowned photographer and owner of the largest photographic business in North America in the second half of the 1800s.

As I went up the curved staircase that led from the gracious large room with exquisite ceiling mouldings on the ground floor to the first floor in search of a washroom, I had the most deliciously spooky feeling. I walked along the passageway listening to the creaking floors and the clicking of keyboards (Notman House is now the home of tech start-ups), and, from outside, the rain pounding down, wailing sirens, and irate blasts of horn-honking from the traffic jam on Sherbrooke.

I’d never been in this house before but I recognized it. Notman House was the abandoned house I’d described in an early (unfinished) story about a runaway! Definitely a sign to dig out that story again!

Those who wanted to publish a finished manuscript through Kobo and PressBooks that evening, were instructed to register with Kobo Writing Life and with PressBooks before arriving. Even though I didn’t have a manuscript ready, I did this and found it very straightforward and only took a few minutes.

PressBooks makes the file for e-pub and file format (printed). As PressBooks founder Hugh McGuire took the workshop participants through the process of uploading and publishing their work, I realized it was nowhere near as intimidating as I’d expected. If you are familiar with WordPress, you will feel comfortable navigating PressBooks.

At the same time, I found there was more to it than the basic four steps outlined on the website. For example, I didn’t realize one uploads a novel chapter by chapter rather than as a complete manuscript.

One of the most useful things about the workshop was learning what I would need to assemble and what decisions would need to be made when the time comes to publish…not just the stories or novel, but other elements such as the dedication, the price, the ISBN/eISBN, bar codes, where in the world you want to sell your book, etc.

In order to attract attention to your book, which will be one of more than one million books in English that come out each year according to Mark Lefebvre, Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo, he encourages giving special consideration to three elements in particular:

  • the cover
  • the synopsis
  • the price

Graphic designer Kate McDonald was at hand to create and discuss cover designs. I wasn’t far along enough to have a clear idea of what I was looking for, but she gave me a lot of helpful advice about issues of design, as well as suggesting sources for images. She reminded everyone about the importance of crediting one’s images and sources, even when it is copyright and royalty free.

I came away from the workshop seeing e-publishing as a much more likely proposition for my own work than when I’d arrived. I think this was because:

  • I felt the actual setting up was manageable
  • I understood what I needed to prepare
  • I now had a contact to help with cover design (I would have liked some contacts for help with editing)
  • I could see a possible way to market my short stories. Mark Lefebvre’s suggestions (e.g., through a theme, for a particular time of year) seemed like a really fun – and for me, very different – way to think about my writing. Since the workshop I’ve been checking out the anthology sections of fiction in bookstores and discovered some surprising themes that have prompted several ideas.

Some questions still to think about:

  • Do I want to spend time and effort on setting everything up myself? (as I understand it, time and effort on marketing is going to be much the same whether self-publishing or under contract with a publishing house)
  • How much do I want the ‘glory’ of having a collection of short stories accepted by an established publisher? Conversely, I have to admit that the thought of being in control of the publishing situation, and not having to wait who knows how long for an acceptance/contract, is very attractive.
  • Is it better for my short stories to appear in literary journals (i.e., the traditional nod of literary approval) or might I find a larger audience through self-published e-books?
  • How will I go about finding the right editor?

Check out Kobo Writing Life’s ‘The Craft of Writing

What are your thoughts and experiences of e-publishing?

What are your experiences of Kobo/PressBooks?



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