Kobo has opened up the way for self-publishers to upload their audiobooks direct through the Kobo Writing Life platform.
The company got into audiobooks a couple of years ago when they launched an audiobook subscription scheme in September 2017 which undercut Amazon’s Audible service by a third.
The Kobo audiobook scheme launched at $9.99 a month compared with Audible’s $14.95 and both services are still priced at those levels. Kobo advertises itself as having the lowest-priced audiobook subscription and also points out that subscribers can keep their audiobooks even if they cancel.
The capability to self-publish audiobooks direct to a retailer is a welcome move but there is, of course, the fact that you need to have produced the audiobook to begin with. The cost of audiobook production varies but can easily be in the $2,000 and higher range. Some authors have been moving to doing their own productions but this takes time and expertise to ensure a quality production.
You can find out more about audiobook production and distribution in my article on 3 ways indie authors can self-publish audiobooks which covers the wider market.
There are, of course, other ways to get your audiobook into the Kobo store, notably though distributor Draft2digital and their link-up with Findaway Voices. The advantage to going direct with Kobo would be that you’d get the full royalty rather than the 80% of net paid through D2D.
Kobo doesn’t have any requirement for exclusivity so you can publish there and elsewhere without any problems.
Kobo allows authors and self-publishers to set their own price for their audiobooks and royalties are set at 35% for audiobook priced under $2.99 and 45% for titles priced above $2.99. Prices can be set internationally in 16 currencies.
Amazon’s ACX/Audible pays a 40% royalty if your audiobook exclusive with them and 25% if the title has wider distribution. Audible retains pricing control.
The process to upload audiobooks through the Kobo Writing Life dashboard looks fairly straightforward and is:
- Log into your Kobo Writing Life account, select Audiobooks on the dashboard and click Create new Audiobook.
- Input your audiobook details, including title, sub-title, contributors, synopsis, publisher, imprint, audio ISBN (if no ISBN is provided then a Kobo-specific ISBN will be assigned).
- Upload your cover image in png or jpeg file format with a minimum size of 600px by 600px and a maximum image size of 5MB. Covers for audiobooks should be square and if they are not they will be automatically adjusted.
- Upload your audio files. You can drop files directly from your computer into the Upload Audio Files section or select the folder on your desktop that contains your audiobook files. Audio files must be in .mp3 or m4a formats and an individual file cannot exceed 200MB in size and all files combined cannot exceed 800MB in size
- Once your files have been completely uploaded, make a Table of Contents which organizes your audiobook to make sure it is in reading order and is what customers use to navigate the audiobook when downloaded to their app. You can move the files up and down to ensure they are in the correct order and provide the chapter title for the file. You can add the Chapter title under the ‘Name of Content’ section. You can also listen to the file to confirm you have given the file the correct Chapter heading.
- Select the countries you own the rights to sell your title in and set the price for your title.
- Within around 48 hours or so your audiobook should be available in the Kobo store.