My Evening at KoboWritingLife with Joanna Penn

Kobo eventYes, you can see my red hair sticking out in front row near the column.


Monday night I went to a meet and greet at Kobo’s headquarters held here in Toronto. The event was an opportunity to meet and mingle with other authors and meet guest speaker, author Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn and Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo.

Mark made himself available to chat with everyone who wished to speak with him and ask questions about the Kobo platform. He is a charming, layback sort of guy who makes you feel comfortable to speak with. We chatted for quite awhile and he answered my questions and concerns I had in preparation to soon begin moving my books over to that platform as well as Amazon’s. As I made it clear in earlier posts I intend to get out of the KDP Select program and diversify my distribution with my books. Mark was honest and forthright with his quiet sense of humor and very obliging in the time he spent with me.

D.G. and Mark at Kobo

Okay, so no, I didn’t want to be in the picture. My new author friend Wendy insisted I be in it with Mark. I don’t like being in photos, especially with my too short recent haircut!

I also chatted for quite awhile with Jodi White, Operations Manager of Kobo. We chatted away as though we were two old friends. She told me a lot about Kobo’s promotional events which they run for authors, sometimes on a monthly basis. When Jodi told me this, I was surprised I hadn’t heard about these events because other than receiving my invite from Joanna, by subscribing to her newsletter, I would never have known about the event. Apparently, I had also just missed Hugh Howey’s visit last month, darn! Because I had yet to distribute with Kobo, I wasn’t receiving their newsletter and Jodi didn’t hesitate to ask me for my business card so she could add me to the list to stay informed of upcoming news and events. It was also funny that when I handed her my card, she looked up and said, “I know this website.” I was taken aback wondering why, when she proceeded to tell me that she popped by my website when I replied to RSVP to the event and she remembered my logo header, it had stuck out in her memory. That made me feel great. My branding was memorable.

For the first half hour or so, everyone mingled around Joanna and the lovely spread of appetizers and drinks (yes beer and wine included). It was a harmonious atmosphere. I chatted with Joanna for a while and gave her the ‘hellos’ I promised to pass on from two author friends who live outside of Canada, James Thorn and Adam Henig. Afterwards, we were all taken to another room where we all sat and listened to Joanna speak.

Joann Penn
Joann Penn

Okay, so apparently, I am the worst photographer in the world! I’ll stick to my day job.


Joanna and Mark sat in front of us on a small stage. Mark introduced Joanna properly and Joanna spoke about her evolution from being solely a nonfiction author to her writing of her nonfiction books as J.F. Penn. She talked about her book marketing strategies and how she diversified her writing into marketing and entrepeneurship. She spoke about the hard work and the many solitary hours writers spend writing, and the importance of editing and marketing ourselves. Joanna also explained that the efforts of marketing are required regardless of whether or not authors self publish or go traditional because after a month or so of being traditionally published, authors end up very much on their own nowadays to have to continue to promote their own books, and if that’s the case, why should we have to share our royalties? I was grateful to have learned all this long ago, but for new authors Joanna’s info was a goldmine.

The room was full of authors, maybe forty to fifty of us. They came from other parts of the province, not just Toronto. I thought I lived far from the event being that it was an hour and a half drive from my north suburban neighborhood to the bottom of the city but I quickly became friends with another author Wendy, who lives in Cambridge Ontario, about an hour and a half west of Toronto. I gather there was a mix of authors, well-versed in self publishing already, as well as newer ones eager to learn the business, based on some of the questions that were asked.

I was delighted to meet Joanna, as I hold her knowledge and experience in high regard and she was one of the first people in the industry I followed socially and signed up for her newsletters to learn about the business. I was interested in meeting Mark for his great information on the Kobo platform and to satisfy my questions on how their platform allows authors to run promotions. It was encouraging to learn that when I put my books on sale, the sale applies to all countries. I also like that my books will be getting a broader reach of readership when I publish with Kobo. Kobo also distributes through Indie bookstores which is another advantage for exposure to our books, as well as distributing to many other countries that my books aren’t reaching on Amazon. Being a Canadian author and having my books reach Chapters/Indigo will be a huge benefit because of Kobo’s partnership with Chapters/Indigo.

It was a lovely evening. I got some good insights and made some new friendships. Now I have another platform to learn all about.

I also want to mention, my best friend Bri came with me for moral support. Bri lives halfway downtown and I have anxiety when driving in the crowded city. I drove to Bri’s house and she drove us downtown. She actually enjoyed herself and was approached a few times by other authors while mingling, asking her what genre she writes in. She politely told them she was only there to support her author friend. I told her next time someone asks her if she’s an author to say, “No, but I’m a character in another author’s books!”

If you would like to read in more detail about the Kobo event, HERE is a link I’ve attached with a write up about it from Kobo on their own page.


21 thoughts on “My Evening at KoboWritingLife with Joanna Penn

  1. How exciting! This is such a great read! I’m going to explore Kobo a bit via the link you shared. Thank you Debby so so much, for always sharing the most salient of points in everything you write! It is inspirational to see you out there making connections and continuing to learn…along with your beautiful smile! 🙂

    You do share in such a way so as to enlighten as well as encourage anyone considering self-publishing (like me) to those more experienced (though perhaps not fully aware) of the responsibilities of self-promoting and continual learning. Even further… through my reading of your posts, I’ve really learned how important it is to read all the fine print and stay continually informed in every area. I’m sure to repeat myself so you are sick of me lol, but you are truly such an inspiration! 😉 ❤ ~


    1. Thanks sooooooo much for your kindest words! You know me, I have to give descriptions with my point of view attached to everything. That’s just who I am. You know I like to share my stories and info with readers, not to be heard, but to offer up something of interest or assistance for those who are also on this writing journey and haven’t crossed some of these roads. If I am being helpful, then I know I am doing my job! xoxo ❤ Huge ((hugs))


      1. Yes…I do know you! 🙂 And I know that you always share such pertinent information and I love it! I always learn so much and feel like with each piece you share I am that much more knowledgeable…and the more I learn makes it seem less intimidating. I suppose that’s why they say ‘knowledge is power’ lol! You are always so generous with your knowledge, experience, and support…I admire and appreciate you! Huge hugs and wishes for an amazing weekend!! ❤ xoxo! ~


      2. You’re so welcome dear friend…I’m so happy to be able to share with you my appreciation for all you share for myself…for everyone!! 😀 ! Thank you so much for the wishes…sending the same to you! ❤ xo ~


  2. Glad to hear the event was worthwhile. Any other takeaways from the event? What is your experience using KOBO? Have you experienced any success? Although I enjoy using their dashboard because it is so user-friendly, sales on KOBO have been lagging behind Amazon and iTunes. I was curious if other authors have fared better.


    1. HI Adam. Thanks for dropping by. I can’t answer those questions yet because I haven’t published with them yet. I plan on doing so next month. I’ve been reading a lot of feedback from authors who publish there and they all agree the reach for our books is a broader scope in areas Amazon doesn’t provide. It’s number 2 in Canada for ereaders and our books get listed in several Indie store libraries, a big plus. Not to mention Chapters Indigo, Canada’s biggest book chain (think your old Borders) and WH Smith (U.K.) Exposure is key and Kobo is continually growing. They are someone to keep in mind. I have learned of a few authors with their work on Smashwords, unchecking Kobo when publishing there to publish direct with Kobo for ease of making changes and higher royalties.


  3. Great. I’m glad it all went well. I see you there in the front row and with your flashy turquoise heels. I’m glad you had a traveling buddy and made good contacts.


    1. Lol, thanks Elaine. Yes it was fun and informative and also really good to get out and mingle with like-minded people in the ‘real world.’


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