Conversations, Kindle & Coffee

Kindle & Coffee Conversations: Lessons Learned by a Serial Author

Conversations: Lessons Learned by a Serial Writer
New author frustration

Do any of these questions sound familiar:

If you build it, will they come?
Is it worth it to keep writing?
What if I don’t have any readers?
Should I keep writing?
Why isn’t this working for me?

If the answer is yes, you have come to the right place!

These are the same anxiety inducing questions I asked in the beginning. I still ask them on ocaission because I see so many authors succeeding on Kindle Vella, despite it being a new platform. At this point, I could say that I’m even doing well. But how do I do better?

How do we do better on a rand new platform?

These are the kinds of questions that I found, and more after stumbling on the Kindle Vella Community which is moderated and supported (albeit limitedly) by Amazon. One of the replies I posted there actually prompted me to get started with this blog which is providing information on Kindle Vella current as of October 10, 2021.

I’m going to address a few of these questions by answering even more important ones and offer a few tidbits of information. Let’s get started!

Kindle Vella remains a brand new, shiny service offered by Amazon in an attempt to provide authors with a market for serial works. When it comes to publishing, this was the one place Amazon fell flat by not offering serial writers a space to publish their work.

This service is so brand new that it remains in soft launch with the ability to read Vellas on the mobile Kindle App for iOS, not MacOS, just iOS and in your web browser for users in the United States. This means that there is not functionality to access Vellas on the Kinde App for Android or the Amazon App itself. It also means that unless you are using a VPN, in theory, you aren’t able to read Vella Episodic content outside of the US.

Kindle Vella works via micro transactions. This means that if you wish to continue reading an episodic story after the first three free episodes, you need to spend tokens to unlock additional content. While each new reader is provided 200 free tokens, in order to keep reading after those 200 free tokens you’ll need to purchase tokens directly from Amazon.

To make the browsing experience easier, authors have the ability to add tags to their story which are an easy single click search for stories with similar tags.

In theory, this service could grow to become something amazing, but it is still new. Which leads us to our next question:

Yes? No? Maybe?

In all honesty the answer to this question depends on who you ask. If an author is doing really well and they’re bringing in royalties and bonuses, they’re likely to say no

If they’re not doing well, but are seeing a little bit of exposure and the beginnings of readership, an author may say yes.

But if you’re a new author who isn’t seeing any traffic and aren’t benefitting from the bonuses, you’ll say no.

How do we objectively figure out what the answer is?

My explanation is this: Do you remember the Kindle Unlimited launch? Think back to 2012 and the announcement for Kindle Unlimited. Do you remember it? Do you remember the soft launch? Unless you’re someone who is glued to the writing market, the answer to that question is likely no.

In the beginning it was the same: a growing pool of authors and not many readers. Once advertising kicked in from Amazon AND the launch became more widespread, readership increased.

In the case of Kindle Vella, Amazon has just begun running ads. That’s right! Actual ads for the service itself outside of the ‘it’s coming soon!’ This is a huge step forward as it’s the first round of ads that exist outside of existing author platforms.

This is a sign that we’ll see additional features, support and/or region releases in the future. That said, if the launch plan is similar to the one used for Kindle Unlimited, I’d expect to see additional regions opening up in the near future. For example, Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia. Based on the signs, I believe this will occur before a more widespread device support but anticipate seeing at least Android OS support early in the new year. Based on coding, it may tame a bit longer to see release to Kindle Devices themselves, which is a bit more than frustrating for existing Kindle owners that wish to use their devices to read Vellas.

As an author, this is the most important question that we can have answered. These guidelines come directly from the Guidelines for Kindle Vella.

To clarify, one thing to keep in mind is that you cannot post your manuscript containing the content of your Vella for pre-sale before posting, your Vella will not be approved for publication.

Please Note: Each episode of your Vella is reviewed independently. If you update your author message or the publication date, the episode will be reviewed again. Major changes can cause the previous thumbs up on episodes to fall off. This is a known issue and has been reported to Amazon. Hopefully we’ll see this resolved in the near future.

As an author you have the ability to request a paper check, but the best way to be paid is via direct deposit. The benefits of direct deposit over a paper check is that you do not have to wait to meet the minimum payment of $100.

You will be notified in your Kindle Vella Reports on or around the 15th of the month of any bonus monies you are eligible for.

Two months form from the date of the bonus total, you’ll be paid on or around the 29th of the month.

This September I received payment for my July 2021 sales and I look forward to receiving my August royalties on or around the 29th of October.

While we don’t know how the bonus will be impacted outside of the launch period identified by Amazon, they have been a great pick me up as a newly published author under my own name. We definitely look forward to seeing how things change or improve at the start of the new year.

If you are a resident of the United States, the rules of when and how taxes are paid are pretty strict. They likely are outside of the US, but tother countries are not my forte.

So, here’s what I know. If you make more than 400$ as an author, (business entity), despite your age or exemption status, you are required to file taxes.

The difference that you need to be aware of is that these payments are ones that need to be made quarterly. I still haven’t figured out how expenses fall into all of this yet as this is the first time I’m filing as my own entity. My previous writing exploits were filed based on W2s as I was hired by a corporation to work with the authors I ghost wrote for.

Expenses verse income are definitely things I’ll need to figure out in the future, but when it comes down to it, these are questions for an accountant. I encourage you to make sure that you reach out to one so that you can make the appropriate decisions

Keep in mind that not filing quarterly can result in penalties. YAY for tax law that no one understands…

There are a number of opportunities for authors to post their episodic work including WattPad, Tapas, InkItt, and more. One of the biggest benefits is the already established community and more polished services. It will take time for Kindle Vella to catch up to these providers. That said, these services are free and count on ad revenue to stay up with the exception of InkItt who offers free and paid content.

Selecting a platform can be difficult. We chose Kindle Vella specifically for the planned/hoped for future Kindle App and Device support for the service which in theory will offer our work to a larger pool of reader.

Currently the number of readers consists overwhelmingly of authors and the readers that they have funneled directly into the platform. These efforts are a great start at increasing the reader pool, but not all readers are open to consuming work by other authors.

At this point, Amazon is just beginning to run ads for the service. I’ve finally seen one. I was a bit more than excited. And while the Kindle and Amazon names make readers more likely to check out this new service, there’s still going to be some distrust when it comes to a new author.

Not every author coming to Kindle Vella comes with an already amassed following them. Without this kind of readership or established writing, some writers may also not be willing to go out on a limb and invest emotionally or monetarily into an unknown. This is due to the concern readers have that a new author may not follow through with their writing.

For example, it isn’t as uncommon as we would like it to be to see an author start a story, and then walk away without publishing additional episodes. In many cases this happens without the author providing a way for readers to reach them through social media or otherwise. While some of these stories which readers perceive to be abandoned may not stay that way, others will, Because of this, they may not be willing to take a chance on new work.

How to get around this trepidation, make sure that you have a way for readers to reach you within your Author notes.

Promote! Promote! Promote!

Have I mentioned promote? The majority of us aren’t authors with our own following, nor do we have social media managers handling the growth of our accounts for us. But there is one important thing that no one ever explains when it comes to social media and that is ‘How?’.

The answer to that depends on which venue you post to.

For Twitter: #authorlift #writerlift are amazing tags to search for. There are opportunities to follow and be followed by other writers who are already building their platform. You can also pin a post announcing your work and then advertise a pin for pin retweet for other writers and content creators.

Once your pin is posted you can ask the writing community to trade pin for pin, that you follow back and add and repost from the replies to your tweet. This can help build a following of authors and extend your reach presence on Twitter.

Here’s an example of the text from that kind of post:

I have a new Pinned Post promoting my novel The Explorers, an #episodic#thriller. Hey #WritingCommunity, #Review or #ReadingCommunity I’d like to trade a :pin: for a :pin:

I follow back!

#writerslift#writerslife#kindlevella#bookreviewer#serialreviewer

On Instagram, follow authors who write in the same genre, engage them and their followers and make sure to use tags that bring readers to you. For example I wrote dark fiction which tows the thriller, horror and suspense side of things. Here is an example of tags that I use: #kindle #kindlevella #kindlevellastories #reader #amreading #readingcommunity #writercommunity #suspense #thriller #horror #mystery. Additional tags are catered to the post itself.

On FaceBook there are a number of Kindle Vella Reader and Writers groups. This one is my favorite:

In addition to these groups there is also a KindleVella Reddit.

The potential is endless if you’re willing to get out there and self promote.

So, how do you take this a step further? How do you continue to grow your exposure?

Check out Discord. There are a number of author groups where you can meet and interact with other authors one on one. Trade critiques, review their stories and promote their stories on your social media. Doing so can increase your reach and a lot of the the time these authors return their favor and their readers may even follow you as well. It’s definitely worth the time to cultivate the relationships with other authors as they’ll tell you what worked for them if they ask.

If you’re a horror writer, you can message me about the Horror Kindle Vella Authors Discord and I’ll be glad to talk all things crazy.

If you’d like to request a review for your Vella or other Serial work, check out our FAQ as information on how to submit requests are listed there.

What else can you do? That is up to you. So far, ads haven’t been panning out, but this can be because of the newness of the platform and the limited reach of the soft launch.

One things I can tell you is that the more you interact with others, the better that you can do.

FEW! This was a lot. I’m hoping that something in this post has helped you as an author.

Leave additional questions and comments below and I’ll do my best to address them in the future.

Until next time, have an exciting week. Just not as exciting as X’s.