Along with everything else they are launching this week, Amazon also launched a new service called “Kindle Serials (Great Reads, One Episode at a Time)”. Their description:
“Kindle Serials are stories published in episodes. When you buy a Kindle Serial, you will receive all existing episodes on your Kindle immediately, followed by future episodes as they are published. Enjoy reading as the author creates the story, and discuss episodes with other readers in the Kindle forums.”
First, yes you need to submit to them. You cannot opt into this through KDP.
Web serials, also called webfic and litfic, have a long tradition on the internet. Websites like Tuesday Serial, Web Fiction Guide, EpiGuide, Muse’s Success list such endeavors. Such type of fiction is huge business in countries like China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan with millions of users and stories that go into the millions of words. In the US, we have websites like Wattpad who, by hosting the stories on their site, allow users (readers and writers) to “Connect, collaborate and share interactive stories or stumble across the newest trends in fiction.”
Now Amazon is entering the fray. I do have a few thoughts about what I’ve discovered after poking through the Amazon information:
NOTE 1: The price listed is for ALL updates, not one episode. In other words, you better be pricing the offering as a novel from the start:
“This book is a Kindle Serial. Kindle Serials are stories published in episodes, with future episodes delivered at NO ADDITIONAL COST. This serial currently contains one episode out of an estimated six total episodes, and new episodes will be delivered every month.” (Emphasis mine.)
This is unlike other models in Asia where there is a micropayment per episode, and the episodes tend to be under 1000 words. This encourages long sagas that the readers in those markets lap up. With Amazon, the way the payment structure is set up, it does not encourage the longer works. The size of the episodes brings us to the next note…
NOTE 2: Episode “Chapters” are 10,000 words (in science fiction this is a novelette). Personally I really wish Amazon didn’t have that threshold so high. In webfic the installments are usually under 1000 words with the average between 300-800 words. A better compromise would have been a more typical chapter length, such as between 2500-5000 words. This would have equalled an average webfic monthly output using the averages I mentioned (Oh horrors! Here comes the math! Once a week: 800×4=3200. Three times a week: 500x3x4=6000 words. Five days a week: 300x5x4=6000 words).
NOTE 3: The program is non-exclusive. Which means the stories can appear for sale on other websites. Someone who was contacted months ago by Amazon for this program says they can even set a first episode free to garner interests, as well as release a separate book for sale. Authors set the price. These are very good things.
It has some good and bad points so far, but I don’t think Amazon really thought this all the way through. There are very successful models of this all over the world. A hybrid of what Amazon came out with and the types of setups seen in Asian markets would have been nice to see.
I’m in the planning stages for a webfiction serial for this website (as an experiment), but I think I can do better releasing collections of ‘episodes’ than this. Plus, I can engage with the fans on my own website and hopefully interest them in my other books (and maybe encourage them to sign them up for the newsletter). I like the idea of holding the demographic and subscriber information instead of a third party that won’t share (Amazon does not share this with publishers). Plus, discussion on the Kindle forums? As an author, I shudder in horror as overall, we are not welcome there and the oversight of moderators is notoriously bad (if they ever bother to show up).
Whether Amazon Serials would be worth using would depend on how much push Amazon gives the program and if they can get a handle on their forums. They did well in not requiring an exclusive to the content. As a writer, I’m interested in the concept, but it all comes down to the details of the deal.
Each writer will need to make up their own mind on if this program is for them or not.
Kelsey Hale thinks she’s just a typical mixed-up teenager. Everyone feels that way, her teachers assure her. Yet, strange things happen to her, like food disappearing before she can eat it and hearing music no one else hears.
Then a giant flaming bird drops an alien at her feet. Well, good grief, how can you ignore something like that?
Abducted from Earth, the only planet she’s ever known, Kelsey finds herself thrust into the middle of a deadly conflict among alien worlds and parallel universe. She must not only survive herself, but also find a way to rescue her father from a dangerous group with unknown motives.
In the process, she’s confronted by a hidden secret about herself which will shake the very foundation of who and what she thought she was.
And connecting it all are the mysterious Weavers.
A 97,100 word, 389 page (approximate), science fiction novel.