Celebrating with Eau de Tap

0.0000704225353521126761 cents per word. More or less.

Amazon pays bonuses to authors who publish their books on Vella. The amount depends on the number of pages read. I just received a notice about my May 2022 bonus. Ten dollars! Woo-hoo! For a book that’s about 140k long.

How shall I spend this windfall? Go to Bali? Go to Capri? Buy an original Van Gogh?

Can’t even afford a glass.

This is not the first bonus I’ve received. It’s just the smallest one because someone read seventy-nine pages of my book. I received bigger monthly bonuses when my kind cousin-in-law, and maybe somebody else, was reading A Home for an Exile’s Heart. I think the highest bonus I got was sixty bucks.

Mostly, it’s my own fault. I haven’t done enough to publicize my novel. My efforts have been pretty sporadic at best. I don’t want to do PR. I want to write but when you self-publish, you don’t have much choice. Even traditionally published authors have to do a lot of their own book promotions. Fortunately, I just found out that one of my friends on Facebook publicizes books on her site. She urged me to send her a blurb and a link to A Home for an Exile’s Hearts Vella page. I did so but I don’t know what she will do or when. I’d love to leave it all in her hands but I’ll have to do my own PR, too.

When you self-publish, you also have to design your own cover. Even with millions of stock photos available for free, it’s hard to find exactly the right one. On a $0.00 budget, I had to settle for “close enough” images.

This was my first choice. My main character, Līvija (Lee-vee-ya) Galiņa (Guh-lyñ-ah) an exile from the Soviet invasion of Latvia in 1944, is walking home from work on the snowy evening the day after Thanksgiving, 1952. Even without houses, this scene could pass for a street on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. There’s a park on the hill so she could be walking past it. However, this image was too small and busy to look like anything but a vague mess in the cameo frame it has to fit into on Vella. I had to find a more simple image.

Courtship is a dance of love, intriguing and seductive. In one chapter my characters, Līvija and her hero, Cameron Quinn, a former fighter pilot who saves her from an out-of-control car on that snowy night, dance the tango.

Not a perfect match but it will have to do.

One of these days, I will have to turn my novel into a paperback. More nitpicky work I’d rather not do but I don’t have much choice. I have to wait for my book to have been available on Vella for thirty days before I can offer it as a paperback. When will that be? Who knows? I have yet to finish revising the last chapter in order to publish it. Since so few people have been reading Exile I haven’t been motivated to wrap up that final chapter.

The last chapter may not be ready to go, but I have a tentative design for the cover.

If only I were an artist, too.

It’s time to stop lollygagging and finish that chapter, publish it, and start publicizing my book. Writing it was a labor of love but it was hard work nevertheless. I can’t let it all go to waste.

Latvian Stuff: A Hiatus

Writing about Latvian culture, traditions, and eccentricities has been a great deal of fun. My posts have received lots of attention, comments on social media, and even a bit of money. It’s also been a lot of work writing my essays, editing, and illustrating them. It’s not that I’m out of ideas, I have plenty more but blogging isn’t the only writing I do. During my six-day streak (today’s day seven) I’ve neglected my other writing.

“Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it inflames the great.”
― Roger de Bussy-Rabutin

My novel in progress that needs editing and rewriting. As Wind to Flame is a historical romance that is set during the mid-19th Century, so it requires a lot of research, which is also fun. My heroine, Thea Lowell starts out as a bumptious girl and ends up as a nurse during the Civil War. Along the way, Thea falls in love with a rancher’s son, Adam Hastings.

My exiled heroine’s Bārta’s folk costume which shows up at a critical junction in the story.

The first two-thirds of A Home for an Exile’s Heart is available on Amazon Vella. The next chapter is finished but needs more editing before I can publish it. Exile is also a historical romance but it’s set in Seattle, Washington in 1952. The heroine is a widowed Latvian World War II refugee. Līvija Galiņa’s leading man is dashing former fighter pilot Cameron Quinn. I’ve left my readers waiting too long for the next chapter.

Phew!

Today I published a story for children called, A Pocketful of Kitten. Currently, it’s under review on Amazon Vella but should go live pretty soon.

“A Pocketful of Kitten.” A freebie read on Kindle Vella.

Did I mention that I also write short stories? I did. Not in this post, but in earlier ones. Anyone who’s interested can check under the category “fiction.” I’d like to write more short stories but my ideas have a way of growing like the magical beanstalk.

Then there are such minor annoyances as cooking and eating. I have the ingredients for borscht but who knows when I’ll get around to making the soup.

Oh,  look! I’ve managed to procrastinate on that pesky chapter of Exile. And I’ve been sitting at my computer so such a long time that it’s gotten painful. I need to break for chocolate.

A short story.

Wishy-Washy About Vella

Vella is Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing’s (KDP) serialization platform. It’s strictly online and does not result in an e-book.

This is a screenshot of what Amazon’s homepage looks like on my computer. Previously where it says”Kindle Store,” it used ti sat, “Kindle Vella.” Before KDP put up this banner I searched like crazy for Vella and couldn’t find it. My book is under “historical romance.”

Even though I’ve published six chapters of my novel, A Home for an Exile’s Heart on Vella, I’m still not convinced that it was my best publishing choice. Vella seems pretty slap-dash, like the staff is still trying to figure out how to set it up and what’s required. 

I found out about Vella because I’ve already self-published several stories on KDP and they sent me an email about Vella coming soon. “Soon” being no more specific than in “several months.” That was back in May. Even though the date was unknown, KDP writers were urged to publish on Vella anyway. I published two chapters, got sick of waiting for further news, and looking in vain for my chapters, which were supposedly “live” I unpublished them. In the meantime, I queried a few agents and publishers about my novel, with no success.

I was still toying with the idea of setting up a premium block on WordPress and serializing my book here. Setting up a “donations/tips” block yielded me exactly nothing. As a friend pointed out, people who use Amazon go to the site expecting to buy things, not get them for free. Of course, there’s also Amazon’s huge number of users, which convinced me to go ahead. Even if only a fraction of them buy my book, I’d have a good size audience.

Another thing that gave me pause is the fact that “for now” Vella is only available in the USA and many of my potential readers are Latvians who live in the UK, Canada, Australia, Latvia, and other places all over the world. But, as the same friend reminded me, I want a much wider audience than just fellow Latvians. When Amazon first started out, it, too, was available only in the USA and now it’s worldwide.

Just because it’s beautiful and I hope to eventually get a few readers outside the USA>

Early in July, I received another message from KDP that the Vella store would be available, “next week.” How silly of me to expect that they’d specify what day. But I published six chapters anyway.

What’s to like about Vella.

It’s easy to use. Enter your name, pick a cover illustration, write interesting tags and a short, descriptive hook, and upload your chapters one at a time.

You can edit your cover illustration and edit chapters at any time.

A large potential audience.

Creative control.

The longshot possibility that an agent or an editor from a traditional publisher will find it. Probably no greater a long shot than trying to find an agent or editor yourself.

What’s not so likable.

Finding the Vella store seems to be a problem for some people. I’ve had Amazon bookmarked for ages and the Vella banner didn’t show up. I unbookmarked it and bookmarked it again and the banner was there.

Creative control is limited. No choice of fonts. The cover photo shows up in a small circle, so the design has to be clean and simple. My first choice for a cover photo looked great when I downloaded it from a stock site but was a confusing mess in the Vella cover photo. Too much detail.

This was my original choice for a cover photo. In the first scene the protagonist is walking home on a snowy day.

Having to wait an unknown time before Vella is available globally.

It’s a popularity contest, but then so are the bestseller lists. I’m not sure a story like mine will ever make the list. No vampires, no werewolves, no Highlanders.

Although their “faves” list includes 250 titles, they’re not categorized.

Every time you edit a chapter or the cover illustration it goes to “review” and is not available to readers. The process is pretty quick, though.

No one has made clear how payments to the author work. Since I set up a payment method when I published my KDP stories, I’m guessing that Vella payments work the same way. I do like that I don’t have to figure out how to set up a payment block.

As with all publishing, it’s a matter of wait and see.

The new cover photo.

A link to “A Home for an Exile’s Heart.”

P*issed with Vella, P*ssed with Amazon

Grrr, really ticked off!

Amazon offers what it claims is a “brand new way” to tell a story, serialized so readers can read “episode” by episode, paying as they go after the first three episodes. Except that Vella is not not-so-new. Creatives can sell their material on WordPress. They can also serialize their creations on such platforms as Patreon and Radish. There might be others I don’t know about. 

So, considering Amazon’s size and worldwide familiarity, I decided to publish my novel using Vella. It might not have been such a great choice.

My first chapter is now “live.” The only problem is that I can’t find it anywhere. It’s not under my name in the books category. I can’t find the Vella library using the Amazon search window. Where is it? I’ll be darned if I know. Nobody in the Vella “community” knows anything either.

Checking Vella Library’s help page was no help. I found info that said Vella would be available in “the next few” months. That information was not dated. There was no indication as to when Vella might be available, even though Amazon made it seem as if Vella is available now. What else would “live” mean? If you publish a story using KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) it’s available within seventy-two hours. You enter the author’s name in the Amazon search window and there’s the story.

When I created the first “episode” of my novel, I announced it to friends on my Facebook page, in a group I manage, and on eight other pages for groups whose members might be interested. I got many positive responses, people willing, even eager to read my story. What do I tell them? Sorry, I jumped the gun, Amazon doesn’t have Vella ready yet? 

I’m thinking of unpublishing my story and trying to figure out how to set up Word Press premium so people can read my novel chapter by chapter with paid subscriptions. At least I know WordPress is ready to go whenever I am. Whenever my readers are.

One thing I do like about Vella. It’s easy to use. To anyone who’s used KDP, Vella is even easier.

Besides Amazon’s misleadingness, what else I dislike about Vella is that payment for each chapter is not set. It depends on the word count. I have some chapters that are less the 1500 words, others that are almost 5k words. The author’s pay should be the same no matter how long the chapter. Pay for the whole thing at once, read the chapters as they’re published.

If A Home for an Exile’s Heart becomes available in the next day or two, I might have to eat my words. But I may still unpublish my book.

My Publishing Choice: Vella

Dream on, Writer, Dream on.

This is what I dream of, a balcony somewhere in Italy or the South of France, made possible by my royalties. Well, at least I have a balcony, even if it’s far from those places.

Deciding on how to publish my novel was a tough choice. Sure, I’d like the prestige of having a major, or even a not-so-major, traditional publishing house buy the rights to my book and pay me a royalty. But that statistic I mentioned in my previous post, that a literary agency accepts fewer than one percent of submitted manuscripts gave me pause. 

I’m not twenty-five years old. I don’t want to spend years submitting and resubmitting my manuscript to agents and hoping to be one of few writers accepted as a client. In the past year, I’ve participated in Twitter pitch parties five times, more than that, if you consider that hopeful writers can pitch one project more than once during the hours the pitch party runs. The only interest in my pitches has been from other writers. Too bad they’re not also editors from publishing houses.

There’s so much to consider when you’re looking for a publisher.

WordPress seemed like a good option since I have a few followers, it has Reader to help bloggers find each other’s posts. I can link to other social media platforms. But even with the help of a WP customer service person, I couldn’t figure out how to set up a premium block. Maybe I’m too impatient. I don’t know if I’d have to set up a block each time a published a new chapter. That would be more work than I want to do. I want to write, not set up premium blocks.

Patreon is a platform where creators can offer their material to subscribers. I seriously considered it, but when I went to their site, I could find other creators’ posts to see what they’d done. That was annoying. Anyone can look at WordPress and see what’s on offer.

Vella is Amazon’s new publishing platform where writers can serialize their books, chapter by chapter. They pay a royalty of fifty percent, although the first three chapters are a free sample. Much better pay than any traditional publisher. The writer retains creative control. I don’t have to worry about word count. There are books on the market that are much longer than mine, but selling them to a publisher isn’t easy; the acceptance rate is probably even lower than that fraction of one percent. One of my writer friends encouraged me to do with Vella because it’s new and therefore Amazon might push it more. It’s certainly in their interest to do so. They get a bigger cut than they would from books published using KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)

Considering all that, Vella seemed like a good choice, so I went with it. I published the first chapter of my novel today. It was easier than publishing with KDP, which is also easy. It can take up to seventy-two hours for the episode to go live, but I’ve published stories on Amazon before and it always took less time to be approved. It helps that the material is short.

I hope they turn into dollars.

Maybe I’ll never make more than pennies per chapter. I’ve already done some self-promotion. Hopefully, the pennies will add up and the stack will get higher as I add more chapters. If this goes well, I have another book to publish on Vella. It just needs a bit more work.

Whatever happens, I’ll keep on writing. It’s what I do.