I give a painfully honest accounting of the first week live with Kindle Vella and my new Patreon. We also talk about planning and prioritizing ideas.
Hello. All right.
He pulled that music down, I hope you can still hear it, but I want it to be a little less excited than it was. And yeah, I forgot I just had my camera when I was doing the training demo, so it was a little low when I came in. So. Hey. Hi. I see Kate in the chat. Welcome. It is Tuesday night. I’m Laura VanArendonk Baugh. This is To Write And Have Written and this is a Learn With Me week, which means we’re just going to be talking about what I’m doing and where it’s going.
So they could be exciting. We’ll find out.
I think exciting is probably the wrong word, but revelatory is revelatory. Too much, probably too much out right. When we get organized here, which you’d think I would be organized by this time, but still putting stuff together. So so, yeah, I actually do want to kind of walk through. Last week was the Learn With Me Learn With Me week, the emergency prep prep week.
Thank you, Kate. Yes, we will try to be enlightening tonight. And so I thought I would tell you how the first week of that went and then where I’m going from here, what what I’m going to be trying to do and then walk you through basically what I’m hoping to do. And I very much welcome and invite and beg for feedback as we do this. So also, you may want to make sure that you have either I know you have a device near you if you are hearing my voice, so have have a device handy or pen and paper, because we might do a little group work along exercise as well.
We’ll see how it goes. So yeah.
Velho my story went live last Tuesday as you heard. If you were here on this dream, I think probably the most generous thing one could say about the Amazon launch of Kindle Vella is that it was a soft launch, that that is an accurate statement and and probably the nicest way to put that I’m in.
I joined a number of author groups, authors who are going to try Vola. And it’s been a ride. And I’m honestly quite glad that I had a conference this past weekend because Bella and my Patreon launched on Tuesday and Wednesday. I went to the conference and didn’t have time to sit around and fret about how things were or were not going.
But let’s just have a little bit of a recap now that we’ve had time to let the statistics settle.
The Vello lunch has had some issues.
That’s probably the other way to say that the tagging system, which is the only way to search you can’t browse by genre, you can’t browse by author, you browse by tag.
And this is directly lifted from other serial sites that are that are very tag intensive. If you look at a O3 archive of our own or something, that’s all done by tagging system. So those are systems that are not that new and crazy. But but it’s not working well, a site. So a lot of a lot of the tags you can you can enter a tag, you can click on a tag, but it won’t bring up stories that are tagged with that.
So I’m hearing a lot of complaints about that. Amazon’s done basically no promotion of the system whatsoever. The platform is entirely being promoted by authors which are on it, which is a little bit odd, like my reach and Amazon’s reach are markedly different. So, guys, if you want to make some money, you need to not rely on me. OK, so that’s that’s been very interesting. The featured stories is also a little bit wonky. What we were told was that those would be selected by the stories that got the most reader feedback.
But that does not appear to be the case from authors comparing notes in these groups that I’m in, which I’m really glad I joined. I just wanted to have more than one ear to the ground to to navigate this launch and see how things were going. It’s been quite enlightening because a lot of people are being pretty open about their experiences. So I’ll be open with my experiences. I have made zero dollars and zero cents so far on Novela, despite having readers read through episodes and leave thumbs up and that sort of thing.
And part of that is.
Hasan gave every reader who wanted to start with a two hundred free tokens in theory. Not everybody was able to get their tokens, which is another thing, but that they didn’t tell us that that that was going to happen. So everybody got two hundred tokens worth of reading that I don’t get paid for. Which is interesting. And then they got to a certain point and then stopped reading, which could be that they didn’t like those episodes, or it could be that, as I said, they weren’t able to get more tokens because not only could not everybody claim their they’re free tokens, but I’m told by some readers that they were not able to purchase tokens on the system.
So I don’t quite know what’s going down here. Yeah.
So I think the short version is if if if you are interested in my cereal, please head over to Patreon and check it out, which is not only a better financial deal for you, but probably a lot more stable at this point. Sorry, Amazon. But that’s so far, you know the truth. But you know, another another author and one of my groups was very generously screenshot and her dashboard and and she has five series live in Kindle Vella right now.
Two of them have been featured series for, I think, the full week, if I recall correctly. And so she’s had a lot of read through and a lot of comments, a lot of thumbs up, a lot of favorites, not comments, but feedback. And she has made three dollars like, okay, guys, this is the thing.
I don’t like that they launched only on Apple and not on Android because Apple’s the one that takes an additional 30 percent of revenue away from the authors. Just a lot of this has felt very I’m very glad that I didn’t put everything else on hold to try to make this work.
Yeah, I definitely wanted to try it. Definitely wanted to see where it’s going. But I’ve been watching authors bail off this ship for the past week, and it’s it’s very interesting.
So I’m not going to I’m not going to quit and just sit there and it’s not costing me anything to just stay in here. You know, if anything, it helped prompt me to launch my Patreon. So I’m going to I’m going to stay in it and see where it goes. But I am a little bit surprised at how awkward this first week has been.
So so, yeah, that’s that’s the thing that happened. So we’ll go with that.
The other thing. Oh, and this.
This. I have strong feelings about this one, not not just because it was a soft launch and you left everything in the hands of an intern and it didn’t go well like that, that’s an issue. But sometimes launches are weird and we all know that go live is rough. This is something that should not be allowed to happen, especially given everything that is going on with Audiblegate, where they’ve I mean, there is no way I can summarize Audiblegate in two sentences.
But the very short version is authors are not getting paid for their work. And one of the many ways that that was happening was audible, promoting the easy returns. Listen to an audio book, exchange it, listen to an audio book, exchange it, listen to an audio book, exchange it. And one of the test cases that people were experimenting with to, you know, to protest this to Amazon. And she had read four or five books on a single credit and Amazon just kept improving them.
And so that is finally starting like there are some hints that that might be changing at this point. But, hey, Villa just launched this week, and that’s been going on for a long time with lots of protests. So surely they wouldn’t do that with fellow. But again, somebody in one of my group screen capped. You know, you can see the you know, the episode or, you know, the number of reads, the number of returns, OK, and then in your in your dashboard.
And she had at least one reader go through and read and return every single episodes. They read her entire serial that she uploaded the entire thing for free without a single penny of revenue. And how how does this like, you know, if you don’t like it, great. Like, first of all, just stop reading. Mean, that’s the easy thing. If it really offends you and you need to return it, fine. But if it really offends you, why would you go on to read 40 more of them?
So, yeah, that’s that that makes me angry because that just shows they’re doing the exact same thing. But in another venue and I’m just not sure I’m going to want to be a part of that, but I’m going to wait and see where things go. And hopefully that gets sorted very quickly. But yeah, guys, this is why I’m not Amazon exclusive. I hear people ask once in a while, like, why don’t you do Laura? And I’m like, oh, like, here’s the short answer right here.
So anyway, so it was going to answer any questions people had about Vola and how that’s been going. But I did want to give you an update on how that’s been going.
I’m not I’m not that angry.
I’m not, you know, taking my ball and going home. But I am glad that I went in with a much more reasonable investment and I didn’t stop doing everything else that I was doing for this.
So, yeah. So that’s the thing. So lacking a pile of questions about Vella, we will move on to other things that we’re going to do tonight. So I did launch soft launch a Patreon, so meaning I didn’t do a lot of build up to it. I didn’t promote it super hard. I didn’t, you know, be like everybody has to join this now. I kind of just put out an email saying, hey, this is up on Vola.
And also you can get it on Patreon and we’ll see where this goes. Oh, hi, P.J., welcome. Yeah, it is pretty crazy.
Like not going it’s not going to lie. I was a little I didn’t expect to be super slick in the first week, but but this was a little more than I had signed up for, so. But we’ll see. I’m going to stick it out. And and it’s not again, it’s not hurting me to be there. I’m just, you know, got to be careful to keep my head. We’re in a good place when I go look at my dashboard.
So, like, hey, look at all these people reading chapters that I’m like in paper.
So, yeah, but but it did prompt me to go ahead and launch my Patreon, which I have been, you know, I honestly like three, four years ago I thought about doing that and I kept not doing it for reasons. So this was the kick in the pants that I needed. So if nothing else it had that good result.
So yeah, as I said, very soft launch for my Patreon. And so I had a pretty soft start for my Patreon. Like on the one hand it’s thrilling because everybody who signed up signed up at the highest level tier that I thought was just largely going to be there for decoration and to make the other tiers look affordable. You know how that goes. So that’s amazing.
On the flipside of that, everyone is a very it is technically a plural, but it is not much of a plural.
Okay, so so again, like, I didn’t even have expectations rolling into that. So so that’s that’s where that is. And so but I do need to since I’m officially on a Patreon now, I do have monthly commitments that I need to uphold and meet. And so it was good for me in that on that front, I guess, if that’s the way to say that.
So, yeah. So I have a where.
Let me just see if I can get this over here. Oh hi.
Thanks Evernote. God bless Evernote. My life runs on Evernote. Do you guys in the chat have Evernote? Because if you don’t, you need it. I will give you. Yes, I do have patrons. Yes. Thank you for pointing that out. No, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful in the least. I am the opposite of ungrateful. I’m just also like kind of laughing at myself for having, you know, a couple of patrons.
But honestly, I’ve had my Patreon open, like officially acknowledged for a week. And actually I should back up and just say that doing that was one of the scariest things I’ve done in recent years. And my author career like like seriously, because if I I think I’m going to try to articulate what kind of feels just like a really messy pile of emotions. But I’m going to try to put that put it into words. But I think what’s going on is if I send a story out to an anthology or a small press or whatever, and if that gets rejected one, I know rejection is perfectly normal and there’s a whole slew of reasons that it can be rejected and it’s absolutely not personal and all of those things.
And you just expect like, you know, rejection is an absolutely normal part of this business. And also it’s private, like nobody posts. Hey, I rejected Laura’s story. You should all point and laugh like that, go out on social media or anything. But Patreon is very, very visible. And while you can turn off the display, how many patrons I have, you know, kind of data on your page, that’s generally not recommended because people are more likely to support you if they see that someone else is supporting you.
So that’s just it’s the same reason that hunters put little ducks on the pond, you know, those sorts of things, like we like company. Nobody wants to be the first one to do something. But what that means is you kind of have to start somewhere. And so, no, I am super grateful for those early adopters and for those early patrons. And they’re fantastic. And I love them and I know nothing. If I said anything that sounded ungrateful, that was not what I meant to do.
So launching. Launching is saying, OK, I’m going to open this up where everybody can see, hey guys, go look at my Patreon page, please notice no patrons.
And what if they. And what if then I don’t get patrons. Right. Like, that’s going to remain very public and very visible. And so I sent out this link to my newsletter of thousands of people who are all looking at me, not having patrons. And and, yeah, that was that was just a that was much more of a I’m just going to trust fall into my career and my readers than than sending off a story feels like to an editor.
So I think I hope that makes sense.
But anyway, yeah. So I have my my new monthly task list here in Evernote and actually I don’t need to do this. I was able to automate this boom. So that is great. So I can do anything that I can automate makes my life better. Yes. I do not want a huge tax list. So so the way I have it set up, I’ve got six different tears in my on my Patreon page. And you can get access to I’m going to do chats where people can ask about characters or motivations or whatever we’re going to do live life hangouts.
We’re going to get access to the serial, which is a better deal on Patreon than it is on Valla. Sorry guys, it’s true. And you know, there will be additional stories. There will be audio content in all of these things coming out. So I need to automate as much as possible because I really don’t want to sit and just do administrative work all the time instead of creating all the stuff that now I’ve signed myself up for. So I’m using World Anvil to distribute my, uh, my cereal.
I thought about doing it directly at my original plan was to do it on my website and give people access. You know, if you sign up at Patreon, then you get a certain membership level on the website that allows you access to read these things. That was possible, but it was going to be complicated. I thought, well, maybe I could give you access if you if you are Patreon, you get so many tokens, credits, you know, fill in the blank that you can use then to purchase things on my website.
So they would be available for sale to anyone. But you could use you could get them for included with your Patreon. Here again, very possible it was going to take some infrastructure and maintenance that I wasn’t sure. And then the my big complaint about those was all of those things to the individual episodes would be separated. You wouldn’t be able to just binge read through twenty episodes if you wanted to. You’d have to go out and get the next one to go out and get the next one go out to get the next one.
And a World Anvil. They have a manuscript feature where you can just basically read it as a book online. And so yeah, let’s do that because I want people to be able to have a nice, streamlined experience.
So I have it set up that when somebody signs up as a patron, they get a link and a code to enter into World Anvil that puts them into a subscriber group that gets access to that private content. So the first four episodes, I believe, are free, not locked down. So anybody can read those. But then to read after that, it’s private and you have to be in a certain subscriber group. The account on World Anvil is free, but your patron Taira gets you access to that.
So hopefully that makes that makes sense.
So, yeah, so I’ve just I’m experimenting with things there and that is definitely going to change in the next few months as I experiment with things. Not that I’m going to take away content. I don’t mean that, but just I’m going to find more efficient ways to do things. So that is that is my plan there.
And then I have a really big question and I don’t know, like I’m not going to make a decision tonight, but I definitely want feedback from you guys who are here. And that is what do you want from this show? So I just realized while I was setting stuff up, turning things on for tonight, I was like, yeah, I’m getting close to, like, having done this streaming thing for a year. And I was like, wait, I should be really close to that.
And I went and I looked it up two days, two days. It will be roughly my one year anniversary. And I say roughly because I don’t know which stream. I’m technically accounting is my first. But I think the first one that was like my dedicated author stream and not connected to Gen Con, Gen Con or anything else, we’re going to call that July 22nd. And because that’s the first highlighted clip I found. So that’s going to be our first day.
And and so, yeah, today is the 20th and that was the twenty second. So we’re basically closing on a year and this has gone places that I totally did not. I never I never expected to make affiliate on Twitch because I’m not playing games and I’m not cool, but yeah that worked out. So thank you guys. I have over two hundred followers here and over three hundred followers on YouTube where the replays happened. That’s amazing. So yeah, definitely grateful for all of that stuff.
That’s not it’s not anything I’m disregarding in any way. But also the world has shifted a little bit. I think I started streaming because we were in the throes of pandemic. Still, most of the world is and and I’m not going to lie and pretend the pandemic pandemics over US cases jumped 70 percent last week. Guys, guys, like get your vaccines anyway.
So but I know that other people are not as home as much either. And and people’s needs and schedules are changing. And so I just kind of want to touch base and be like, what do people want out of this? I originally started doing this. I was going to write a business guide for authors like like, hey, you wanted to write stories. Nobody told you that that meant you had to be an entrepreneur. And so here are some ways to think about business.
And so that was going to be a book. And I actually wrote a good chunk of it. And then that turned into this dream when I started streaming. So that’s that’s where this was coming from. Oh, no. Okay. So she doesn’t know there was going to be a live quiz. OK, this is the opposite of where I am. I am introducing the content that eventually I will want an answer. I’m going. But but yeah, I like to be to be honest, this is a big, big time sink for me and I am no longer sitting at home like I was this time last year.
But there are parts of this that are more time consuming than others. By far. One of the biggest pieces of time consumption is, you know, I always do a manual check on the closed captions that I upload to YouTube because I know the closed captions that are going out like right now are I think crack is just the easiest way to say it. They are not good captions and they’re not really helpful to anyone who might need closed captioning. So I do have a paid service that I use for transcriptions and closed captioning.
But because I sometimes get really excited when I talk and because also we use vocabulary, that’s not your standard fortune. Five hundred vocabulary here. It’s good if somebody does a human review of those captions before we commit to them.
And that gets especially when I have guests on.
So we’ve got multiple people talking over each other and all of that.
I may spend three hours fixing those captions up and that’s a lot of time, honestly, for something that doesn’t really pay. And so immediately I’m just looking at things like what what can be the best use of my time? I feel like closed captioning is