As recorded in my last entry, I am releasing The Heidelberg Gap, Nick Temple File no. 6, one “episode” at a time on Kindle Vella. To date I have published 14 episodes. The book has attracted only three readers so far, and no reader has gone beyond the free first three episodes. That’s not a complaint. It’s merely an observation. Of course I’m hoping for more readers. Only time will tell if that’s going to happen.
When I posted the first three episodes, I think I made some marketing errors. First, I chose the keywords to be associated with the book – you’re allowed up to seven – in a format based on Kindle’s example. The example was two words merged together as one. So, that’s how I entered my book’s keywords, even though it seemed kind of clumsy. Well, after looking around at other entries, I noticed many of them had keywords that were more than one word that were not merged together as one. So, I went back and revised mine to eliminate the merged keywords. Second, the keywords I chose, after some reflection, were things that interested me about my book. I have since revised those keywords to reflect, I hope, broader reader interests that my book might appeal to. Frankly, the most popular works on Kindle Vella so far seem to be in the romance and fantasy genres. We’ll see if a Cold War espionage thriller can break through!
The process of producing and posting a new episode is easy and smooth. And, since I’ve already written most of the episodes, it’s another opportunity to do some serious editing before posting. In my case, that’s been a great feature of Kindle Vella, and I think the results have been good so far. Editing a single episode or chapter at a time really allows me to focus on the content, structure, delivery, and continuity of a small chunk of writing. That, at least for me, is better than sitting down and having the whole of the manuscript screaming for attention at once. Another unique feature is the ability to include author’s comments at the end of an episode. The idea is to provide extra context, or simply some observation that might prove helpful or interesting to the reader. I’ve enjoyed coming up with those and, as always, I hope readers enjoy them too.
Finally, I’m not certain what algorithm Kindle uses to place a work in relation to the others in the same genre. For instance, as of this writing, there are about 600 entries in the historical fiction genre. They are presented online in pages with 25 entries on each page. The episodes of The Heidelberg Gap started out near the bottom of the 4th page of entries and they have moved up to near the top of that page. There’s probably a link somewhere that explains the process, but I have yet to see it.
Overall, it’s been a good experience at least from my point of view as a writer. I have no idea if this is the wave of the future, or a small fad that will come and go, or something in between those two. Whatever it is, I’m hanging in there, hopeful that more readers will decide to take my book for a test drive and maybe even sign up for the entire work. I’ll keep you posted.