Some of you may know that Amazon stopped crediting free reads for Kindle Vella. To clarify, that means reads for free episodes, much like tokens used to unlock episodes, will no longer count towards bonuses. This is a big deal, because while free, those three episodes work to get a reader invested in a story. And in many cases, readers don’t go beyond the first episode, or stop at the third.
An author may get hundreds of free reads in a month, thanks to adverts or organic browsing. These used to factor into our overall bonus, which can be as little as $5 to several thousand dollars. Authors who make up in the upper thousands saw lower bonuses since the update went through recently. Some have since left the platform out of disgust, but others remain firm and work to adapt readers to serialization.
I’m not quite there myself yet, but I do rather well. As mentioned in an earlier post, 2023 has been the best year for Vella (for me), and I joined the program at launch, back in 2021. My first bonus was less than $50. Now my average is $600 a month. Not much to live on, but it helps pay bills and writing expenses.
The bonus pool used to be bigger and increased each month, but it’s stayed at the same rate for months now. People insist it’s shrinking, but that’s not true at all. There are just more writers on the platform, some of which are just copy/pasting drivel from ChatGPT and other “AI” programs. Amazon cracked down on that by removing episode uploads from the bonus algorithm. They also removed most of the bot stories from last year, though a few obvious ones persist.
Some of the better ones are gaining likes and faves, presumably from family and friends, or paid accounts. It’s really easy to find someone willing to help with this scheme through forums like Reddit. I should know; I’ve done a few easy task in exchange for a few dollars here and there, or some serious gains that required monetary investment.
My prediction? If it gets to be an issue, Amazon could nix likes and maybe faves from the bonus algorithm, leaving unlocks to be the defining factor, along with follows and other unknown metrics. I honestly wouldn’t be too upset about that. Locked reads and likes are my main priorities, but if I had to choose one over the other...unlocks would top all. Follows are nice, but I don’t keep track of those. My numbers are all over the place from playing Facebook games.
Oh, I should probably mention my bonus for last month. Despite having slightly lesser reads all around, I still made $22 more than April’s bonus. I fully expected to get something closer to what I made in March, which was closer to my average, but nope! June wasn’t a great month for me, however. My stats were one of the worse for this year, better than January, but nothing compared to my better months.
You see, I wrapped up three Vellas in May, and while I had a decent backlog for two of those, I didn’t advertise as aggressively in the first two weeks. I prioritized games where locked reads were required, over ones that allowed freebies. Since freebies are useless now (in terms of bonuses), I didn’t want to screw my numbers up even more than they already were. And I plan on keeping it that way.
I’ll make an update when bonuses drop later this month. I want to confirm something, which involves the ideal number of Vellas to have available. At least three, updating once or twice a week, used to be the ideal. That’s what I stuck with for a while, before piling on extra Vellas, which pushed me to my limit...I will go back to updating twice a week for Last Train Home, once The Threads That Weave is completed. I don’t want to overwhelm myself again, so I’m playing it safe for now!
And ideally I’d get more sign ups for my Ream, but all in good time! Keep an eye out for the last week or so of July to see my thoughts on Vella.