I’ve heard it said that we all have at least one book in us. As a teenager, I avidly consumed Anne Rice’s books, and would marvel at the italicized list of her books in the front matter of each paperback. I would check them off one by one as I read them, and dream of being as prolific a novelist. Then, on the other side of the spectrum is Andrew Davidson, a Canadian novelist who has published only one novel so far, 2008’s The Gargoyle. It was a literary sensation at the time, and cemented its place as one of my favorite novels for its thought provoking and poignant mélange of reincarnation, true love, religious mysticism, medieval theology, and a bit of modern medical drama. That’s the kind of teenager I was in 2008-I watched “General Hospital” every day, and was also fascinated by religious mystics like Teresa of Avila, so Davidson’s novel was rather uniquely positioned to be one of my favorite books! So, whether one writes dozens of novels, or just the one, I am greatly encouraged by the idea that we all have the potential to write something!
I am working on a fantasy novel, and began a draft in July during National Novel Writing Month’s smaller yearly event Camp NaNoWriMo. I liked the experience and what I wrote, but I decided to try starting another draft with a view to publishing each chapter as a serial episode through Amazon’s serial reading platform, Kindle Vella.
Vella was launched in July 2021. It hosts every category of fiction imaginable, including the popular genres that are the bread and butter of Kindle Direct Publishing and Kindle Unlimited, like romance, mystery, and fantasy. Readers can read stories chapter by chapter, and though the first few chapters are free to read after a certain point additional chapters are only unlocked through ‘coins.’ So, in that respect Vella is very similar to what readers must be used to from platforms like Radish, Webtoon, and Wattpad, as well as visual novel mobile games.
Moreso than aiming to be an overnight self-publishing sensation, I hoped that writing and publishing through Kindle would help me write my story in an episodic format: engaging chapters that move the plot along and keep readers invested with a ‘hook’ at the end. That’s the pace I am used to from writing fanfiction.
I’d previously used Kindle Direct Publishing to publish an m/m erotic romance. I was very proud of that work, which grew out of fandom. I had a lot of dedicated readers who, for many years, were also dear friends in that space, and the effort of publishing that particular work was mostly a ‘thank you’ gift to them for staying loyal and supportive through a nasty bout of cyberbullying. I made less than $20 from the sales of that book, but every cent was precious because it was a purchase made by my friends to show me how much they loved me and my writing. I am not really interested in writing erotica anymore, nor am I using the social media platform where this fandom mostly gathered. So, I’m sad to be stepping away from people who supported me through both creative and personal upheavals, but they always encouraged me to do what was best for me, and change seems to be the key to peace for me, right now.
In any case, I opened a new Amazon Kindle Publishing Account for my new pen name. Big mistake! Dear reader, if you are interested in publishing through Amazon, do not do this! I later learned one is only supposed to possess one Amazon KDP account at a time. I suffer from anxiety, and scary ‘what if’ scenarios started to swirl around my head of any success I do manage to attain as an indie author being shut down by the IRS for my rookie error. I frantically deleted my previous Amazon shopping account, in hopes that would save the day. I called Amazon KDP’s customer support hotline on a break at my full time job. The support specialist I spoke to couldn’t find any record of my old account, let alone my former pen name or any evidence of my book.
When I told him I deleted my shopping account, lightbulbs went off. It turns out that when one deletes their Amazon shopping account, it automatically deletes the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing account, as well. That’s very unfortunate for any author who accidentally does this, and loses all of their published work so far!
So, I was extremely relieved, and with any possible tax quagmires ruled out, I had a burning issue to address. My customer support specialist had the most dashing accent, but I couldn’t quite place it and I just had to ask where he was from!
“Johannesburg, South Africa,” he answered, sounding super chill and very proud of his hometown.
I gushed about how much I have always wanted to visit, and its quite true! He told me all about the beaches of South Africa and Mozambique for a little bit.
“You should come down and see the beaches,” he said amiably. Sounded nice, but I actually had to clock back into work!
Straightening out my first technical difficulty cemented that I had, indeed, taken this step. I was, and am, equal parts proud of myself and unsure of what comes next. For a year and a half, I was a freelance journalist. I wrote for a small, privately owned site, and a corporate one, and while there were some differences, the common denominator between my different jobs is that I was nursing someone else’s ‘baby’. My contributions were nearly always praised, and I believe appreciated-but I was midwifing someone else’s brainchild with every word I wrote. This is me, going out on a limb, taking a risk, bringing the characters that my sister and I created to life with each word.
Will they have the impact on a reader that the novels of Anne Rice and The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson had on me as a teenager?
I will find out, one chapter at a time!
If you want to check out chapter one of my Kindle Vella serial, Daughter of Alchemy, follow this link!
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