Kindle’s Serial Killer

Kindle Serials

Kindle Serials are stories published in episodes. When you buy a Kindle Serial, you will receive all existing episodes on your Kindle immediately, followed by future episodes as they are published.

Wait for it.

This is from the submission guidelines:

A minimum of two episodes in a Word or text document. Each episode should be a minimum of approximately 10,000 words. We’re open to considering projects with more or fewer words per episode, where it makes sense. The complete book doesn’t need to be already written.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me. If you do a ten-episode book, you’re selling 100,000 words for a measly $1.99.

If you’re not getting that, here’s a slide from Bezos to help you with the word count math:

Bezos has just lowered the floor for eBook prices again.

I don’t see any reason for any writer to do this.

Right now, we don’t know the writer’s cut.

Even so, do you really want to help make eBooks have a maximum price of $1.99?

That is just suicidal.

And to invoke the name of Dickens?

His life must have been like this, having to do serials:

It’s one thing if a writer decides to sell a book for $1.99.

But for Amazon to set an official price like this is not in the best interest of any professional writer.


  1. CJJ8 September, 2012

    Looks like they already changed it.

    ” A minimum of two episodes in a Word or text document. We want each episode to be a length that provides a satisfactory read. The right episode length will vary from book to book, depending on what’s right for the story. The complete book doesn’t need to be already written.”

    1. Mike Cane8 September, 2012

      Well, that is very, very interesting. Thanks.

  2. Chris Meadows8 September, 2012

    Even if it were $1.99 for a full novel-length book, there are plenty of self-publishing writers who decide to sell their own books at 99 cents, $1.99, or $2.99. Some even give their books away free sometimes. If one of those writers thinks that the extra attention from being a Kindle Serial might cause more people to buy it or his other books, then how’s that different from any other promotional discount?

  3. carmen webster buxton8 September, 2012

    I think your concern might be valid for nonfiction writers but fiction is notoriously less well paid in short form, and it doesn’t sound like these will be complete novels if they only require two “episodes.” A short story sold to a genre magazine is going to be paid at about 5 to 10 cents a word, max, which means for a 5,000 story, the writer will get $250 to $500. Of course, he usually also retains rights to sell the story to an anthology if he can find one, or include it in a collection of his own short works.

    Personally, I just don’t see the appeal of serial fiction. If I like the story, I want to keep reading. Although if Amazon is requiring these “episodes” have a satisfactory conclusion in each chunk, I can see making a case for them being a new kind of fiction, more like what is sometimes called a “fix-up” (a collection of related short stories cobbled together and sold as if it were one book) than a novel. I’m not sure Dickens is a good comparison, as my understanding is that he sold books in serial form because so much of the population couldn’t afford to buy the whole book at once. I don’t know if that’s true or not.

  4. Chris Welch8 September, 2012

    While I completely agree with the point this article makes, I want to point out that the book length word count for novels is more than 30,000 words.

    According to both the SWA and HWA, a book has to have at least 40,000 words to be considered a novel; however, the average novel is closer to 80,000 words, although some longer novels, like those by Stephen King or Patrick Rothfuss, for example, clock in at 100,000 and higher.

  5. Syn8 September, 2012

    Like the idea or not, this is why Amazon is #1. They keep innovating and adding services on top of services. A published author may not like the pay for a Serial but what about an unpublished one? Plus their book doesn’t have to be complete AND they can get feedback on what people think before they write the next installment. Its like getting free public critiques so you can (hopefully) improve and deliver what people want to see and still get paid for it.

  6. Binko Barnes8 September, 2012

    Syn is right, Amazon keeps coming up with new and interesting ideas.

    However I also don’t find the idea of Serial subscriptions very compelling. I think of a novel as a complete and integrated work of imagination and like to imagine that the author completes it and then polishes it and revises it until it makes sense as a whole before releasing it.

    This may work for big name authors who have a fanbase willing to pay for bits and pieces of a book. But, in a world that is swimming in a vast multitude of run-of-the-mill ebooks, I don’t see how it will benefit very many authors or very many readers.

  7. Afrânio8 September, 2012

    Well… some authors are still doing it nowadays on blogs through the internet. They write the chapters and publish them for free when done. Once the book is finished, they self-publish the whole thing as a novel in as many services as they can.

    The difference with the serials is that they a writer can start getting paid since day one instead of waiting six plus months until the novel is done. They could even decide to write short stories that would complement their novels universes… like spinoffs. A fulltime writer could easily write one short serial story per month and see how good it would sell.

    The average auto-published novel is 80k words long and is sold by $3.99 or something like that. A serial of 30k could be published in 30 or 40 days and would be sold by 1.99. In my opinion it is a very interesting thing for new authors. Even veteran authors could test this new thing once in a while and see how this work for them.

    1. Afrânio8 September, 2012

      I live in Brazil and I tried to buy one but none of them are available yet. Are the serials already available or this is some kind of region block?

      1. Nate Hoffelder8 September, 2012

        Do you mean you cannot see any ebooks to buy at this link?

        I can see a bunch.

        1. Afrânio8 September, 2012

          I see them alright. But when I choose one, the next page shows the book, the summary and etc. Where the price usually is displayed I see this: Pricing information not available. And there’s no option to actually buy the serials. Is only show: Not currently available.

          1. Ingo Lembcke9 September, 2012

            Same for me, but I can offer a guess, as to why that is: your account at Amazon is tied to your country, probably both with your delivery-address and your payment method, in fact, Amazon offered a “do you have recently moved, manage your country”-Button. Oh, and a VPN with a US-IP does not help here either.
            I have so far not been able to buy eBooks at Amazon.Com. But neither did I want to, as all books I wanted so far were available in the German-Amazon-Store (in english).
            But I just checked, these Serials are currently not available in the German store.

            1. Afrânio9 September, 2012

              I can buy books at Amazon without any problems. Every time a book is not available because of region lock, it is shown very clearly on screen why the book is not available.

              On the serials case, it didn’t say that it’s a region block. It only says that the books are not available to buy.

  8. Jon Jermey8 September, 2012

    “If you do a ten-episode book, you’re selling 100,000 words for a measly $1.99.”

    Sure, and if you’re selling them to a million people, you’re making two million bucks. Your point?

    This is reminiscent of Stephen King pulling his eBook serialisation halfway through because he was ‘only’ getting $300,000 for it.

  9. fjtorres8 September, 2012

    Comic books these days are serials. So are a lot of TV shows. Soap operas. Reality TV. Politics. Fiction? Why not? And if the price is right.
    There are several fiction formats that lend themselves to the serial approach.
    I can see a novel in journal or diary format set in “real time” doing well as a serial. Or the old correspondence format…
    If nothing else it is an experiment worth trying.

  10. John10 September, 2012

    Ever heard of Emile Zola? He wrote such series in newspapers.


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