Fiction Apps Can Increase Your Income
Most self-published authors sell their book on one or more of the traditional online eBook stores like Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc. Lately, however, a new option has emerged that is worth looking into, at least for those not tied to a long term exclusivity agreement. You may not have heard of Fiction Apps, or if you have, you may have brushed them off believing that they only exist to give books away for free and can’t be used to earn real money from your novels. Times have changed, though, with new apps emerging and gaining popularity among both readers and silicon valley. NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Krista Lakes uses them, and she’s here to let us know why it’s time for authors to start taking these apps seriously, and what some of the options are. I think I’ll be experimenting with one of them in the near future myself!
For many authors, the question of whether or not to go wide rests on only two factors:
- How many readers will I lose from Amazon by taking my books out of Kindle Unlimited
- How many readers will I gain from the other big retailers by listing them there?
Usually, when considering other retailers, only a few names come to mind. Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo are the heaviest hitters in eBooks. Google is usually a single-percentage add-on. All the places that Smashwords and Draft2Digital distribute to are usually worth checking the box to get that distribution.
But there’s a new set of platforms that are making some authors a lot of money, and they’re called fiction apps.
You may have gotten an ad for one of these before. Usually, it has a picture of a beautiful pregnant woman and then the first chapter of a book. It’s usually something that hooks you and makes you click the “read more.” Or maybe it’s one of the graphical ones. A handsome man stands next to a heavily pregnant woman and asks her how it’s going. Two options pop up: “Make small talk” or “Tell him the baby is his.”
Sound familiar? I know many of my most popular romance books use the secret baby trope. And while my books cost money to read, these apps seem to be free! But somebody’s got to be writing for them, right?
Do they get paid? Can I get paid? Is it worth it?
What are fiction apps?
The term “fiction app” refers to any of the various apps popping up in the Apple or Google app stores which deliver content on a more “pay-per-chapter” basis, rather than selling the whole eBook at once. Some of these apps, like Radish or Goodnovel, simply offer new chapters in a linear way. Others, like Episodes or Sana Stories, feature branching storylines. All these apps try to give enough free content away to entice the customer into buying more of the paid content.
Which fiction apps are worth writing for?
I am going to focus on Radish Fiction here, because it is the only app that I have really experimented with publishing on, but I will list some more apps and their possible issues below.
By far the most lucrative for romance authors, Radish Fiction recently got a $60m funding round from some venture capitalists. How did they convince Silicon Valley that they were worth so much? Because they’re making money – over a million dollars a month. The first three chapters of every story is free (much like Amazon’s “Look Inside”) and after that, the author can select how much more they want to be free, whether the next chapter will be locked for a number of hours, and whether any of the final chapters will only be available to purchase with coins. Their contract is also the best in the business. With a slick-looking app, regular promotions for authors, and a great support team, they’re poised to be the leader in this industry.
Genres: Romance, though they do have a horror section as well.
Format: Text only
Royalties: They pay 12.6 cents per chapter read if the chapter is bought with coins. While not a percentage, it works out to roughly 35%. They pay quarterly, about ten days after the end of the quarter.
Time to upload: Since every chapter must be copy and pasted separately, a thirty chapter book takes me roughly thirty minutes to upload.
Things to know: Radish does not allow any text on covers, so you’ll have to use stock photos or just take the title off your existing cover if you can do that.
Contractual issues: Stories that are free elsewhere can not be charged for on Radish. Stories must remain on the app until six months after the last chapter is released.
How to apply: Go to http://radishfiction.com/writer.html. Note that they are selective about who they pick to write on their app, but my suggestion is to share your sales figures and hope for the best!
Facebook groups dedicated to Radish books:
Format: Text only
Royalties: Apparently, if you go through Streetlib, you get a much better deal. I don’t know what the difference is, though. They pay quarterly.
Time to upload: If submitted through Streetlib, the book is chopped up for you, meaning the only time spent is uploading your cover, blurb, and ebook file. However, if the book never seems to show up on the Dreame app, you have to email Streetlib to hurry the process along.
Contractual issues: Even with the better contract through Streetlib, it is difficult to get books taken down from the app.
How to apply: Simply submit the book through Streetlib and select Dreame as a retailer.
Format: Text only
Royalties: Based on chapters read. Paid quarterly
Time to upload: Like Radish, you have to copy/paste every chapter, so expect to take some time on this for every book.
Contractual issues: First of all, you have to upload at least 15000 words of a book to their website without a contract. I know that that’s stressful, but that’s how they’ve decided to do things. Then, you can ask them for a contract. The first contract they send is very bad for the author. However, they are willing to negotiate on basically every term. Do not give up any rights you are not comfortable giving up, like film, TV, or audiobook rights. Even after negotiating with them, they will insist on a term of five years. You’re not exclusive to them during that time, but just know that you won’t be able to return that book to Kindle Unlimited for that long. There’s some red flags there, so proceed at your own risk!
How to apply: Start here https://www.goodnovel.com/writer_benefit
Format: Interactive text
Royalties: 25% of subscription revenue
Time to upload: This one will take you a while. Like a choose-your-own-adventure book, you have to write both sides of every choice the reader is able to make. Of course, you can make one branch end, or have both branches meet up at a common point, but it can be a lot of work.
Contractual issues: None so far, but they’re a new app, so I hope that everything goes well with them.
How to apply: Start here https://www.sanastories.com/sana-writing-tool
One thing to remember is that when considering writing for any fiction app, it is very important for you to look over their contract and make sure that there is a way for you to exit and that you’re not giving up any rights that they don’t need. Some of these apps are hosted in foreign countries, and enforcing your legal rights might be more trouble there. Do your diligence!
For me, it’s a no-brainer to split my time between writing and uploading new books to these fiction apps. Since I left Kindle Unlimited, my Amazon income has been reduced, and even re-submitting books to KU hasn’t changed that. These fiction apps are definitely outperforming Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo for me. I think that they might represent the future of reading, and I’m excited to be on the ground floor! And if you want to see reviews on more of these fiction apps in the future, or if you’ve tried them and want to share your experience with them, let us know in the comments below!