Nearly two years ago now, Kara Klotz launched Channillo, a subscription-based digital publishing platform for authors. The concept is fairly simple: authors apply to publish their content in serial format on the site, and readers pay a monthly fee that allows them to follow and read several stories at a time. The authors take home a collective 80% of the site’s revenue, based on the number of subscribers to their work, and they have a new channel to engage with readers and build their platform.
When I stumbled across the site (thank you, Twitter), I was intrigued and, after poking around a bit, decided I had to know more. So I reached out to Kara and she was kind enough to take time to answer my questions. Here’s what I learned:
Could you tell me about your literary background, and the road that led you to Channillo?
I don’t have a professional literary background, but literature has always been one of my greatest passions. Channillo evolved from my desire to create a better platform for authors interested in sharing their work online in a serialized format. Blogging is great option for some, but with the exception of a few topics, it can be hard for writers to monetize, and I strongly believe that writers deserve to get paid for all the hard work that goes into creating stories that readers value.
And where did the name “Channillo” come from?
Channillo is a 100% made up word. I made it up. I think it’s fun to say. Also, I’ve started calling people who use the site, ‘Channilloers.’
The site launched nearly a year ago, now. What has surprised you in that year?
We initially weren’t sure any authors would be interested in our Channillo For Charity idea. It was a pleasant surprise to see a number of writers enthusiastic about sharing their work for a good cause.
In its early stages, an unproven content platform can be a difficult sell. What strategies have you used to attract dues-paying readers?
First, always making sure that the there are lots of great series on the site for readers to choose from. Second, having a generous pricing model. Most readers feel that being able to choose any 10 series for only $4.99/month (or 25 series for $9.99/month) is a great deal. Readers also love the flexibility of being able to unsubscribe from a series and subscribe to a new one at any time. Compare this to buying an eBook, where if part way through you decide you don’t really like it, you can’t just trade it for another one. Third, we’ve added a social component to the site that many readers find very appealing. It’s fun to be able to connect with and discuss a series with fellow readers (and often the author) as each new chapter or installment is released.
Channillo is a platform for writers in a wide variety of genres. When you’re reviewing applications, what is your criteria for determining whether a series is a good fit?
We ask ourselves a lot of different questions when reviewing an application. Is it a great idea that would work well as a series? What is the author’s experience and promotional strategy? Is it similar to any series currently on the site, and if so, how successful have those been? Do we need more series in the category? Has the writer written for Channillo in the past? It will likely become harder to get a series accepted as the site matures. We still want to add quite a few series to the site, but we do have a limit in mind for the maximum number of ‘Ongoing’ series we want to have running on the site at one time.
Currently, Channillo is a platform for finished work. Have you ever considered using it as a platform to nurture authors by connecting them with editors or reviewers?
How do you envision the site evolving? What do hope Channillo will look like 5 years from now?
We hope to continue to add new features that make readers love Channillo even more. Customer feedback is very important to us and helps us make improvements. We hope to continue to attract talented new writers and grow the number of readers significantly.
Finally, because I’m always curious about people’s views on the subject, do you see your platform as a complement to, or a replacement for traditional publishing?
Great question! Traditional publishing isn’t for everyone, but certainly has its merits, and for those authors that do choose to go the traditional publishing route, I see Channillo as being a great complement. Channillo isn’t just a way to publish, it’s also an excellent platform for writers to connect with potential readers and promote other books that they have written. In fact, any writer can create a Channillo profile for this purpose, even if they don’t currently have a series running on Channillo. In addition, we often allow writers to serialize a book that is being published in another format elsewhere as long as it’s not available for free. Serialization can be great way to garner new attention for a book that has been published in the past, or to create buzz (and gain fans) for a book that will be released in the future. We want to work with (and not against) other publishers to help talented authors meet their goals.
So, author friends, what do you think? Is Channillo the kind of platform you’d be interested in using to sell and promote your work?