Publishing is an ever-changing industry, which means it's important to keep track of trends and be aware of what is going on regarding all the various publishing platforms. Kindle Vella is something new from Amazon, a way of sharing stories in a serialized format. This style of digital storytelling has been popular in Asia for a long time. We're a little late to the game, although you may be aware of it if you've ever used sites like Radish and Wattpad. But what is Vella exactly, and is it right for you?
Here are the basics:
Vella is part of Kindle Direct Press, so you need a KDP account to publish there.
Episodes are between 600 and 5,000 words long, which can mean it's more like writing scenes than chapters.
It's only available to writers in the U.S. at the moment.
Readers get the first three episodes for free, and use tokens to unlock additional episodes.
You can publish or update episodes at any time.
This can be a lot of fun for both writers and readers. As a writer, you can use Vella to try something new, reach a different group of readers, and have an additional income stream. You can interact with your readers using the author notes and surveys at the end of each episodes. Readers can interact with you by following a story, mark the stories they liked most as a "fave," and giving a thumb's up to episodes they enjoyed. They can also leave reviews, but it's a little trickier to find the review area then it is on a standard KDP book.
There are seven steps to publishing your story on Vella:
Create a new Kindle Vella story through your KDP account.
Enter the title, author name, and description.
Upload an image, but don't pay for a cover. Purchase an image from Deposit Photos or Shutterstock, and use that. Do not add words to the image. Clear and simple is best.
Select your categories (romance, sci-fi, etc.).
Select your tags (these are like keywords).
Add your episodes (I copy and paste from word, but you can upload or type it directly on Vella).
Publish your episode.
Important stuff to know ahead of time:
You cannot republish something that has already been published.
You can't publish content that is public domain or freely available on the web
You cannot republish a translation of a story already published in a different language.
You can republish your Vella story as a book after it has been up on Vella for 30 days.
Good news, right? That means you aren't stuck in a serialized format forever if you don't like it, and it's also a great way to build up your list of books.
The most complicated part about Vella is probably the payment system. It'll take your readers a while to fully grasp the token/episode system, but it's hard for authors, too. It's important to know authors receive 50% of the royalties from the token sales, but there is an actual formula involved, and the more tokens a reader buys upfront, the more value they get for their money.
This is the formula: (Number of Tokens to unlock episode) * (Tokens bundle price/# Tokens in bundle – taxes and fees) * (50% rev share) = Earnings per episode.
It's a little hard to follow, but you can get more detailed info from the Vella website. An important thing to understand: Right now, Amazon is trying to build up their pool of authors and the number of stories available, so they are currently giving bonuses (wahoo!). It's not clear how long they'll continue doing this, but it's definitely worth your time if you have a story that might work.
So, if you like serialized stories, or you already have a story that might lend itself to this format, give it a try. It's new, it's free, and it's fun. It's also a great way to experiment and write something in a different style.
Follow the rules and give it a try. Who knows? This could be the next big thing, and this might be a style, and a format, that works for you.