If you're an avid reader or a writer, you may have heard of Kindle Vella, Amazon's (relatively) new reading platform for serialized fiction. Kindle Vella first opened to authors around April 2021 to begin preloading content, and officially launched to readers in July 2021. (I was one of the authors who had content preloaded when it launched, and have been with the platform ever since.)
Although Kindle Vella has been around nearly two years, by the time of this post, it's still relatively unknown to many readers and authors. I've been doing some YouTube videos to better explain the platform and help get the word out, but I thought I should put the info out there in blog form as well, for those of you who prefer reading to watching a video.
This blog post will just be the basic overview of how Kindle Vella works, what readers can expect, and how writers can use this platform to showcase their work. I'll be doing more in-depth posts into various aspects of the platform in the future. (If there's a specific question you have that you'd like me to cover in one of those future posts, comment on this post and let me know!)
So, let's get started with the overview!
The Basics of Kindle Vella
Kindle Vella is a serial platform.
This means it features serialized stories, or in other words, stories broken up into smaller parts, called episodes, and released over time.
This style of storytelling has been around for centuries and was popularized in the 19th century with the rise of newspapers and magazines. Kindle Vella brings this style of storytelling to the digital age. (It's not the only platform to do so... Wattpad, Radish, and others have been doing this for some time. But it's the first serial platform to have the backing of mega-publishing giant Amazon behind it.)
Readers use tokens to read episodes.
To read stories on Kindle Vella, readers will need to purchase "tokens" using their Amazon account. These tokens are then used to unlock individual episodes of a story. (Each episode is between 600-5,000 words in length, making it perfect for reading on-the-go or during short breaks.)
Once a reader has purchased tokens, they can browse through the library of stories on Kindle Vella. They can search by genre, popularity, or keywords. Once they find a story that interests them, they can read a brief description of the story, and even sample the story by reading the first three episodes free.
If the reader decides they want to continue reading the story, they can use their tokens to unlock additional episodes.
Kindle Vella is meant to be interactive.
Readers can also leave comments on each episode (the comment feature is currently in beta but will soon be available on every story), can thumbs-up episodes, leave reviews, answer polls at the end of episodes (if the author includes polls), and even choose a weekly "Fave" story based on what they're enjoying most that week.
Authors can also leave "author notes" at the end of episodes to share behind-the-scenes info, tease up the next episode, or just communicate directly with their readers.
One of the primary goals for the Vella platform, according to Amazon, was to create a community feel and a sense of excitement/anticipation around the release of each new episode... similar to waiting for the next episode of your favorite television show to release. They encourage authors to invite readers to follow their author pages on social media, etc., to keep the excitement going between episode releases and to create "buzz" over the stories. All of the interactive features built in to Vella are also working toward this purpose... plus, it's fun!
Vella is a legit way of making side income (sometimes significant income) as an author.
For writers, Kindle Vella provides a new platform to showcase their work and build a following. The stories must be previously unpublished and exclusive to Kindle Vella (though they do allow stories to be on other serial sites as long as they are behind a paywall, and they do allow authors to later publish the stories in "longform" as ebooks or print versions after 30 days, so... the exclusivity is really not all that "exclusive," you just have to make sure you're abiding by the guidelines). It's really a good setup for authors, and for me, has allowed the best of both worlds since I could post a story while I was actively writing it, and still publish later in other formats. (I'm currently working on packaging up one of my Vella serials for release as a trilogy in ebook/paperback!)
Writers are paid a percentage of the revenue earned from reader's tokens used to unlock their episodes, and stories that are actively posting and receiving traffic can also qualify for a share of the bonus pool... which is where the real income comes from. I regularly make a few hundred a month on my one story, thanks to this bonus pool, and I have friends who are ranking higher and getting more traffic than I am, and they are making thousands or tens of thousands on their stories. A month.
It takes work to build, but the potential for real, significant income is there.
Kindle Vella is currently only available in the United States.
This applies to writing and reading on Vella. However, I do believe Amazon plans to expand to other countries. We just don't have a timeframe for that, yet.
Overall, Kindle Vella is an exciting new platform that offers a unique way for readers to enjoy serialized fiction and for writers to reach a new audience. It's also a great opportunity for writers to connect with their readers, build a following, and make a legitimate stream of income. While there are limitations to consider, Kindle Vella is definitely worth checking out for both readers and writers alike.