If you are an aspiring or established writer, and especially if you are a self-published author, you’ll want to know all about Kindle Vella.
It’s a new publishing platform on Amazon where you can publish serialized stories one episode at a time.
In April of this year, I received an email from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) as I have an account with them due to helping several clients self-publish their work in the past.
The email announced that they would be rolling out a new storytelling option: Kindle Vella, made specifically for “stories told one short episode at a time.”
Here are the most important things to know about Kindle Vella
Basic facts about Kindle Vella episodes:
- A single episode can be from 600 to 5,000 words.
- As the writer, you can add an author’s note to each episode if you wish.
- Kindle Vella readers can access the first three episodes of any story for free.
About Kindle Vella tokens and the “cost” of episodes:
- If readers wish to access more of your story, they will need to buy tokens to unlock episodes.
- Authors receive 50% of money spent on tokens to read your story.
- Right now, with the launch of Kindle Vella, they are offering 200 free tokens to readers.
(According to some comments on a Kindle Vella Author group on Facebook, it looks like authors do not get paid for episodes being read with free tokens.)
- Once readers have spent those tokens, they can buy 200 tokens for $1.99, 525 tokens for $4.99, etc.
- An episode of roughly 2,000 words will cost approximately 20 tokens.
Cover art and other self-publishing details:
- Each story requires a cover image before it can be published.
- Your cover image should be square; however, when published, it is in the shape of a circle.
- You don’t need to add text such as the story title for the author’s name to the cover image, as that is available on the side for the reader to see …
Like this, with the title of the story on the top right and the name of the author beneath:
Is Kindle Vella a Good Publishing Option for New Writers?
Right now, Kindle Vella is only open to authors publishing in the United States, so that would be a limitation for writers publishing from other parts of the world.
Assuming that you are writing from the U.S. …
A good thing about Kindle Vella is that it is new.
Whereas on Kindle your self-published book might be one among millions of KDP self-published books readers have to choose from, Kindle Vella (currently) only has thousands.
This could be a plus point if you get in on the ground level and begin publishing right away.
At the same time …
A possible drawback to Kindle Vella is that it is new.
In other words, it is an untested reading platform.
So far, less than a week into its soft launch the majority of readers are likely writers who have also published on Kindle Vella.
Fortunately, writers are also readers and you could get a good readership from other writers.
Also, if Amazon invests in a decent official launch (they can afford it, right?), it might just take off and new readers will flood into there looking for a good story.
The bottom line about publishing on Kindle Vella:
As should be the case with any decision you make in your writing life, whether or not you decide to publish with Kindle Vella depends on your overall writing goals.
Here are a few things to consider:
1. Is your writing style conducive to the episodic format?
Well, of course, you can think of the episodes as chapters and simply follow that approach.
But some stories seem more naturally geared towards serialized episodes than others.
If your story seems like it would fit into a TV series rather than a movie-style format, Kindle Vella episodes could be the perfect choice for you.
2. Do you have pre-written material you could self-publish after giving it a quick once-through?
In all transparency, I’ve known about the upcoming lunch of Kindle Vella since April.
While I was interested, I didn’t give it any serious thought until the end of May because I was busy homeschooling my boys.
Then there were graduation parties to plan and attend (and recover from afterward) so that by the time I began seriously thinking about what stories to publish on Kindle Vella, it was mid-June.
The Kindle Vella Facebook groups I was a member of showed people already having stories finished and episodes published and ready for the launch date.
I was sure I had missed the boat because while I am rewriting several works of fiction in preparation for publishing on Kindle Vella, they are nowhere near done yet.
Then, about a week ago I was going through an old writing folder and found another folder in that folder, titled “Series.” In the frame of mind of looking for series for Kindle Vella, I clicked on it and noticed just that:
A series of stories dubbed Angel of Ages that I began writing over a decade ago.
While I didn’t finish writing the series, I did complete at least one story. And as I scanned through it, I realized it was clean and pretty much ready to be published after another proofread.
Because it’s not the genre of stories I am focusing on today, I decided that I would publish it on Kindle Vella under a pen name, Willow Swift.
And I did, just in time for Kindle Vella’s launch on July 13th.
You can check out the story, Destiny’s Challenge, here. And it would mean a lot to me if you give it a fave or follow the story.
Not all the episodes are up yet but I’ll give you a little spoiler … I love a story with a happy ending.
3. Do you have unpublished material available?
Take note that you can’t put anything on Kindle Vella that has been previously published and is available elsewhere.
In other words, if you have a book you self-published and you think it would be great in serial format, you can’t publish it on Kindle Vella.
Basically, they want new content … not repurposed material.
All that to say, look through your writings and see if you have anything that would fit the Kindle Vella format.
You might find something that you forgot about and realized that it could just work.
A Final Word on Publishing with Kindle Vella … or Anywhere
Lastly, I do want to encourage you with this bit of advice …
Whether you are writing for Kindle Vella or any other platform … or even seeking traditional publishing.
Don’t just write what sells.
I know, it’s counterintuitive. Naturally, you want what you write to reach a wide audience and to be read by others and to resonate in people’s hearts …
But that’s not going to happen if you focus only on writing what sells.
You also need to write what’s on your heart.
- Write what inspires you.
- Write about what makes you laugh or weep or slam your fist against the table.
- Write what moves you because it will be what moves others.
Your story matters.
Best wishes on your writing journey.
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