|By John Peragine|
There has been quite the buzz about Kindle’s new offering- Kindle Vella. It has not launched quite yet. Insiders tell me it will be in June 2021. But, authors can start creating stories right now. So what is Vella, and why all the hubbub?
Vella allows you to create stories as a serial- that is, breaking them into episodes. While this is not a new concept Amazon Kindle has gamified it.
One of the advantages of coming out with a series is that you can publish it quickly. The cover is no exception. You can use a simple picture that they display in a round porthole style. Nothing fancy, and you don’t need a designer to create it. You just upload, and you are done. The only drawback is that you only have one graphic for the whole series, and you cannot add any pictures to your story.
You have three choices for content. You can type the story directly into the box. You are limited to one font, but you have bold, italic, and underline options. The stories are read on Kindle devices, and so you could change the font as the reader. You can also cut and paste into the box as well. The third way is you can upload a .doc or .docx file. When I did this, I had to fix a couple of margins once it was uploaded. You can edit directly in the box.
You create a title for the series, and then each episode has its own episode name. You also make a short description of your series. In addition, you are allowed seven story tags- these are searchable words and are very important for people to search and find your story. In addition, you can pick two categories (genres) for your story.
What I have found interesting is that each episode has its own ASIN number. So I anticipate that each episode will be searchable on Amazon- both as a series and as an individual episode. However, these stories do not have an ISBN, which makes sense as they are only digital and only available on Kindle.
Each episode is 600-5,000 words. There doesn’t seem to be a maximum of episodes. They allow you to post content that is “not freely available elsewhere.” This means you can use already published work, but you can’t use work published elsewhere for free. Other than that, there are not too many rules concerning content. Every episode you create has to be approved by them, but it is not clear what they are looking for. I had one episode they would not publish without explanation. I changed the title of the episode, and it went through fine the next time.
This is where it gets a little tricky, so bear with me. The first three episodes of your story are free. You make nothing on them because the reader pays nothing. This is to test out whether they like your story enough to continue.
Here is the breakdown. A reader buys tokens, and a token is worth 100 words. So, it would take 6 tokens to unlock a 600-word episode. As a writer, you make 50% of what the reader paid for the tokens. They have different packages of tokens. For instance, it costs $1.99 for 200 tokens. Another package costs 525 tokens for $4.99 (therefore a little less per token).
If your episode is 600 words and it costs 6 tokens, then you’d make .03. My thought is to publish smaller episodes for the first three episodes and maximize the size of the episodes after that. The other thing is to work toward having many readers to maximize your return.
One of the exciting aspects of Vella is the ability to add the author’s notes at the end of the episode. I can explain the characters, my thoughts, and the process for writing that particular episode. It allows me to speak directly to the reader.
I am glad there is no star system or written feedback. (At least that is my understanding. If it is on Amazon’s catalog, I am not sure whether they will be able to leave a rating). The new system is a thumbs up for the episodes you enjoy. At the end of the week, a reader is given a “fave” crown that they can assign to their favorite serial. The stories with the most crowns for the week are featured as the top stories. This is a step away from the current rating.
I have my first serial ready to launch and plan on writing more before Vella launches. In part 3 of this series, I will talk about my favorite techniques for writing episodes and how to engage and keep readers coming back for more.
What are your thoughts about Vella? Is it something you are willing to try?
John Peragine has published 14 books and ghostwritten more than 100 others. He is a contributor for HuffPost, Reuters, and The Today Show. He covered the John Edwards trial exclusively for Bloomberg News and The New York Times. He has written for Wine Enthusiast, Grapevine Magazine, Realtor.com, WineMaker magazine, and Writer's Digest.
John began writing professionally in 2007, after working 13 years in social work and as the piccolo player for the Western Piedmont Symphony for over 25 years. Peragine is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. You can learn more about his books at JohnPeragineBooks.com.
His newest book, Max and the Spice Thieves, was released on April 20, 2021. Click here for a free first chapter.
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According to Amazon, regarding Vella you cannot: <> My understanding of this is that you cannot use previously published work. Amazon is not requiring exclusivity, however--a serial published on Vella can also be published on Radish, for example.
I'm not sure about that.. I intend to use it for new work to direct them to my other already published work.
this was the answer KDP gave when I asked about exclusivity:
There’s no exclusivity requirement to publish through Vella. You need to follow our guidelines, an episode can be up on as many other serial sites as you want, but it must be PAID on those sites, not free.
Also can’t be public domain and cannot be included in a full-length (“long-form”) book until after you’ve taken down the episodes from Vella.
That was my understanding as well.
This sounds a lot like Chapters, a reading app that requires tokens. I have sold several of my romance novel gaming rights to them recently. Readers seem to enjoy the format.
I don't think that it is a new concept but because its on the Kindle platform it has the potentional of being big.
This is great, John. Thank you. I was wondering about the nuts and bolts and you've laid out the the key points in the guidelines. I also found some good advice about what makes for a good serialized story on the Writer Unboxed blog site. The question: can I take my existing novel and release it chapter by chapter? The blogger answers: No, for the same reason you can't divide your car into a pair of motorcycles. I don't know if this is universally true. There might be exceptions. Perhaps it's a matter of crafting chapters into episodes?
My feeling is yes- you could break it up. But I believe most of us have new material we'd like to try out. Once readers notice you, they are more likely to buy your other work.
I have a large novel that I am considering rewriting it from there point of view of the main character only. A second set can be written from the point of view of her family. Since they would have different title it wouldn't be the same old work exactly.
This is sooooo helpful! I wonder what other avenues are available for serial publishing? Paid subscriptions on one's own blog site?
I think that would only work if you had a huge following to begin with...
Good article.Last week I attended a training sessions hosted by Adam Houge. In it he talked about Kindle Vella. One point he made clear is that you CANNOT use anything from a published work if it is on Amazon. I do think this is an interesting option to explore. (While my website isle it still not complete so if you go there browsing is all you can do.
Yes and no.. here are their rules-
Kindle Vella is a serial reading experience. To protect readers from purchasing Kindle Vella content they have already read in a different format, you cannot:
Incorporate your Kindle Vella content into other long-form content (e.g., a book) in any language. If you wish to incorporate an episode or story into other content, you must unpublish all episodes of that story from Kindle Vella.
Publish in Kindle Vella content that is in the public domain or freely available on the web.
Break down your previously published book or long-form content into Episodes and republish in Kindle Vella, even if that book or long-form content is no longer available or is written in another language. If your Episode or Story is derived from another work you have authored (e.g., it continues the story from a book), you may include up to 5,000 words of content from the other work in the first Episode to bridge the story, provided you control the rights to do so.
so a 100,000 word novel would cost ten bucks to read? I don't think that's realistic.