Recently, Amazon launched its newest writing platform, called Kindle Vella, which is currently limited to only the US market. The name itself is a play on the term novella, which is classified as a work of fiction between 17,500 – 40,000 words. Novellas are longer than a short story but not quite long enough to be considered a novel.
Kindle Vella is a serialized fiction platform. The premise is to post a new episode of a longer story at regular intervals, and those intervals are being left entirely up to the writer. They can even choose to post entirely at random. The episodes should leave readers with enough suspense that they’ll look forward with anticipation to the next episode.
For readers of novels who are used to having a complete story at the time of purchase, this style of storytelling may take some getting used to. However, many readers of fanfiction are intimately familiar with this. Most fanfiction stories are told in a serialized fashion. The concept isn’t new, as many novels in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s were published this way.
Jules Verne published most of his novels as serials in Hetzel’s Magasin d’éducation et de récréation, a French literary magazine. One of my favorite novels, A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, was serialized in All-Story Magazine. Once a serialized story was complete, it was common to compile them into either a single novel or a series of novels.
Publishing on Kindle Vella
The Kindle Vella platform makes publishing stories fairly straightforward. It starts with setting up a new story. This includes giving it a title, uploading some cover art, and writing a summary or blurb for the story.
Once the story has been set up, you can add episodes, and each episode must be set up separately. For each episode, they ask you to provide an episode title, provide the text of the episode, and you have the option to include author’s notes at the end of the episode.
You can either write the text directly into the interface provided, or you can upload the episode from your computer. The text editor has limited formatting, with only bold, italics, or underline available, and they limit each episode to a minimum of 500 words and a maximum of 5,000 words.
You can then schedule the date you wish the episode to publish live, or publish live immediately. One caveat to keep in mind is that they review each episode before publication, and the review time takes around two to three days. Immediate is not quite so immediate.
Writers will earn based on how long each episode is, and the royalty earned is 50% of how much the readers have spent on the tokens they are using to unlock the episodes.
Reading on Kindle Vella
For readers, they can read the first three episodes of any story for free. After that, they have to unlock episodes using tokens. The amount of tokens required depends on the length of each episode. It costs about one token for every 100 words, so for an episode with 2,500 words it would cost twenty-five tokens. The cost of tokens is approximately 1 US cent per token or less, depending on the bundle you choose to purchase.
After you have read an episode, you can provide feedback by giving the story a thumbs-up. You can also give favorite stories a crown, something they give you in limited supply after purchasing tokens. You’re also able to rate and review the stories in the same way you can rate and review novels on Amazon.
My Kindle Vella Experience
When I learned of Kindle Vella back in April 2020, I was immediately excited. While I have published two novels, I still love the serialized format of writing fanfiction. Unfortunately, cecause of the nature of fanfiction, there is no legal way to earn money from the effort, so each of those stories is entirely a labor of love.
I began working on my first Kindle Vella story, Transcendent, almost immediately, and the time the platform launched, I had six episodes ready to go. The overall interface of the platform from the writer’s end is simple but usable. I would like to see more formatting options, although I can understand why they’ve kept it limited. The most frustrating thing is the lack of formatting in the author’s notes, and the limited space allowed.
Since the platform is still in beta, there have not been any big announcements made by Amazon. Any marketing for the stories already on the platform has had to come entirely from the writers. This has made readership very low at the onset, but I hope that will change.
I know a lot of writers who have been trying out the platform are very frustrated and many are already choosing to pull their stories off Kindle Vella and repurpose them as novels that they’ll publish through regular Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform instead.
Since I specifically wrote my story for a platform like Kindle Vella, I don’t see any point in pulling it. I’m going to continue posting episodes weekly until the entire story is published. Then I will sit back and see what happens as the platform evolves. If Kindle Vella fails, there are plenty of other serialized writing platforms on the internet I can move my story to.
In the meantime, if you enjoy reading gay erotic romance stories and would like to read one that features a transgender character, please give Transcendent a read. If you enjoy the episodes, please remember to give them a thumbs-up so I know.