If you hang out on Amazon or follow enough authors, you might have run across a new(ish) reading experience from Amazon that was released in 2021 called Kindle Vella.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. 2021 was a long time ago already, but the platform is growing and slowly taking off. I didn’t want to miss out, so last September, I thought I’d dive in and figure out if Kindle Vella was going to take over the reading world, or if it was going to fizzle out.
Spoiler: I’m not sure yet.
Okay. Let’s start with the basics.
What the heck is Kindle Vella?
Well, think of it like this: it’s like reading on Kindle, but with a twist. Each chapter (named “episodes”) on Kindle Vella are released individually, rather than the traditional reading experience where you can devour an entire novel in one sitting. Sometimes, a story is “Complete” and you can binge the entire thing, other times, the story is ongoing and the author is still releasing episodes for who knows how long (Like a soap opera.) These type of books are called “Serials” or “Serial Fiction”.
Now, you may also be wondering, “what the heck are serials?” Well, picture this: it’s like the good-ol’-days before entire seasons of TV shows were dropped on Netflix. You know, when you had to wait an entire week for a new episode of your favorite show. For some readers who love reading fast, this may sound annoying (those readers should focus on the Vellas that are marked as “Complete”) but for others, it’s a dream come true. They get to enjoy their favorite characters and stories week after week, avoiding that empty feeling when they finish a book and there’s nothing else to read in that world.
As a reader, what I like about Kindle Vella is that all the stories I start flow over to my Kindle App on my phone and to my Kindle Paperwhite. I can keep up without needing to use my computer. I especially enjoy having these on my phone, because the bite size story is perfect for when you’re waiting and need a little entertainment. I just open my Kindle App and see what stories have new episodes for me to read. Plus, authors release stories on Vella before they do on regular Kindle, so it’s like a sneak-peek, extra early copy of a new story.
But, let’s not forget about the authors. As an author, Kindle Vella is a game changer for someone like me. I’m motivated by reader feedback, and posting a single episode motivates me to get more up on the platform. Publishing is like a little pat on the back for my imagination and Kindle Vella lets me get that gratification sooner. Plus, Amazon’s paying authors decent for using their platform. This helps fund editors, covers, and other publishing expenses.
What does Kindle Vella looks like?
Check out my newest story Nemesis: A Girl’s Guide to Supervillainy to see the format of a story. (Or, find a list of all stories on Vella HERE.) Once you click one of the links and are on Amazon’s page, make sure you click the little key button in the right-hand corner to (hopefully) claim some free tokens. (Note: this only works for readers in the USA. Outside the USA? Read some of my downsides to Vella below.)
How much does Kindle Vella Cost?
For Kindle Vella, you can grab the first 3 chapters of any book for free, similar to downloading a preview on Kindle. But, after that, you’ll need to use “tokens” to purchase additional chapters of a story. And don’t worry, if you’re new to Kindle Vella, you can grab some tokens for free to try it out (see above directions.) Personally, I love this free preview of each book. I should use this feature more on regular Kindle ebooks, but I don’t. With Vella, this feature is automatic.
As of right now, each token costs a little less than a penny and will unlock 100 words of a story. So, for a 50,000 word novel, it’ll cost you under $5 to read the entire thing. Some serials are shorter, and many are longer. But, many longer serials would end up being published in multiple books when (if) they are ever published on traditional Kindle.
What are the downsides to Kindle Vella?
Oh boy. When this platform was released, I hesitated in trying it for over a year because I’m old, set-in-my-ways, and only saw the downsides. Thoughts like these flowed through my head:
- “This won’t last.”
- “Why would readers want a partial book?” or “What if I get hooked on a story and the author stops writing it?”
- “It’s too confusing to readers.” or “Great, just what I need. Another barrier to getting one of my books into a reader’s hand.”
Yeah, I don’t have complete answers to any of these issues.
Will the platform last? Maybe? Right now, it’s available to US Readers only and is still in the Beta Test phase. Amazon says they plan on rolling it out to other countries soon. Because of this, I’m working on adding my stories to other platforms for readers outside of the USA to enjoy.
What if an author never finishes a book? Well, I figure that if I love and trust an author, that shouldn’t be a problem. Also, loving the story up until whatever point the author stopped writing, should have given me a lot of entertainment already. Or, I can just choose completed stories.
And about the platform being confusing? Well, I think once readers start using it, they’ll think it’s actually pretty slick.
This was long winded, but interesting enough for those readers who love and are loyal to reading on Amazon. Kindle Vella is out there, it’s growing, and is something to be aware of.
Vella creates a new partnership between writers and readers. This platform offers a way for writers to reach readers and for readers to discover new stories and provide feedback directly to the author.
It allows writers to create serialized fiction, which is a type of story that is released in small, episodic chunks over time. This allows readers to follow along as the story unfolds and also allows writers to engage with their readers through comments and feedback.
Plus, my favorite part, Kindle Vella offers a sense of community and foster a more immersive and interactive experience for both the reader and the author.
So, why not give it a try? And let me know what you think in the comments below!
Thanks for this in-depth look into Kindle Vella. I’ve been looking into publishing there for a while. This post is motivating me to pull the trigger. 😊
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