What is Kindle Vella?
We all know what Kindle is now, an easy place for authors to publish their books and an easy place for readers to find a wide variety of ebooks in all subjects and price ranges. Kindle has been around since 2007 and it’s something that almost everyone is familiar with at least in passing. So what is Kindle Vella and how is it different from Kindle?
Kindle Vella, to put it simply, is the snack food of the reading world.
Now, I know that some of you are looking at me with a horrified expression right now, but let me explain. I am not saying that Kindle Vella is bad for you like junk food or that it’s mindless fluff that disappears as soon as you bite into it, like cotton candy or cheese puffs. (Besides, eating cheese puffs while reading always runs a high chance of leaving orange fingerprints on the paper, do not recommend). No, what I’m saying is that Kindle Vella is a quick opportunity to refuel your imagination and release your stress.
Let’s face it, the world that we live in today is a fast paced one. We’re always busy, busy, busy. It doesn’t matter what phase of life you are in, student, worker, parent, etc., it is nearly impossible anymore to find the time to sit down and actually read a book all the way through. Unless you are waiting in the doctor’s office or on hold to talk to someone about an issue, I guarantee that you don’t have a large enough chunk of time, lol.
This is where Kindle Vella comes in. It offers you bite size chapters that you can easily read while waiting in line at the grocery store, on a lunch break, walking in-between classes, or during a toddler’s veeeery short nap. It’s quick and it’s convenient. So lets take a quick look into it.
How it works:
All Kindle Vella stories offer the first three episodes for free. Once you’re three chapters in, you should have a pretty good feel for whether or not you enjoy the story and/or the author. The site is divided by genre such as fantasy or action and then further divided by tags so that it is easier to find stories that you enjoy.
After the first 3 episodes, the chapters can be unlocked by tokens. By joining Vella, you automatically get 200 free tokens right now. Not only that, but the tokens are fairly reasonably priced, with the reader being able to purchase 200 tokens for only $1.99. That’s less than a cup of coffee and will open multiple chapters. There are also other bundles that readers can purchase.
Now, the cost to unlock each chapter will vary, because the formula breaks it down to 1 token per 100 words. So a chapter that’s 2,056 words will cost 20 tokens to unlock, whereas one that is 1789 will only cost 17 tokens. Chapters are capped at 5k words, so you will never have to pay more than 50 tokens for a chapter and most are significantly less.
You can follow stories, like a single chapter or all the chapters in a story, or even fave a story, giving the story a crown. It also has the option for you to leave a review on the story.
For many writers, the process of creating a book is a long one. First you have to write out the first draft, revise, edit, revise again. Curl up with your cat while wailing that your story will never be again. Binge snacks and a tv series while the story simmers in the back of your mind. Reluctantly drag yourself back to the computer and find that the story is much better than how you thought it was, you’ve got this! Finish editing and then either format and self publish or start the hunt for a publisher.
Either way, it’s a looooooot of work.
Sometimes you just want to share your awesome character and story with others on the off chance that they find it as cool as you do. Nothing makes my day better than when someone tells me that my story made them smile or made them forget about their worries for a while. Best feeling in the world!
This is where Kindle Vella comes in.
Vella gives you the opportunity to publish your story in chapters as it develops. The recommended length for a chapter is 2,500-3,000 words, but it can easily be longer or shorter. Also, just like how it is hard to sit down and read an entire book, it’s also hard to sit down and write for long, uninterrupted periods of time (uninterrupted is the key word there). However, say that you plan to update your story once a week, say Friday evenings so that people can have something new to read on the weekend. If you write 500 words a day, Monday thru Friday, then you’ll have a 2,500 word chapter by Friday night. 500 words a day sounds much easier, right?
So you have your story idea, your first chapter(s) all polished and ready to go, and are ready to get started. This must be the hard part. Actually, no, no it’s not. You can have it all set up in 5 minutes. Upload a picture, create a small blurb, indicate what genre your story is and add a couple of tags to make it easier to find. Then all you have to do is either upload your document or copy and paste the chapter into the space that they provide. It’s that simple. After that, when you click submit, it goes to review and they tell you that it can take up to 72 hours to go live. However, I have never had it take more than a few hours, twelve at the absolute outside.
Not only that, but at the end of each chapter, there is the option for you to add an Author’s Note, an additional opportunity to interact with your readers. In this spot, you can share something extra about your characters and story, maybe when you plan to release your next chapter. You could even do a tiny sneak peek if that’s your style.
And that’s it. Your story is now live, congrats!
Now, Kindle Vella has only been up for a few months now, so just to be fair, I’m also going to cover some of the cons that I’ve discovered about Kindle Vella during my time using it.
It seems like the same several stories get regularly featured, so if you want something else, you’re going to have to dig through the stories a little bit more. Searching tags do help, but the categories seem to be more broadly defined at this point it time. It could be where it is such a new platform, there simply aren’t as many writers on it yet. However, it’s my belief that there are dozens of gems on Vella just waiting to be discovered.
Kindle Vella does not seem to have been widely promoted yet, the opening having been done just within the U.S. Because of this, all of the work of promoting your story will fall squarely onto your shoulders. If you have a social media presence for your writing set up, you’ll fare better. If you don’t, I recommend that you do right away, especially Instagram. There are several groups out there to help support Vella authors, but you will have to search them out for yourselves.
Another issue that I’m having is that I cannot seem to figure out how the ranking system for stories work. Some of the top stories have lots of likes while others only have a few. The algorithm is different and many authors are struggling to understand how it works so that they can best promote their work.
In order to fix the issue mentioned above, I currently have a suggestion in to create a recently updated section for readers. As I’m sure many of you know, I write fanfiction. On the site I use, Archive of Our Own, they have a section where every time a story is updated, it’s moved to the top of the list and then they are slowly moved down as other stories update.. It helps stories that update regularly but might otherwise be buried get found. I’ve found some of my very favorite stories this way. I really hope that they seriously consider this and if you want to send them an email or comment on the community post on amazon that I have up, that would be great.
So is Kindle Vella the groundbreaking new meeting ground for readers and writers? I don’t know.
It definitely has the potential to become something great if it’s managed right.
Hope this brief overview helped.
Have a marvelous weekend!