• Shae Bryant

My Thoughts on Kindle Vella

Kindle Vella is a new platform by Amazon. It takes a nod from platforms like Wattpad, allowing authors to release their work as episodes, and get paid for it. Sort of. In my opinion, Vella has some buzz because Amazon generated the buzz, but it won't last and Kindle Vella won't work for most authors.

What is Kindle Vella?

It is a serialized reading platform that can be accessed in the Kindle app or website. Readers get the first three episodes for free, then they exchanged purchased tokens for the rest of the episodes.

How Does it Work for Authors?

Submit your story in episodes (as many as you'd like) and put it out there for your readers. Stories and episodes you put on Vella are now stuck behind a paywall. You are allowed to put them on places like Patreon, but not on Wattpad or anywhere free. To make a book from your stories, you must wait 30 days after releasing the final episode, and have at least 10 episodes available. You make a portion of what readers spend to unlock episodes. As of writing this post, it is 50%.

So I Get Paid More than I would with KDP?

Not exactly. It's a tricky thing. You see, there are two major catches. First, Amazon can change the pricing at anytime. Meaning, they can lower it. They can also lower your cut at any time. The other catch is that readers pay less if they buy more tokens. Since it is based on what a reader spends, you will make less if a reader buys tokens in bulk. Now you're seeing the potential issues.

But If Readers Check it Out...

Think about the most popular serialized fiction platforms -- Wattpad and Radish. These platforms allow readers to directly engage with a writer. It is like having built in beta readers every time you publish a story. When an author uses their own blog or Patreon to put out episodes of an upcoming book, they again have feedback and direct interaction with an author. Kindle Vella doesn't do this. Readers can only gives likes in the forms of hearts or thumbs up. They can not comment or directly interact with an author. Many people who are used to (and in to) serialized fiction want that direct interaction. Vella doesn't provide it.

Another thing Vella does not provide is discovery. Not like you'd find on other platforms, at least. You tag your story and hope people discover it. In reality, you are doing your own legwork and promotion. If you don't have an audience built on episodic or serialized fiction, I'd imagine you'll have a difficult time making Vella work for you.

Vella Isn't Free for Readers, Unlike...

Other platforms allow readers to access serialized fiction for free. Whether that's Wattpad, another platform or an author's own blog. Readers who are used to serialized fiction expect to see stories for free, or they expect a benefit from it. In the case of authors who use Patreon (like I do), readers are able to directly interact with the author and give their feedback. As we already saw, that level of interaction isn't possible for Vella readers.

But Shae, You Use Vella!

Duh. It's a hype train. No, I don't think it will work in the long run. I think other platforms are going to do better. I also believe serialized fiction has a place, and indie authors should take advantage of it. I'm doing just that. Once Vella begins to fizzle out, I'll be using other options and opportunities. For now, I'm riding the hype. It's the smart thing to do.

In My Opinion...

Vella is a bit of a money grab. It's not a platform that's meant to benefit authors and readers together. Sure, readers get good stories, but they get them without the extra interaction. And they pay more for it. If someone supports me on Patreon, they get every single episode I've published to date for as little as $1 a month. With Vella, a reader will spend way more than that to unlock and read every episode. Authors who use Patreon, Wattpad or Radish are giving readers free or low cost access to their stories for the benefit of getting that feedback.

It is also a platform that is going the way of Wattpad and Radish. Vella is full of young adult fiction that focuses heavily on romance. Other genres have a difficult time getting seen on platforms like that. Sure, there are exceptions. Overall, that's what many people look for on those platforms.

If you are an author who wants to get direct reader feedback and change how you get paid, find other avenues than Kindle Vella. Utilize Patreon, Ko-fi or a crowdsourcing platform. Or, utilize Wattpad if you want direct feedback. There are too many unknowns with Kindle Vella, and I'm not sure it's going to last in the long run.

Then again, that's my opinion. I could be completely wrong.