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Publishing on Kindle Vella

This is my very first blog post! I’ve only recently begun putting my work out there, and I created this website to showcase it and hopefully share and connect with readers and other writers. I hope you enjoy it!

I recently started two Kindle Vella serials, or “stories.” Kindle Vella is a relatively new Amazon program that was launched in summer 2021. It currently is only available in the United States, but in theory Kindle Vella will eventually be rolled out to other countries as well, though I don’t know the timeline for that.

So what is it? Through Kindle Vella, you can post stories told in a serialized format in episodes that vary between 600 words and 5000 words in length. Readers can follow your stories and receive notifications (but only if they have followed the story using the app, I’ve recently discovered)) whenever a new episode gets posted, and they can react to each episode by giving a thumbs up. They can also leave star-based reviews, just like for any book on Amazon, and readers who have purchased tokens can click on the crown button to make your story their “favorite” for that week. Stories with the most “favorites” are shown on the “Top Faved” leader board.

Kindle Vella offers another perk – the option to write a “choose your own adventure” story. With every episode, the author has the option of ending with a reader poll. Should the protagonist do this, or should they do that? Some stories have a poll for every episode; others don’t use polls at all. It depends on the story. Personally, I occasionally use polls as a fun feature for my readers, but I need to exercise primary control over the plot.

What about the cost? It’s free to publish on Kindle Vella. I didn’t even pay for a cover design, since the icon that will be shown for your story is a single, circular image. I just purchased relevant images from Adobe Stock.

Kindle Vella is also free to read, to a point. The first three episodes of every story can be read free. After that, readers unlock each episode by spending “tokens.” You can purchase bundles of tokens at a rate of $1.99 for 200 tokens, $4.99 for 525 tokens, and so on. However, the first time you click on the purchase tokens button, Amazon will give you 500 free tokens, and those tokens really stretch because episodes only cost 1 token for every 100 words. For example, most of my episodes are around 1000 words long, so they cost 10 tokens each.

My experience with Kindle Vella in the past two months has been overwhelmingly positive. I’m having fun developing these stories episode by episode (and sometimes bobbing and weaving when they take an unexpected turn). And for the very first time, I am making money off my writing, which has been such a good feeling, it’s dumbfounding. I’m still figuring out how to market my Kindle Vella stories, as I suspect most Kindle Vella authors are, especially because many people aren’t even aware of this program. But it’s a great feeling to know that readers are consuming your material and are enjoying it, and I hope to continue building my readership (more on that to come, hopefully).

So what about people who say that they want to read a novel all at once, not split into episodes? Well, my philosophy is a Kindle Vella story is not just a novel split into pieces, or at least, mine are not. One day, when the stories are complete, I may revise them and self-publish them as novels, but they’ll need a lot of work to go from a serial to a novel, especially when it comes to pacing. The pacing of a serial is different from that of a novel. I think of writing a serial as cutting away everything from a story that isn’t essential and focusing on those key moments that move the story along in the most dramatic way.

The way I see it, I can’t expect someone to spend tokens to unlock an episode that’s purely backstory or the inner musings of the character. I want to pay back the reader for the tokens they spend with glimpses into the story that pack a punch – that are funny or suspenseful or surprising. I think a good Kindle Vella episode has a strong reader pay off, and I’m not above ending on a cliffhanger to make the reader want to unlock the next episode and the next.

My first serial, Alpaca Witch, is a YA fantasy romance following the story of Tabitha Warner as she battles an infamous warlock to save her family farm and preserve their magical lineage. In the process, she encounters Kade Delacruz, a warlock whose family was killed by the same warlock who is after Tabitha, and sexy magic sparkles ensue.

My second serial, Danika Miller Alien Hunter, is a gritty science fiction thriller set in a dystopian future that follows Danika Miller, a disgraced Justice and Order agent, as she fights to clear her name after her cousin stole the patents to the interdimensional gateways and unleashed a flood of alien traffic into New Manhattan.

The stories couldn’t be more different, but they’ve been a great opportunity to really stretch my creativity and hone my editing skills. In a Kindle Vella episode, I want every single word to count.

I hope you take a look at Kindle Vella one of these days and explore the wide range of awesome stories that are available on there (and maybe take a peek at mine). Thanks for reading!
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