Kindle Vella is Amazon’s attempt to grab a piece of a promising market niche of subscription-based serialized storytelling.
Amazon Kindle dominates the global market of ebooks. But a more community-driven, mobile-first reading market is a domain of Wattpad, Radish, and similar platforms.
We are yet to see how effective Amazon’s new platform will be. But so far, Kindle Vella offers new opportunities for self-published authors to explore as well as limitations to consider.
Read along to learn more.
- Kindle Vella overview
- How does Kindle Vella work?
- How much will you earn from Kindle Vella?
- Kindle Vella stories requirements
- Kindle Vella Submission Process
- Kindle Vella story images
- Kindle Vella pros for self-published authors
- Kindle Vella cons for self-published authors
- Kindle Vella for self-published authors: yay or nay
Kindle Vella overview
Kindle Vella is a KDP platform where you can publish original short episodes of grander stories for subscribers to enjoy. Then, the readers can access the episodes through a mobile app or website.
Currently, Kindle Vella is
- Only for the US-based writers
- Open for English-language submissions
- Presumably, will launch to US-only readers in summer
- Can be accessed through iOS app or Amazon website
Kindle Vella is expected to expand its presence in case of positive reception.
How does Kindle Vella work?
Here’s how Kindle Vella experience looks like
- A writer creates an original story divided into 500 to 6000-word episodes and submits them to Vella.
- If the submission is accepted, the episodes go online for readers to enjoy.
- The first 3 episodes of any story are free for readers; the rest is accessed by tokens, which are worth money. (The price of an episode depends on its length.)
- The writer earns 50% of the tokens’ worth that readers spent on their episode.
- Readers can thumb up or “fave” the stories, which affects their rating and visibility. (A user can favorite only a single story per week.)
- The writer can leave the “author’s notes” at the end of episodes to share additional thoughts and hint at what will be happening in the future chapter. (Note that external links are not allowed in the author’s notes.)
- Rinse repeat.
That’s great but how much exactly will I earn from Vella?
How much is 50% of all tokens users spend on your stories? How many $ can indie writers expect to earn for 1000 words on Kindle Vella?
Unfortunately, there’s no definite answer to this question.
First, the price of the tokens is likely to change as Amazon fine-tunes their system.
Second, the current prices provided by Kindle come in different packages. It means that the cost of a token differs depending on the chosen package.
But, we’ll try our best to answer the question.
Currently, Kindle Vella claims to charge 1 token per 100 words.
Let’s take a look at the theoretical Kindle Vella prices provided by Amazon.
In this table, we’ve calculated how much you’ll get from Vella per 1,000-words episode depending on the package readers paid for.
In theory, if 100 people who bought 525 tokens have read your 1,000-words episode, spending 10 tokens each, you can expect to earn $4.7. If you have 10 such episodes, you will get $47.
Sounds not bad.
But (there’s always but)
Amazon also plans to conduct token buying through mobile channels that charge a fee. In this case, “the fee will be deducted from the revenue that is shared.”
Apple’s fee is 30%. As follows, you will earn 35% of the tokens’ worth (which is 50*(full price – 30% fee) / full price).
Thus, if 100 people with the 525-tokens package have read your 1000-word episode, you’ll get $3.29. If you have 10 such episodes, you’ll get $32.9.
Kindle Vella stories requirements
The primary requirement of the stories you will publish to Kindle Vella — the story should be completely original.
It results in the following limitations:
- You can’t divide already published stories into chunks and submit them to Vella;
- You can’t submit translations of your stories published in other languages to Vella;
- You can’t publish your story anywhere else for free.
On the other hand:
- You can publish your serialization on other platforms that support the format;
- You can publish your story elsewhere as a single story only after WITHDRAWING it from Vella. (Readers who bought your story will have access to it even after your withdrawal.)
If you want to publish to Vella a continuation of another story authored and owned by you:
You can include up to 5000 words of the original’s content in the first episode. The chunk should serve as a connection between the stories.
Besides the mentioned requirements, the story should be written with serialization in mind. Though Kindle can’t really check it, the nature of your story’s narrative will affect its performance on Vella.
Keep in mind that Vella is a work in progress. It means that their terms of service are likely to change.
Kindle Vella story submission process
Kindle Vella’s story submission process is straightforward. You can create stories through your KDP dashboard.
To publish a story, you have to provide the following information:
- Story completion status — to notify readers if the story is complete or more episodes are coming.
- Story title
- Author name
- Story description
- Story image — an alternative to a book cover design
- Story categories — up to 2 categories for story classification
- Story tags — up to 7 tags that help readers find your story. Amazon recommends using subgenre and narrative descriptors.
To learn more about the requirements and limitations of story details, go here.
Overview of Kindle Vella story book covers
As you may have noticed, Kindle Vella stories have the alternative to book covers, called story images.
Though they’re fairly similar to traditional book covers, there are important distinctions:
- Story images shouldn’t include a title
- Story images are squares 1600 x 1600
- Story images should not exceed 2 MB
- Story images should be jpg and tiff
- Story images displayed as circles
Quite likely story images will play an important role in the marketing of your writing on the platform. We are paying close attention to Kindle Vella trends and standards so in case you need a story image, we can provide you with the one that does your writing justice.
Kindle Vella pros for self-published authors
Considering all we’ve learned so far, here are Kindle Vella pros for independent authors:
- Access to a new audience
Traditional book readers and serialized book readers don’t overlap. In addition, subscription-based services where you can try a lot of different ‘dishes’ before committing to purchase are more popular with younger generations. It means that with Vella, independent authors will have better access to new readers.
- Great opportunity to exercise useful skill
Serialized storytelling is growing in popularity. Vella provides a convenient place to exercise this skill and potentially earn some money in the process.
Kindle Vella is fairly easy to use. A pleasant and smooth user experience is essential for stressless existence.
- A new competitor in the niche
Kindle Vella is a competitor to be reckoned with. It means that other companies, such as Wattpad and Radish, will have to up their game to keep up. We hope it will lead to better terms for authors.
Kindle Vella cons for self-published authors
Considering all we’ve learned so far, here are Kindle Vella cons for independent authors:
- Limited communication with fans
Unlike its competitors, Kindle Vella’s interaction with fans is limited to thumb ups, faves, and author notes. It’s fairly limited functionality that doesn’t allow for building active communities. That’s a massive disadvantage for self-published authors who can benefit from more active interaction. Perhaps, Amazon will address it in the future.
So far if we account for a mobile fee, it seems that Vella will charge authors a significant amount. Thus, Vella isn’t the best candidate for a stable source of income. Besides, the first three episodes are free.
- Stressful serialization experience
Creating episodes that will keep the audience engaged differs from writing books. It’s new stress for authors who prefer the calm flow of writing novels to a more tense episodic approach. (It’s also great news for authors who breathe cliffhangers.)
- Strict ToS
Once you publish on Vella, you can’t repackage your episodes as a book and sell it elsewhere without withdrawing it from Vella. We understand that it’s an obvious decision for Amazon. But for authors, it’s a significant limitation that leads to some difficult choices.
- Uncertain Future
We can’t predict how Kindle Vella will change its terms of service and pricing policy in the future. It’s even more difficult to predict whether it will successfully compete in the niche. On the other hand, the growing monopoly of Amazon in the market is a problem for self-published authors.
Kindle Vella for Self-Published Writer: Yay or Nay?
First, it’s important to understand that Kindle Vella isn’t an alternative to KDP or usual publishing. Vella is aimed at another audience — mostly teens and young adults who prefer reading from phones and like subscription-based services.
It also affects which genres work best for the format. For example, the most popular genres on Radish are romance, young adult fantasy, paranormal, LGBTQ+ literature. It’s quite likely the same genres will gain traction on Vella. If that’s your niche, and you’d like to try episodic storytelling, you can try Vella.
Also, authors who have strong episodic storytelling skills and didn’t find stable footing with the Radish audience can try their luck with Vella. Vela can also be a solution for self-publishing beginners who are not sure about the traditional approach.
An established writer with a stable source of income isn’t likely to benefit from Vella much. Unless they have unpublished stories they are willing to serialize and make exclusive to Vella. It can win them new readers and bring some money.
Regardless of your choice, our advice for all the indie authors who decide to use Vella:
Keep a close eye on Vella’s terms of service to be sure that the rights to your stories stay with you. Such a platform is a prime tool for finding great material for live-action adaptations.
Kindle Vella can provide a great opportunity to switch things up and try a novel approach to being a self-published author. Though we do understand that the time to try new things is a privilege not everyone can afford.
So how do you think, Kindle Vella — Yay or Nay?