Everything You Need to Know about Kindle Vella
“You’ll just click on what you want, knowing you’ll be charged a nickel on an aggregated basis.
This technology will liberate publishers to charge small amounts of money, in the hope of attracting wide audiences.”
Gates foresaw the potential of content on the internet and its monetization back in 1996 when digital transactions were still struggling to hatch their eggs. Today, they have evolved from web advertisements and spread their wings across the web. Multimedia content has already established its roots from short-form content like YouTube to long-form like Netflix. The literary world, however, evolved slightly differently, specifically fiction.
Fiction literature has also followed suit now after witnessing the success of serials in the television industry. Radish Fiction, a serialized fiction app launched on Valentine’s Day in 2015, took the lead by offering serialized fiction literature on a platform where authors can interact live with their readers. Radish was not alone in the race at that time; there was another. Wattpad that launched in 2006, offers similar features of serialized fiction reading experience and reader engagement. Both of these platforms migrated from the conventional publishing and ebook structures. They made use of the digitization trends to push the literary world towards the next stage of evolution.
And what’s the next stage of the evolution of fiction literature? Kindle Vella.
When Radish and Wattpad launched, they started as literary platforms from scratch. Although they have a wide reader-base and talented writers writing some of the best-serialized fiction right now, they are not as big as Amazon (KDP) Kindle Direct Publishing. KDP is a massive platform and currently leading the ebook market, so they have the edge in that arena. When Kindle Vella goes live later this year, they won’t have to wait for neither writers nor readers to jump on their bandwagon. If it becomes successful, the Kindle Vella will have a considerable impact on the industry.
What is serialized fiction?
For readers who are still clueless about how serialized fiction works, let’s clear the concept first. What we mean by serialized fiction is not a series of books but a series of chapters released individually, one after another. Readers don’t have to wait for the whole book to get published before they can start reading. They can jump into the story as soon as the first chapter is composed and then wait for the next “episode” to release as the writer works on it. The readers leave their thoughts and feedback about the released content, and the writer can improve in real-time, all while the book is being written.
Think of books as movies and serialized fiction as TV shows. There can be multiple books in a series, but a serialized story is long-form content broken down into episodes. Just like there is potential and a different market for TV shows aside from movies, there is a largely untapped market for serialized fiction content as well. Amazon has already taken over the ebook market. Kindle Vella is its response to the potential in serialized content.
Let’s dig deep into what Kindle Vella really is.
What is Kindle Vella?
Kindle Vella is Amazon’s serialized fiction platform where authors will write stories split into episodes that are released one by one. Readers will have to purchase each episode except for the first few episodes. The first three episodes will be made available for free by Amazon. Readers can read the free content to decide whether they like the story and want to continue or not.
If the readers wish to continue the story and read further, they can purchase the next episode and start reading right from the same screen.
For the Authors
The author interface of Reader Vella is already live. Writers can upload their stories and set release dates of their content in the Kindle Vella Library along with other details (more on them later). The complete platform will be made available to readers in a few months. Amazon has not yet announced the release date, but at the most, it is expected to roll out before the holiday season starts later this year.
If you wish to get started as a serialized fiction writer or plan to do so in the future, here are the details you need to know to make an informed decision.
Can I join Kindle Vella as an author?
Kindle Vella is only going to be available for US-based authors. Authors based outside of the US won’t be able to join the program from the start. But it will give them a chance to see how the program plays out in the market, whether it’s successful for authors or not, what kind of audience it attracts, etc. Authors will be able to gauge what they need to do in order to become successful Vella authors.
It is expected that in the future, Kindle Vella will open up to authors worldwide. Once it does, writers will already have examples of successes and failures to learn from.
How will I earn royalties from Kindle Vella?
A Kindle Vella story is divided into what’s called episodes. After the first three episodes of your story, if the reader wants to continue reading further, they unlock the fourth episode using “tokens”.
Tokens will be available on the Kindle Vella store in “bundles”. The tokens will serve as the currency for the Kindle Vella store, and readers will make episode-wise purchases using them.
The cost of the tokens a reader uses to unlock your episode is divided between the reader, Amazon, and the middlemen. For example, if a reader makes a purchase from iOS, Apple keeps a cut from it. From the remaining money, the author takes half, and the other half goes to Amazon.
In simple terms, the author will earn 50% of what readers have paid to Amazon to purchase those tokens. The monetization formula is clear and straightforward:
What kind of content can I publish on Kindle Vella?
The important thing to note here about the guidelines of the content is that Kindle Vella is exclusive. That means you can’t publish any story on Kindle Vella that you’ve published on any other platform. In fact, you can’t even publish any story on Kindle Vella that you’ve published on Kindle Direct Publishing even though they are both Amazon’s platforms.
But so far, it appears that content published as books can not be converted into serialized fiction and published at Kindle Vella. However, if an author wants to publish their Kindle Vella story as a book, they can do so after deleting all the episodes from their Vella profile. No Kindle Vella story can exist as a book anywhere else either, not even as a translated version. Amazon wants the content on this new platform to be exclusive to the platform.
The good news is that Kindle Vella offers the authors the option to add seven tags to each story. Each tag will serve as a category and a search term to look up other stories that share the same tag. The option will offer increased visibility to stories as readers will be able to search for stories that are similar to their favorite ones. Authors who utilize this feature wisely will enjoy increased visibility and a wider audience. The same Kindle ebook guidelines for tags apply to Vella tags as well.
How to start writing for Kindle Vella?
Since you can not use your previously written stories to test the waters in Amazon’s new platform, you will have to write fresh new content for it unless you have already written a serialized fictional story
The good news about starting anew is that you can tune your story to be more successful in the serialized format. Remember, when you’re marketing a book, your goal is to sell the story as a whole. Once the reader buys the book, whether they read it or not, you’ve earned the royalty. In serialized fiction, you will have to sell every single episode on its own. Although the whole story should be captivating enough to keep the readers coming back, individual episodes will be important. Authors will have to craft each episode carefully to incorporate plot twists, turning points, character reveals, and cliffhangers at such points of the story that their readers are convinced to continue reading.
How will writing serialized fiction be different from writing a book?
When a writer usually starts writing a book, they have a rough sketch of the main plot in their head. They can start writing the book from their rough idea and continue to define the details as they go. When they reach the end of their first draft, the details of the storyline and characters and the sequence of how the story unfolds become defined.
The draft is then edited thoroughly, and the manuscript polished until the final version of the book reveals itself. The book can then be released to the world. Once the book is published, the story is set in stone till its end.
When the story is to be published one episode at a time. There are certain things to be considered. For starters, each episode will have to be edited and proofread individually as they are released. The writer cannot wait for the story to finish before they can start editing. Secondly, as each episode is released and feedback is acquired from the readers, the following episodes and the story decisions will be affected accordingly.
The writer has the advantage that they can get feedback from their audience while the story is being written. So if their audience doesn’t appreciate a change, they can do something about it. Moreover, when the writer is writing a book, they don’t know how their audience is going to react to bold decisions about the story. Kindle Vella will give the writers the chance to fix their mistakes before a story is finished.
What is the downside of receiving feedback in real-time?
The downside is that the writer’s original idea will always be tainted by the reader’s desires. That means the uniqueness of creative ideas in the fiction literature world will be compromised. The literature will be at the risk of going bland after a while.
Authors who will have fresh ideas, to begin with, will not find the same traction as the subgenres that have established themselves to be successful and popular. Writers will have to work hard to stay creatively unique and fresh in their ideas and continue to bring something new to the table. The market will become highly competitive very quickly.
Not all subgenres of fiction are equally successful in the serialized fiction structure. Some subgenres will be more successful than others. Authors will be forced to comply with the audience’s demands to become more successful.
What are the benefits of such author-reader interaction?
In this structure, authors who cement their foundations in their subgenres will form a good readership and following. Their readers will connect with the author in a way that is hard to achieve in the book-writing world. They will be reading the author’s notes, giving thumbs up to the episode they like, and eagerly waiting for the next episode knowing that the author is busy writing the next episode of the story.
Authors can take the opportunity of author’s notes to leave insights, personalized messages for the readers, and announcements at the end of each episode. When Vella becomes available for the readers, we will find out all the different ways authors use the feature to connect with their audience.
Additionally, Kindle Vella will award its readers the option to mark a story as their “Fave”. Every reader who unlocks at least one episode a week will earn the option to crown a story as their fave. The most faved stories will be featured accordingly and earn extra exposure.
For the Readers
Serialized fiction is relatively more rewarding for the readers. Readers will have the freedom to opt-out of the story whenever they like. When you are buying a book, you are deciding to pay for the whole story. So if you realize you don’t like the book at any point and stop reading, it only gives you more regret for the increasing number of titles in your to-read list. You not finishing the book you’ve bought doesn’t mean much for your wallet because you have already paid for it.
At Kindle Vella, you can buy the story in chunks. You can purchase an episode only when you want to read it. If you do not like a story and do not wish to continue, you can choose not to buy the next episode. In that way, you only pay for as much as you read.
From that perspective, writers will always have to stay on edge to deliver only the highest quality content. They will be contesting to retain their readers throughout each story. Because a single episode gone wrong could mean lost potential royalties from future episodes.
When the audience is so vocal about the product, the market evolves faster, and there is little room for mistakes. This could prove to be a good starting point for new writers to polish their fiction writing skills. Alternatively, it could also prove to be more difficult for new writers to set their feet in the ground. Nevertheless, writing for serialized fiction is a good place to hone fiction writing skills and build a reader base.
A Deep Connection
Readers will also have more of an impact on a story. In book writing, the reader base does not have a direct impact on how the story is written and how it ends. With Kindle Vella’s reader engagement, the readers can collectively affect the story with their likes and fave-ing depending upon how the author reacts to them.
In a way, the readers can truly be a part of the story when they influence the author’s writing decisions in real-time. The connection they form with the author is unmatchable.
A More Enriching Experience
The readers leaving thumbs-ups and faves on their favorite episodes will unveil opportunities to form a strong social circle of users. These people will be brought together under a common flag of their likes, interests, and opinions.
An enriching social experience means readers will also stay hooked to the platform. It will also mean the authors will earn more following, which will attract more writers to write for the platform, and in turn, the platform will grow.
And as Mr Gates predicted back in 1996, the apparent goal of Amazon to broaden its ebook audience will be fulfilled.
Kindle Vella Launch Date
Amazon has already launched Kindle Vella in April 2021 to get the ball rolling. Numerous authors all across the US have already started lining up their serialized fiction stories for release for when the platform opens for readers. So when the readers arrive, they will already have a variety of serialized fiction to experience Kindle Vella. So the Kindle Vella launch date for authors has already passed, the launch date for readers is yet to be officially announced by Amazon.
The platform is expected to open for readers to indulge in serialized fiction later this year. Experts have analyzed the ebook fiction market’s buying behaviour patterns and predicted the launch of the reader interface to be later in the same year. The two most profitable options for the Kindle Vella launch date for readers would be in the summers or right before the holiday season. The experts doubt Amazon will have collected enough content from serialized fiction authors until summer to release it to the readers, but there isn’t enough information to claim anything.
In any case, the readers shouldn’t have to wait much before they can start experiencing serialized fiction in a brand new way with Amazon’s Kindle Vella. We are waiting eagerly for its release, and so should all fiction lovers.
Kindle Vella is a brand new way for Kindle readers to experience fiction literature. It follows roughly the same structure previously seen with other serialized fiction platforms like Wattpad and Radish. But Amazon has modified its platform to attract a broader audience and bring them to their folds of ebook publishing. It offers enhanced reader engagement and a way for the author to interact with their reader base and grow their following. But increased engagement and serialized publication mean high competition for the writer to keep their readers hooked and coming back for more. Although the authors do not get a big chunk of the royalties, the platform has other benefits to offer the authors. Whether it will be a success or a failure, only time can tell. The author interface is live, and writers can start setting their stories for release. The complete platform will become available to the readers later this year. It is expected to revolutionize how fiction literature is consumed in the ebook market. This could be the future of fiction in the digital world.