Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
The Internet has given authors all kinds of opportunities in the 21st century. In fact, self-publishing tools and platforms have let all kinds of people step into the ring without gate-keeping agents or publishing houses. But is Kindle Vella something that offers value to the author and reader?
It’s an interesting idea, to be sure. And it could be something that even the busiest of aspiring authors can experiment with to get their names out there.
What is Kindle Vella?
Kindle Vella is Amazon’s way of distributing serialized content traded by an in-house currency called, “Tokens.” Each token allows users to unlock episodes of around 100 words each. So, if the episode is 2,047 words long, it would cost 20 tokens.
These “episodes” can be part of an ongoing book or published all at once. This means you can get started publishing right away while earning royalties in less time than it would take to write and publish a full-length novel.
The stories in Kindle Vella are considered eBooks. This means you won’t have the option to publish them in paperback or hardcover until you process them through Kindle Direct Publishing.
Benefits of Using Kindle Vella
- Can start immediately
Although you can start writing immediately, you might want to have an editor browse through your manuscript before uploading.
- Can start generating revenue sooner
Many of us will take months, if not longer, to write and publish an actual book. Kindle Vella lets you start earning royalties quicker.
- Great for busy authors to get noticed
Some of us have full-time jobs that take away from writing our books. If you can cram in 600 to 5,000 words per week, you can start engaging an audience today.
Drawbacks of Using Kindle Vella
- May pay less than an actual eBook or printed copy
In most cases, you’ll make less using Kindle Vella than publishing a full-sized manuscript as a book. Most of this is because of the 50% share with Amazon. (See Below)
- Relatively newer platform
It doesn’t seem like Kindle Vella is overly popular, but that’s mostly because it’s still a bit new. However, some stories have more than a hundred thousand likes, so it looks like a growing platform.
- You don’t earn royalties from free tokens
You only earn revenue from people who have paid for tokens. Since anyone can instantly claim 200 tokens, that could be 20,000 words you give away for free.
- Self-publishing marketing needed
Search on Amazon can only go so far. And like any other self-published manuscript, marketing is on your shoulders. This is true with any self-publishing platform, though.
Where Do You Start with Kindle Vella?
Kindle Vella is quite straightforward in terms of usability. As long as you have a good description and a 1600×1600 image of your story, the rest of the setup is quick and easy.
Well, I guess that’s a personal opinion, rather. I know some authors who have the hardest time with titles and tags. And the description of the book itself can be a chore to complete.
It’s kind of like what you’d find on the back of a book’s jacket.
Alright, let’s dive a bit into what we can expect from Kindle Vella.
Publishing Episode at a Time
One of the things that pique my interest more than anything is the fact that you can publish your work a chunk at a time. As long as your episode is within the 600-to-5,000-word threshold, you can publish the manuscript.
This is perfect for people who are as busy as I am, attend school, or have full-time jobs but what to get their feet wet as an author.
However, this also means that you need to have episodes out in a timely manner. If people are paying for parts of the story, they’re going to need the continuation. Otherwise, you’ll shoot yourself in the foot and start earning a bad reputation.
Writing 600 to 5,000 Words at a Time
For someone like me, 600 to 5,000 words in Kindle Vella doesn’t take much time at all. In fact, while rewriting VII, I could crank out 1,300+ words per hour. So, in about an hour or two, I could have a decent episode for the week.
Of course, this is after my editor goes through the tale and I make edits.
The bottom line is that short bursts like this aren’t necessarily difficult for the avid writer. Even while taking my time with Kingmaker, I can still write more than 800 in an hour.
Just make sure that it’s polished up enough to warrant someone paying for the story.
Tokens to Unlock Episodes
The way Kindle Vella works is that readers pay for “tokens” to unlock the serials. They will pay for tokens upfront and then spend from their pool to continue reading your story.
This is kind of an interesting take on monetizing books, but it might have merit for those who actively use the Kindle platform. Unfortunately, you don’t earn royalties from readers who spend “free” tokens to unlock the episodes.
Essentially, it’s Amazon’s way of making a few extra bucks. Especially when you consider that it’s a 50/50 split, which is worse than if you were to publish the book as a whole on KDP.
Enrolling in KDP Select
Adding your book to Kindle Vella gives you access to KDP Select. This is Amazon’s promotional platform for avid readers and could get your manuscript in front of far more readers.
KDP Select has a lot of promotional tools and deals as well as Amazon’s literary contests, when available.
The biggest downside to KDP Select is that your book becomes proprietary to Amazon. This means you cannot publish it anywhere else. However, if you’re using Kindle Vella, you can’t necessarily publish it in other places anyway.
In fact, that’s one of the requirements of using the system. You can only share clips of your Kindle Vella manuscript as promotional elements.
Lots of Genres to Choose From
There are a lot of genres available on Amazon’s Kindel Vella. The only one that isn’t represented is “Horror,” which seems to be a common theme with many publishers nowadays.
Luckily, you can still separate horror novels using tagging methods.
Regardless of what you want to focus on writing, it’s relatively easy to fit it into the system. As long as you follow Amazon’s content guidelines, you can start generating some interest in your novel today.
Tags to Further Separate Your Story
Tags in Kindle Vella give you an extra element for promoting your story to a certain audience. They act similarly to keywords whereas readers can find like-minded storylines and books using those tags.
For instance, I can tag my story as “Horror” and it will show up alongside other horror-tagged stories. It’s essentially an added method of marketing that may prove useful for readers looking for specific interests.
When setting up tags, remember to use the most relevant to your manuscript.
Adding to the Author Page on Amazon?
As of 2022, the Kindle Vella “books” you publish will show within your Amazon’s Author Page. This is a shareable page dedicated to your contributions as an author on Amazon.
The author page contains all of your connected works as well as a bio and a follow button. This way, fans of your work can keep in the loop when you publish something new.
Although I’d rather focus more on my own blog, the author page is a nice touch when you want something quick to share on social media, email, or anywhere else you can slap a link.
Is the Money from Kindle Vella Worth the Time?
One of the things that help drive Kindle Vella is the “unlock” mechanism. This allows readers to essentially buy a book one “episode” at a time, which could ultimately cost them just a few cents per week depending on the length of the episode.
For an author, it allows someone to write an episode per week and earn a bit of commission before the book is even finished. It’s kind of reminiscent of Early Access gaming, where it’s often cheaper to get in before the project is completed.
Now, I say “per week” because that’s what I would do as an author. Your readers will be of utmost importance, which means quick delivery of the next episode.
However, there doesn’t seem to be a time limit for Kindle Vella. But if you want to keep your audience interested, you should publish quite often.
The attraction is just how cheap a book can be to read, especially if it’s written by a talented author.
So, let’s say that you publish about 2,000 words every week. According to the Kindle Vella royalties page from Amazon, you’ll roughly make around $0.10. After publishing an entire 80,000-word book, you’ll have made a total of $3.98 from that one individual reader.
This is because of the 50/50 split you’ll share with Amazon.
The reader will have spent roughly $7.96 to read the entire book. For some, this is a bit higher than the average eBook. But when compared to the cost of a paperback or hardcover of the same book, it’s frankly not all that bad.
The actual total fluctuates a bit depending on the “deal” the reader purchases in tokens. And this total will be lower should the reader use free tokens to unlock the episode.
Kindle Vella uses KDP’s payout timeline. This means that you’ll receive royalties 60 days after the month in which you earned them. So, if you made $3 from episodes in January, you’ll see that money hit your bank account in April.
You’d think in the digital age, there would be a faster way for authors to earn royalties. But then you have to consider how some people will “return” products for a refund.
It’s actually quite a problem with eBooks.
I recently read a complaint about how Kindle Vella is ultimately screwing readers because of how much it costs to buy an “entire book.” What I suspect happened is that this particular individual didn’t have his math correct.
He mentioned how an average-sized novel would wind up costing readers up to $800. This is what happens when you don’t move decimal points correctly.
At the lowest tier ($1.99 for 200 tokens), each token is worth about $0.00995. Each token unlocks up to 100 words at a time.
For an 80,000-word book, it’ll take 800 tokens in total to unlock all the episodes (80,000 / 100).
This means the entire book is worth roughly $7.96 to the reader (800 * .00995).
Do I Plan on Publishing to Kindle Vella Often?
Kindle Vella definitely has my attention. I’m not sure if it’ll be something worth the time I’ll invest in writing a whole new, proprietary story. But I’ll give it a shot. Especially since it’ll work well with my ultra-busy schedule.
When you think about the royalties, in general, it’s not much different from what you’d make publishing a full-length book through KDP. Right now, the royalties I have for A Freelancer’s Tale are less than what I would make through Kindle Vella.
I guess the best answer to this question is, “it depends on how long Amazon maintains the platform.”
I have an uncanny ability to jump on something toward the ass-end of its existence. Every time I show an interest in something, the company goes bankrupt or stops supporting the precise features I liked.
I feel like I’m always the last one to the party and all that’s left is empty Solo cups and slight remnants of pizza cheese in the box. That’s after stepping over all of the passed-out, drunk people as I walk into the door.
In any case, I do intend on publishing some work to Kindle Vella within the next couple of weeks or so. As I really don’t have a lot of time on my hands, I need to make sure I can write something new without interfering with the two other books I’m currently trying to publish.
What’s Your Favorite Publishing Platform?
I haven’t had a chance to publish my own story on Kindle Vella. But it’s definitely on my to-do list. Mostly because I love publicity in any form and love to write. So, there’s no doubt that I’ll at least have one story on the system soon.
That means I’ll update this post as soon as I can collect some more data regarding my own episodes.
Out of all the platforms that are online, which is currently your favorite for publishing manuscripts? I like so many of them that it’s hard to really pinpoint a favorite. Each has its benefits that make them worthwhile, in my opinion.
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