Back in 2021, Amazon expanded its offerings, introducing Kindle Vella to their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. With this new addition, Amazon is dipping into the growing niche of serialized publishing and opens a new chapter for self-publishing writers. It offers a different sort of engagement for authors and readers and a new way to collect royalties for writers. Below, you can learn more about the platform, its perks, the audience, and what stories are best suited for this particular offering.
What Is Kindle Vella?
Kindle Vella is Amazon’s answer to episodic or serialized storytelling, similar to platforms like Wattpad. With Vella, readers access stories in short episodes. Amazon offers three episodes for free, and then users pay with Tokens to access further episodes after the trial ends. Readers can interact with authors through several features and unlock as many stories as they want if they have the Tokens to support them.
How Does Kindle Vella Work?
Amazon’s Kindle Vella focuses on episodes. Each episode is a 600-5000 word chapter that acts as part of a full story. Readers get access to episodes through an exchange of tokens, with authors receiving 50% of the royalties from Tokens. It’s a new, innovative way for writers to collect royalties. The cost of episodes varies depending on length, with the longest costing 50 Tokens to unlock.
Episodes display as one long page, so there’s no need for page-turning. It’s currently available in the United States and accessible on iOS, Android, and Desktop, making it ideal for mobile and internet readers.
The platform also offers many features to encourage interactions between the authors and their readers. Some features are available to everyone, while only paying users can access others.
Kindle Vella Marketplace
Kindle Vella’s marketplace allows you to search for and sort stories in several different ways. You can narrow things down to categories or genres you enjoy. Revisiting old favorites and checking out what everyone else is reading is easy, too. Here are the basic ways to search for stories:
- Top Faved Stories: Stories with the highest number of Faves show up on the Leaderboard. Users who pay for tokens and unlock new episodes weekly have access to the Fave feature. They can give out one Fave per week, and stories collect faves for a month and then reset. That means February’s Top Faved Stories won’t necessarily make it into March’s Top Faved stories unless their audience returns and continues to Fave them.
- Genre Categories: Searching through the genre categories yields the usual fodder – Fantasy, Thriller, and so on. Once you choose a genre, you can access other sorting and searching options within it. If you’re searching for the most recently updated Romance stories, for instance, that sorting option is available in the genre category.
- Popular Tags: The Kindle Vella library is partly categorized with tags. Each story has up to seven tags. They essentially create sub-genres for stories, and tags have their own landing pages. Each genre has a collection of its most popular tags, and searching for a tag brings up a page with every story using that tag.
- Featured Stories: Featured stories come from any of Kindle Vella’s genres and categories. Anyone who publishes on Vella has a chance to be featured, whether they have a thousand thumbs up or only two!
- Recently Added Stories: This category represents the newest arrivals, regardless of genre.
- Stories You May Like: In this section, you’ll find stories Kindle Vella recommends based on your previous faves, unlocks, and tag visits.
The Kindle Vella store’s dashboard is built around reader preferences, and the social features play into that. Stories featured on the Leaderboard earn their place through readers leaving Faves. The Fave option, coupled with Thumbs Up and unlocking stories with Tokens, makes stories more likely to be featured. Kindle Vella bonuses are also given to authors with frequent interactions and activity.
Kindle Vella Token System
If you want to read an episode on Kindle Vella, you have to unlock it with the platform’s currency: Tokens. While Amazon’s Vella allows readers to access three stories for free, you’ll have to purchase Tokens to go any further. Purchasing Tokens also grants access to Faves, which can be used to boost stories you love and let authors know you enjoy their work. Readers get one Fave each week as long as they continue unlocking stories.
The amount of Tokens it takes to unlock a story varies depending on its length. 5000-word episodes are the longest Kindle Vella option, taking 50 Tokens to unlock, whereas a 600-word episode requires around six Tokens.
The Token system affects the way authors get paid, too. Authors earn 50% of the amount a reader spends to unlock their story. That seems simple, but the cost of Tokens varies depending on how many someone buys at a time. See the chart below for current rates and bundle options.
|Price for Reader
|Royalties per 1000 Words
Here’s the formula to determine royalties:
(Number of Tokens to unlock episode) * (Tokens bundle price /# Tokens in bundle – taxes and fees) * (50% rev share) = Earnings per episode
To see it in action, check out these examples. If a reader spends $1.99 to buy 200 Tokens and spends 50 of those Tokens on an episode, the author’s compensation is determined by this equation:
50 Tokens * ($1.99/200 Tokens – 0) * 50% = $0.24875
If another reader spends $9.99 on 1100 coins and unlocks the same story, the equation changes:
50 Tokens * ($9.99/1100 Tokens – 0) * 50% = $0.22704
As you can see, the author’s compensation is higher when the reader spends more money on their Tokens.
As a way for Amazon’s Vella to offer a taste of its offerings, each new user gets three episodes completely for free. To continue reading, they’ll have to spend a bit of money and buy Tokens. Think of it as a trial period where the user gets to choose exactly how to use it!
Including three free episodes benefits authors, too. It attracts new readers who might not be willing to spend Tokens to unlock a story but are willing to sample it for free and may then want to come back for more.
Reader & Author Interactions
One of Kindle Vella’s most exciting aspects is the different social features. With more traditional publishing platforms, authors and readers have limited ways to interact. That’s not the case on this platform. As you browse the Kindle Vella library, there are numerous ways to let the author and reader communicate.
- Follow: Follow an author to see their new content and updates.
- Fave: Users who purchase Tokens and unlock new episodes get one Fave each week. They can give that Fave to any story they want. The stories with the most Faves are featured on the Leaderboard.
- Thumbs Up: Thumbs Up is the feature that lets an author know you liked their work. Even users reading episodes for free can leave a Thumbs Up.
- Author’s Notes: This is a space for the author to add a quick blurb at the end of an episode to talk about the story or address readers.
- Polls: – Authors may add polls to their episodes, allowing readers to decide where the story goes and voice their opinions.
Kindle Vella is a space for writers to publish their work, but it doesn’t happen in a void. The ability to interact with the people reading their stories (and vice versa) is what makes the platform special.
Kindle Vella Dashboard
The Kindle Vella Dashboard is available through the KDP Reports page. Once you’re there, navigate to the Dashboard under the Kindle Vella heading. The Dashboard has several sections. Authors can see breakdowns of reader activity and interactions with their episodes, compensation information, and more!
- Kindle Vella Bonus
- Episodes Read
- Royalties Earned
- Episode Thumbs Up
- Story follows
- Story reviews
- Overview by episode
How do Kindle Vella authors get paid?
Earnings from Kindle Vella are combined with other KDP earnings. Authors are paid each month, about 60 days after the end of the month with the reported sale(s). In other words, royalties from sales made in January typically show up around the end of March. Writers can track their payment information and earnings on the KDP Reports Dashboard.
How to Publish to Kindle Vella
Kindle Vella is a beginner-friendly platform. It doesn’t require a lot of special formatting and it’s fairly intuitive to use. To get started, follow the steps below.
Step 1 – Create a New Story
Go to the Kindle Vella Library page. On the right-hand side, click the ‘Start a story’ button. Remember, a story on Vella is a collection of episodes, not one entry.
Step 2 – Story Setup
Once you begin your story, you’ll input the title, author name (or pen name), and a brief description. If you don’t want to enter a title for an episode, Kindle Vella auto-generates them by number. Your first episode would be Episode 1, for instance. You have 100 characters for the title and 500 for the description. Use them wisely!
Step 3 – Add Your Story Image
Below the sections for title and description is an option to upload an image. It displays as a circle, and Amazon recommends that you not include any text. The best covers look as if they belong with the story.
Step 4 – Select Your Categories
After uploading your image, it’s time to pick your categories. There’s a drop-down menu to pick your genre. Currently, Kindle Vella lists 15 different genres to choose from. There’s an optional secondary category, too, which has the same 15 options. As an example, you could publish a story in the “Mystery” category and select “Thriller” as the secondary category.
Step 5 – Choose Your Tags
Tags work a bit like keywords and help readers find the types of stories they’re looking for. They allow Amazon to sort stories into the places they belong, too, and make recommendations. When you click on a story, you can see all the associated tags. When entering your tags, type in the keyword you’re interested in and Kindle Vella will suggest similar or potentially related words.
Step 6 – Publish
Your next step is to click “Publish and start Episode 1.” You’re one step closer to uploading your episode! You can save your progress as a draft at this point, too.
Step 7 – Add Episode Content
After clicking publish, Vella takes you to a page to enter the title of your episode and add the episode text. Kindle Vella only accepts .doc or .docx file types. If your story is saved as a different file type, you can copy and paste the text. It’s one file per episode, too, so make sure you save each chapter as its own file.
Keep in mind that only basic formatting (bold, italics, and underlining) is available on the platform currently. You can also include polls, and there’s a space for author notes later in the same section. Author notes are only plain text, so any links or HTML will be rejected.
Once you have everything together, you can see a preview of your episode and see how many Tokens it takes to unlock it. You can also edit and update stories at any time!
Benefits of Kindle Vella
Amazon’s Kindle Vella has a host of perks. It’s great for authors just starting out or who are new to self-publishing their work. Impressive compensation and a growing audience also set it apart from the competition.
Writing is the easy part, sometimes. Publishing your work is another matter entirely. Fortunately, Kindle Vella is very user-friendly and a fantastic option for writers just beginning.
Stories are only 600-5000 words long, meaning many writers can knock out an episode in a few hours! The cover images and formatting requirements are simple, too, meaning writers don’t have to fret over design and editing quite so much. Of course, one of the best things about Kindle Vella is that it allows authors to publish at no cost.
With Vella’s 50% royalty model, authors stand to get a sizable cut of the profit from each reader. While there’s some slight variation depending on how much someone spends on their Tokens, that’s still impressive for a free publishing platform.
Reach New Readers
Serialized storytelling is rapidly growing in popularity. Today’s world is fast-paced and not everyone has time or energy to commit to a whole book, but reading in short bursts on Kindle Vella is fast and easy. Readers who might not look twice at a story published as a full book are willing to spend a handful of Tokens to give it a chance. Couple that with easy navigation and tags and you have a recipe for a whole new group of readers and a bigger audience!
Kindle Vella Bonus Program
The Kindle Vella bonus program merited a mention earlier, but it’s a big benefit to publishing on the platform. It’s a reward for stories that generate audience activity and engagement, and since it’s given out monthly, it’s a continuous incentive for authors to keep publishing new episodes.
Drawbacks of Kindle Vella
Nothing is perfect, and even a great program like Kindle Vella has some downsides. Right now, it has some unfortunate limits on who can read and publish on the platform, so it doesn’t reach nearly as many people as it could. There’s not much balance to speak of with genres, either, and a few tend to dominate the landscape. Some of these issues will likely be remedied in the future, assuming it stays successful, but for now, they’re good to keep in mind.
The Kindle Vella store is only available on iOS, Android, and desktop. Currently, even Kindle e-readers don’t have access. If you don’t have access to a compatible device, you won’t be able to access it for the time being.
Certain Genres Dominate
Currently, the Romance genre has a grip on over a quarter of the Kindle Vella library, with Fantasy and Paranormal trailing behind. With 15 genres available on the platform, that doesn’t leave much space for other categories. Authors who write in other genres might struggle to get noticed.
Available Only in the US
For now, Kindle Vella is only available in the United States. While it’s possible (even likely) that it will expand to other countries, that isn’t the case for now. That limits the audience and number of authors.
Content Guidelines & Limitations
Every publishing platform has certain guidelines for its authors. Kindle Vella is a very accessible platform and is great for new or seasoned writers. There are a few key things to keep in mind, though:
- Episodes must be between 600-5000 words in length.
- Kindle Vella follows many of the same guidelines as Kindle eBooks.
- Authors cannot publish offensive or misleading content, violate copyrights, or reproduce public domain content.
- Vella authors cannot republish previous works as episodes. For example, if a writer released a book in 2015, they can’t break that story into pieces and add it to the Kindle Vella store.
- Authors can turn their serial works into a book if it’s 10 episodes long, after the final episode has been available for 30 days or longer.
- Authors shouldn’t include sexually explicit language, repeat information found elsewhere, make boastful claims about their story (“Top-Faved”), or include any misrepresented or untrue statements in tags or author’s notes.
- Authors should always check for spelling and grammar errors.
Kindle Vella Alternatives
With serialized storytelling growing in popularity, a few other platforms offer similar services. Guidelines, compensation, and setups differ, but here’s a brief look at the main alternatives to Kindle Vella.
Radish is similar to Kindle Vella, though the application process is different. It’s more selective and less beginner friendly. Every writer gets paid, but their payment structure isn’t as transparent as Kindle Vella’s.
The major difference between Webnovel and Kindle Vella is the expectation placed on authors. Whereas Kindle Vella allows you to publish whenever your new chapter is ready and decide when it’s completed, Webnovel wants daily chapters and 100+ episode stories.
While Wattpad is a similar setup to Kindle Vella, it’s currently invite-only. Anyone can sign up to publish on Vella.
Medium has some social features and many categories to choose from. Instead of Tokens or a similar system, readers pay $5 per month for unlimited reads. Authors are paid based on how much time readers spend on their stories. Longer reading times mean higher pay.
Is Publishing on Kindle Vella Worth It?
While Kindle Vella does have certain limitations, overall it’s a fantastic platform for authors looking to break into serial publishing. It’s completely free and easy to use for beginners. Both of those things make a huge difference for new authors. Its options for feedback and audience interaction are excellent as well, especially since traditional publishing doesn’t offer anything similar. Compensation is fair and comes with the potential to earn a monthly bonus.
Is it right for you? To find out, ask yourself a couple of basic questions. Are you interested in writing in episodes and short chapters? If yes, you’ll be right at home. Do you write in one of the platform’s most popular genres, like Romance? If you do, there’s an audience waiting for you!
Overall, the platform itself is commendable and certain to grow beyond its current limitations. It’s absolutely worth checking out, and it’s so easy to get started that there’s no reason not to!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you still have questions? Here are some of the most common inquiries.
Is publishing on Kindle Vella free?
Yes! It’s free to publish your episodes and stories. Readers pay for Tokens to unlock them, but authors publish at no cost.
How long are Kindle Vella episodes?
Episodes on Kindle Vella range from 600 to 5000 words.
Is Kindle Vella only for fiction stories?
No, there is also a nonfiction category. Any story that can be serialized is welcome.
Do authors get paid for free episodes on Kindle Vella?
No, authors only receive payment for stories unlocked with Tokens. They don’t receive compensation for any episodes accessed for free.
What’s the difference between Kindle Vella and Amazon KDP?
Kindle Vella exclusively publishes serial stories on a per-episode basis. KDP is a platform for self-publishing eBooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers.