In April 2021, Amazon announced it was launching a new mobile reading format called Kindle Vella. This new format will be available on Amazon.com and in the Kindle iOS App. The format allows U.S. based authors to release serialized stories by publishing “episodes” one at a time.
The new publishing option is not yet available to readers, though Amazon says it will be released sometime in Spring 2021.
At this time there is a lot of uncertainty around how Amazon’s new publishing option. The royalty system is somewhat vague, and there’s no guarantee that enough readers will use the format to generate significant revenue for authors. We have rounded up everything we know below, and we’ll continue to update his post as new information becomes available.
Kindle Vella: For Readers
What is Kindle Vella?
Kindle Vella is a new mobile-first reading platform from Amazon that is based around a serialized, episodic format. It allows readers to read serialized stories one chapter at a time. Authors will publish episodes between 600 and 5,000 words, and readers can redeem tokens to access the episodes.
Readers will be able to read the first three episodes of a story without redeeming tokens. Then, if they want to continue, they will have to pay for, and redeem tokens.
How many tokens will it take to access an episode?
Episodes will vary in cost by how many words they are. One token will account for 100 words, so a reader would need 10 tokens to unlock a 1,000 word episode.
How much will tokens cost?
Amazon hasn’t finalized token pricing, but a preview image on their website shows an example of 200 tokens for $1.99. Buying larger batches of tokens appears to be cheaper in the example pricing structure.
How will readers interact with stories?
Readers will be able to engage with and follow stories in a few different ways.
- Readers will be able to “follow” stories that they enjoy, and like a podcast, they will be notified when a new episode is released.
- Readers will be able to like or “thumbs up” episodes that they enjoy.
- Readers will have one “Fave” per week, which they can give to the story they enjoyed the most in a given week.
Authors will also be able to leave “author’s notes” at the end of episodes to give more context, information, or when the reader can expect the next episode.
Kindle Vella: For Authors
Here are the broad takeaways for authors.
How does Kindle Vella work for authors?
Kindle Vella is a new platform by Amazon that allow authors to publish and monetize serialized fiction. Authors will publish Kindle Vella content through the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform.
Is Kindle Vella available to all authors?
Kindle Vella is only available for U.S. based authors. So if you’re outside the U.S. you won’t be able to create Kindle Vella stories at this time,
How will authors publish Kindle Vella episodes?
Authors will be able to publish episodes immediately or select a specific release date by using their KDP Dashboard to access the Kindle Vella library. Of course there will likely be release strategies developed to maximize reader engagement, but it’s a little early to speculate on best practices.
Can authors publish Kindle Vella content as a book?
No. Kindle Vella has strict terms around what content can be published as a story. Amazon says the goal is to prevent readers from paying for content that they have already read in a different format, so authors will have to create new content in order to create a story on Kindle Vella.
When will Kindle Vella stories be available to readers?
Amazon has not released an official date for when Kindle Vella will be available for readers, but we currently expect it will launch before the end of July 2021.
How much will authors earn from Kindle Vella?
Authors will earn 50% of what readers spend on the tokens that are used to unlock an episode. So, if a reader spent $9.99 on 1,100 tokens, and bought a 3,000 word episode for 30 tokens, the author would receive $0.1362.
However, keep in mind that pricing is not finalized. Token prices can change, and Amazon includes a caveat that they plan to sell tokens through “mobile channels that charge a fee” and that the fee will be deducted from the shared revenue.
We assume they are referencing Apple as Amazon will surely sell tokens through the Kindle iOS app, and Apple will take a cut of the revenue generated from the iOS app.
So, at this time it is extremely difficult to determine how much authors can expect to make per episode. And if Kindle Vella will even gain enough traction with readers to provide meaningful payouts to creators.
Kindle Vella is being marketed to authors and is accessed through the KDP Dashboard, but it is a major departure from the traditional eBook format. Kindle Vella stories will need to be designed to hook a reader’s attention in a way that not all books are.
This format could result in more reader engagement, and could bring in a whole new audience for authors. But, as we have mentioned, there are still many unknowns. What author payouts will look like is a big question, as is reader interest. Will authors across genres see the same levels of engagement in Kindle Vella? Or, like other serialization platforms, will Romance be the dominant genre?
What do you think? Will you be publishing on Kindle Vella, or will you hold out for more information?