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Amazon Launches Kindle Vella for Authors

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.

Kindle Vella Pricing Preview

How will readers interact with stories?

Readers will be able to engage with and follow stories in a few different ways.

  1. Readers will be able to “follow” stories that they enjoy, and like a podcast, they will be notified when a new episode is released.
  2. Readers will be able to like or “thumbs up” episodes that they enjoy.
  3. 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?

Yes! When Amazon first announced Kindle Vella they said Vella content could not be published as a book, but now they have updated the terms. Vella content may be republished as a book

Kindle Vella content can be published as a book as long as the final episode has been available to readers in the Kindle Vella store for 30 days or more. Vella content published as a book must contain a minimum of 10 episodes. Individual episodes cannot be published outside of the Vella Store, and a single episode cannot be split between two different books.

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.

Industry impact

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?

 

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19 comments on “Amazon Launches Kindle Vella for Authors
  1. I am totally working on something for this. I expect Vella will not have much impact on the market, but I figure that the worst case scenario here is that Vella gets sunsetted after a failure to drive engagement, and I walk away with a serialized novela or two that I can package under a single cover and release to the wider market.

  2. Will Amazon one day charge for each word? Amazon needs to lose it monopoly on the book industry. The idea of weekly or monthly installments is Victorian, when only the rich could afford to buy newspapers and books.
    Has Apple also lost? Partnering with the giant?
    I have a blog which explains how each chapter was created, but the book is finished. Imagine if each week the readers could comment… influence the story… Individual thought would be lost.
    It’s horrific the idea. Sheep creativity. Big Brother in a brand new form.
    Of course this is just the negative side of things. The positive sides are….
    Please do tell me, without talking money.

      1. Edward, I don’t think that is true at all. Serialization was created in Victorian England, and authors like Charles Dickens used writer sales, feedback to shape his novels. As a writer myself, I am not losing individual thought if readers give advice, I am shaping my thought to get a message across that they can understand. This is no different than listening to an editor, agent, or publisher, except that the writer has more freedom. I am publishing on Vella and such will likely do little to help writers, but I am always willing to try. Also, in South Korea, this idea has been used for years, and this move by Amazon may be one that will take on Wadd Pad, which was just bought out by a South Korean company, so this form of writing has been around for a long time. The U.S. is just very behind with technology or creative ideas.

    1. Basically, it’s like what Wattpad is doing. But the difference is, Amazon is opening it up to all authors on KDP. Wattpad only choses certain “Star Authors”. I’ve had a novel on Wattpad for 5 years, and basically have rewritten and reworked it, and pretty much get nothing for my effort. I like the option that at least with a novel serialized on Vella, you get some royalties. Right now, just feel like I’m being used for content on other platforms. At least Amazon is giving authors a chance to make money off their writing from the beginning. The good writing will and enjoyed writing will surface to the top. It really reminds me of KU when it started out.

  3. I’m not sure about writing for this new venture at Amazon. I agree with others that the big giant needs to not dominate book publishing, but markets for mid-list authors has shrunk so dramatically that we are caught between a rock and a hard place.

  4. I’m giving it a shot with some things that I’ve been working on. I do have some concerns. First, the whole token thing is a bit confusing. Once you figure it out it’s okay, but I wonder how long it will take readers to get sick of constantly buying tokens. My guess is they will try to remedy the problem later by turning it into a subscription service and then authors will probably make even less. And 50% royalties??? Come on, Amazon, we can make more than that on eBooks and you don’t have all the overhead of distributed rights, etc. with Vella. The site is simplistic (I know it’s beta) and we providing all the content. In some cases, it can cost an author up to $400 for image rights. At .13 cent an episode, I am going to have to sell thousands just to cover that cost. It will be interesting to see how this pans out, but I am concerned about reader buy-in.

  5. It sounds like a good way to preview a coming book publication. Sell the first 5,000 words and those readers who are interested might buy the whole book. Like an advertising campaign. Writing a novel is a heck of a lot of work. I couldn’t see myself selling the whole book for a relatively small return.

  6. I’m excited about the publication and exposure possibilities with this new Vella publishing platform. Yes it is a novelty and there are risks involved for me as an author, but isn’t this the case with all new enterprises? As they say, nothing ventured nothing gained. I’m in.

  7. I think this is great. I don’t want to “sell” a publisher on my ideas. I want the reader to access it and if they like it they buy future episodes and if they don’t, then I know my story sucks. As far as the “big company” that’s middle man BS. Me and the distributer and no one in the middle, excellent. If you need money, the last thing you need for a partner is another entity that needs money. Amazon doesn’t need money, so they will be more trustworthy than a smaller middleman. Middlemen going out of business is a good thing in every industry.

  8. I like the concept, I’ve been messing around with this format/idea for years and I am quite excited to see what powerful platform like Amazon can do with it. Here’s to a great success!

  9. It’s like the wildly popular Radish app for romance readers, an app I’ve made quite a bit of money on. The paying for chapter by chapter structure works.

  10. I’ve always received good reviews for my books but have never made real money. Most of my books are historical novels, not a very popular genre, so I’m looking to have a crack at a different type of reader with hopes of having them take on some of my previous books.

    Sounds like a low risk effort with the potential for relatively high reward.

    I’m all in.

  11. I have 18 episodes of PATSY OF HARLAN COUNTY up and ready to go. It’s an Appalachian Romance of the mid-twentieth century to modern times. I certainly find it exciting to be sticking my toe into new bathwater. If I find it’s too cold, I’ll just pull my toe out. Simple.

  12. Facebook plans to launch something similar. In one of my author groups, which has thousands of authors in it, hardly anyone plans to use Facebook. FB silenced a lot of authors, including myself, and made us pay for our posts to be seen by people who like and follow us. I’d rather stick with Amazon, where I’m making money than go with FB who seems to ban anyone that doesn’t agree with them.

  13. I have published a couple of episodes, and absolutely cannot find them in the Vella store. There’s no way to search for my name, or the story title. It appears to be front-loaded with “schlock” of no interest to an average person, or at least, not a thing that interests me.

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