Hi gang. Craig with you today and there’s something new on the self publishing horizon. It’s officially called Kindle Vella. I’m kind of interested in it, and would like to get some debate going on the subject.
The first thing we have to do is cover what it is. Vella is a new publishing platform for serialized work. This means you publish what amounts to a chapter at a time. The time period is variable and up to the author.
It’s important to note that the author gets paid under this plan. It borrows from online gaming in that readers have to buy tokens, then use that special currency to read whatever they are interested in. If someone spends tokens on your work, you get half. (Obviously, Amazon gets the cash from token purchases, then shares depending on where you spend them. They get the cash if you never spend them.) The token spend is based upon word count of the section.
New submissions have to be between 600 and 5000 words. I might even squeeze two chapters at a time out of the submission.
Readers can access the first three sections of a project for free. There is no news about whether Amazon is providing a stipend to the author, but I doubt they will.
The platform is available on Amazon.com and the iOS Kindle app. It’s also going to debut only in the United States. They hint at broader circulation later.
I did some rough and dirty math and it comes to about $2.99 per twenty chapters for the author. I did not account for the free sections, so it could be a bit less. Consider that if you self publish a novel at $2.99, Amazon keeps 30% of that and it looks pretty good.
The Vella project allows for an author section at the end of each submission. I can only see this as a good thing, because direct contact with readers is important. You can write whatever you want here, from “tune in next week,” to “I’m holding a free day on XXX for my novel something or other.” You can update these sections, so after the free day, you can change your remarks.
The project also comes with a minor social media aspect in that readers can follow stories they like, meaning they get notified whenever a new section goes up. Readers can give a thumbs up to those stories they like, and have access to a weekly crown they can award their favorite section of the week. These will be seen by other shoppers.
A few other points to consider here. Amazon says we can unpublish, then self publish at a later date. I like this aspect. They crop the only graphic into a circular shape, so we might need a Vella graphic, then something later on for an actual cover. This could be costly.
I grew up in an era of magazines that serialized their stories. Most of these were my father’s outdoorsman mags, but I liked it. Made me look forward to the next part of the tale. I also subscribed to comic books, and those stories never actually end. This is old school, and modern sensibilities might not go for it. Years ago, my brother subscribed to Wizard magazine, and the first thing we both did was go to the back and check out the adventures of Phil & Dixie. This was a comic that carried across each month.
Let’s pick at what we know so far. First the, seemingly, good things.
• More frequent publication. This is a good thing for an author.
• The ability to add a paragraph at the end of each section allows us to sell ourselves. This is more important than you think. We could mention our other works here, but links aren’t allowed.
• The author gets paid.
• More people could be willing to give a thumbs up than take time to write a review.
• Notification to readers of new sections. It would be lovely if readers of my ongoing series could get notification of when the new books drop.
• Appeal to the bus-stop crowd. A submission could be read during a coffee break.
There are some points of concern, too.
• The possible need for more art, unless you get a cover that can be cropped into a circular shape.
• More people could be willing to give a thumbs down who would never take the time to write a review.
• Delays. If you set a timetable of one submission every two weeks, I think followers are going to expect you to meet it. Might want to wait until you clear the muddy middle before you start posting the story.
• Lack of interest from people who read a lot of books. They like to dedicate time to immerse themselves in a tale.
• The need for cliffhangers, particularly at the end of chapter three, and the risk of overdoing them or doing them poorly.
I like the fact that Amazon is trying something new. I also know the early adopters usually make the most money from a project. I’m not completely sold, just yet. Part of my problem involves 2021 being a year of series for me. I’m working hard to conclude a classic trilogy, and book three in this format just doesn’t work. My ongoing series won’t work here either, since I’m on book four. I would need something completely new. I could do it, but not mid summer when they expect Vella to launch. They’re allowing uploads right now.
I was sorely tempted to include a poll, but those are pretty meaningless without thousands of participants. Story Empire has the followers, but only so many of you interact. That’s what this post needs.
The rest of the post is up to you. Let’s talk about Vella in the comments. Are you interested in something like this? Would you publish this way? Would you read this way? I’d appreciate some commentary beyond a quick answer. Are tokens just too gimmicky and you know you’ll be stuck with a few extras? Are you the kind who’d like to see where the thumbs up taper off, or readership drops in an attempt to improve those sections prior to actual publication? Let’s all talk about it.