Amazon is releasing a new format for digital publishing called Kindle Vella.

It’s a lot like in some ways (or any other one chapter/episode at a time publishing model on the web) in that its focus is on serial fiction.

Since I heard about it, I’ve been considering using it to drive growth toward the site and newsletter. Maybe just focus on newsletter growth?

I had planned to release on Amazon anyway as a way to get growth. My previous plan was to release sister projects related to the projects here. For example, Casebook Supernatural could have a spin-off series released on Kindle Vella.

Previously it seemed like a pain to publish on Amazon KDP. Because I’d need to publish a bunch of chapters at once.

The split is 50/50 with Amazon. It really should be 70/30 at least in favor of authors. Amazon is just being greedy.

On Kindle Vella the first “episodes” are free. Then each additional episode costs credits depending on the word count rounded down. 100 words = 1 credit. A 699 word count chapter would be 6 credits.

600 words is the minimum for an episode on Kindle Vella. 5,000 is the maximum. So max per chapter would be like 50 credits?

Kindle Vella calls their credits “tokens”. Right now 100 tokens = $1 USD, but Amazon has said this pricing could change. Amazon is also selling more tokens at a higher price for bonus tokens, following the F2P game premium currency model. Their highest price is $15 for 1,700 tokens right now and that would be enough to unlock 34 max priced episodes.

600 = 6 tokens
699 = 6 tokens
725 = 7 tokens
821 = 8 tokens

Token costs round down. That’s in favor of the reader and encourages writers to make sure word count is near the next 100. Though some generous writers may keep their word counts lower, or stylistically keep their chapter lengths a consistent token cost with some occasional mega chapters.

Buying episodes is micro-transactions. On one hand it’s convenient and lowers overhead. On the other, it’s the same way F2P games obscure the actual cost of what they are buying with premium currency since 100 tokens does not equal $1 when buying in bulk.

Most likely I’ll continue to target short chapters of ~600-1,000 words. But it may be more reasonable to target a word count of ~2,000 for financial reasons. $0.20 is better than $0.06 while also not being so high it could scare people off. But who knows for sure, people will need to experiment to see what length is good. My gut tells me 2k would be close to optimal.

And don’t forget authors only get 50% of tokens so that’s actually ~$0.10 for ~2k word chapters for authors, or ~$0.03 for about minimum length chapters. Actually it seems like tokens are even more complicated. So if a user buys a bigger bundle of tokens to save some money, those tokens actually are worth less to the authors. A bundle of tokens purchased at $2 has tokens which are individually worth more than tokens purchased for $15?

There are probably extra hidden gotchas which lower the amount authors taken home too. But on the other hand Vella supposedly would pay authors 4x as much per word compared to Kindle Unlimited. KU and Vella are both still cheaper for readers than buying e-books normally / buying traditional books for sure. And Vella allows readers to pay only as much as they want a series. If you betray your readers, they can drop you off fast!

When you upload a chapter to the Kindle Vella site, you can include an author’s note. I’ve not fully tested that space but it seems like they allow links there, which is good. They can do at least that much. I would treat it like a YouTube description. Then to really optimize it you would want to include links to buying merch!

They have some rules for publishing.

It has to be new, not old. As in not published elsewhere like normal KDP in the past - you can’t just chop a story up and put it on Vella.

It can’t be explicitly sexual or violent.

You can publish it elsewhere, while you are publishing on Vella, but it can’t be free. Which means we can’t cross post content published here. That wasn’t the plan, anyway!

You can easily queue up multiple episodes to be published over time. You’ll probably want at least one episode published a week at a consistent day of the week. Two times a week would be good too. If you really want to be godly, you would publish a new episode every day!

You can’t buy ads to promote Vella stories. It’s supposed to be more organic I guess? That won’t stop people from sending their audience to reach Vella stuff, which is probably their plan. Once a day people can nominate their favorite chapter, and that uplifts that story in the promotion rankings apparently when enough people nominate a chapter.

Amazon will probably story hunt for potential TV shows. Don’t be surprised when many in the top 100 become Amazon Originals. Of course, with Amazon’s bent, it would pay to be woke. But even if you don’t woke your own work, their directors would probably do it anyway and if you agreed to a deal, you’d have no control in preventing that either. Better make your own TV shows!

Amazon will probably give out tokens for free and who knows if those tokens will actually be worth anything to authors. At least with Amazon Prime for Twitch memberships streamers are actually paid for those like normal subs I think? Amazon also takes 50% there from everything too I think.

If you want to take something from Vella and publish it elsewhere as a normal book or whatever that is allowed but you have to unpublish the Vella version. Some readers may be super upset that a Vella version is unpublished. I wonder if Amazon will allow people to finish buying episodes of a story they already started when it was unpublished for that reason or would it be a hard cut off?

Nothing is stopping authors from publishing 3 free chapters and leaving it at that with no paid chapters. Then use that to promote a paid novel for example.

There is no limit on the number of chapters allowed. You can go on forever! And that’s obviously the point. You want readers addicted to your story and reading for as long as possible to keep the cash flow going. You’re incentivized for writing amazing chapters which make tons of people nominate it to get the precious promotion.

Eventually your story could cost $100+ to fully read on Vella! And obviously that would motivate the pirate sites to rip it off if it’s popular since they would happily steal ad revenue from your work to give it away for free.

It will take probably 3+ months to be paid for episodes people pay for.

Will participating in Kindle Vella be worth it? Probably not financially. The amount of traffic to our site from it will probably be on the low end too. But we’ll still try to publish some works there before it goes live.

Will Kindle Vella work? Well, it’s Amazons attempt to poach and potentially cannibalize an existing market. Or at least stem the blood away from their platform as currently they didn’t have anything like this. And even for us it seemed annoying to publish chapters as books over time instead of now being able to publish chapters one at a time.

I’ll make future articles and cross link them when there’s more to say about Kindle Vella.

These are the current Vella Terms and Conditions:

Terms and Conditions for Kindle Vella If you reside in the US, you may make your work available to Amazon customers in installments, each such installment, an “Episode” and a set of multiple Episodes, a “Story.” 1. Content. Kindle Vella is a serial reading experience. To protect readers from purchasing Kindle Vella content they have already read in a different format, you cannot: a. Incorporate your Kindle Vella content into other long-form content (e.g., a book) in any language. If you wish to incorporate an Episode or Story into other long-form content, you must unpublish all Episodes of that Story from Kindle Vella. b. Publish in Kindle Vella content that is in the public domain or freely available on the web. c. Break down your previously published book or long-form content into Episodes and republish in Kindle Vella, even if that book or long-form content is no longer available or is written in another language. If your Episode or Story is derived from another work you have authored (e.g., it continues the story from a book), you may include up to 5,000 words from the other work in the first Episode to bridge the story, provided you control the rights to do so. 2. Tokens. In order to unlock your Episodes, Amazon customers will redeem Tokens purchased from Amazon. Amazon has sole and complete discretion to set the retail customer price at which Tokens are sold, and a purchase of Tokens is non-refundable except where required by law. We are solely responsible for processing payments, payment collection and related customer service with respect to Tokens. 3. Episode Word Count and Token Pricing. Each Episode must consist of a minimum of 600 words and a maximum of 5,000 words. The number of Tokens required to unlock each Episode will be set by Amazon, in its sole and complete discretion. 4. Royalties. If you are not in breach of your obligations under this Agreement, for each Token a customer redeems for your Episode, we will pay you the following Royalty: 50% of the amount the customer paid for that Token, net of refunds, bad debt, and any fees, VAT, sales or other taxes charged to a customer or applied with respect to sales or redemption of Tokens. You will not receive any Royalty for Episodes you or we make available for free. We will pay Royalties due approximately 60 days following the end of the calendar month during which your Episodes were unlocked. We will make available to you an online report detailing unlocked Episodes and corresponding Royalties. 5. Inapplicable Terms. Except to the extent modified above, all terms in this Agreement remain in full force as if references to “Digital Books” or “Books” were references to “Episodes” and Kindle Vella was expressly included in the definition of “Program.” However, the following sections do not apply to Kindle Vella: 5.2.3 Lending Kindle Books, 5.3.1 Providing Your List Price, 5.3.2 Currency Conversion, 5.3.3 Multiple List Prices, 5.4.1 Royalties, 5.4.2. When We Pay You, 5.4.3 Payment Currencies, 5.4.4 Payment Terms for Brazilian Publishers, Terms and Conditions for KDP Select Program, Terms and Conditions for KDP Pre-Orders, the Digital Pricing Page and the Print Pricing Page.