If you’ve been following my content for a while, you’d know that I’ve been entrenched in my story, Grim Tide, on Vella for quite some time. I’ve been publishing on weekly Vella since September 2021, in fact! I’ve been asked by more than a few people how I’ve been enjoying my experience, and I figured it would be best to compile my experience in a blog post.
For starters, what is Vella?
Kindle Vella is a serialized fiction platform, hosted by Amazon Kindle. The readers can read the first three “episodes” of every story for free. After, they have to pay with tokens that can be purchased at various prices.
200 for $1.99
525 for $4.99
1100 for $9.99
1700 for $14.99
The cost of the episode is predicated by word count that can be, more or less, boiled down to a token for every hundred words. A 700-word episode will be 7 tokens. A 2,100-word episode will be 21 tokens, and so on and so forth.
As of the time of writing this, Kindle Vella is limited to the United States. There have been talks of expanding internationally, but it is unclear when the platform will be rolling out elsewhere.
How do royalties and bonuses work?
Royalties and bonuses operate independently of one another. Royalties are earned based on how many users unlock your chapters (or “episodes”) using their tokens. The math can be broken down like this:
(Number of Tokens to unlock episode) * (Tokens bundle price/# Tokens in bundle - taxes and fees) * (50% rev share) = Earnings per episode
Example: Episode purchased with 1,100 Tokens bundle: 30 Tokens * ($9.99/1100 Tokens – 0) * 50% = $0.1362
(from the Amazon KDP help page)
Royalties, however, are decided based on engagement. In short, every like, every favorite, and every subscriber contributes to how much you earn.
It is a bit confusing, and, really, more than a bit arbitrary. But, let’s move on!
How often are you paid?
As is the case with KDP in general, you’re paid once a month. However, it takes two months to get paid out. This means that if you publish in February, you’ll receive your first KDP payment in April. You’re paid at the end of the month.
Your bonuses, once upon a time, were announced around the second week of the month. Of late, those announcements have been coming later. Give or take around the third week or so.
Why I started Vella.
As a self-published author, a lot of what we do is simply throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. I already had Grim Tide written, and had every intention of releasing it on my blog episodically. However, at the time, I had a minimal following and didn’t think that publishing Grim Tide that way would garner a larger readership. Vella offered a platform for me to post my work, with the promise of compensation. Curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to take the plunge! (It also didn’t hurt that I knew this would likely be excellent blog content for later).
My experience so far.
To be quite blunt, it’s been… so-so. There have been more bumps in the road than I feel there should be.
For starters, the barrier to entry for readers is more than a bit of a hassle. I have been publishing on Kindle Vella (and consuming content on it) for a little under half a year now, and I still don’t know how to reach Vella on desktop without Googling. I had read in the early stages of my time with Vella that readers would be able to find their episodes on their e-reading devices and was woefully unimpressed to find that only newer models supported this function. It wasn’t until I was gifted an iPad by my partner that I was able to see this firsthand.
A few of my real-life friends have been following Grim Tide and have voiced similar complaints. Some have voiced difficulty finding the option to purchase tokens, others have complained about not getting notifications. It seems like a poorly designed interface for something Amazon is pumping a lot of money into.
As someone who is fairly familiar with the KDP back-end (and someone whose real-life job involves building websites), I was rather… well, perturbed, I suppose, to see that Vella wasn’t even afforded its own tab in the menu. Instead, we got a grotesque little line that said, “Introducing Kindle Vella.” It felt hastily added.
Now, I’m relieved to say, KDP has released a better dashboard that encompasses everything. Though, it is still in beta. We will see what the future holds for this more streamlined dash.
I know, I know. That’s not really why you’re here. You want to know if it’s helped me expand my readership.
To be honest? I don’t think so. I think the bulk of people who continue to read my work are already invested in my writing. I don’t know that Vella has introduced me to any new readers I haven’t attracted with my own advertising (Facebook groups seem to be where it’s at, and if you aren’t utilizing Facebook, you’re sleeping on a good thing). Unless you found me via Vella. If you’re here, pop in the comments and let me know! I’d love to be proven wrong!
But more than that, I’m sure you’re interested in hearing about how I’ve financially benefitted from it. I’ll start by saying that from September through December, I was consistently earning 3 – 4 likes on every episode. My story was being favorited every week. I had no reviews, and I had about 20 story followers. So, I would say that it was a rather average/abysmal turn-out on the numbers front.
Am I making bank? No. But, it’s a nice little add-on at the end of the month. I’m curious to see how it goes from here, given that January and February were far better engagement-wise. So, in short, stay tuned! There will be another follow-up in the future, I’m sure!
Would Vella be right for you?
If you’re someone who already has a story written or someone who can write short cliff-hanger chapters, it might be worth it to consider. If you’re someone who already has a dedicated following who would be willing to move across platforms with you? Even better.
If you’re someone who writes romance? It might even be ideal.
However, if you’re someone who has a limited/small following who does not have any interest in consuming Vella content — or someone whose following is primarily out of the US, it might be worth it to look into other options. Like Patreon for example! Or WattPad if you’re not overly concerned about compensation.
There are innumerable factors that come into play when making the decision to publish on Vella. Only you will know if it’s going to be the right call for you. For me? I think it’s the right call. For now. I don’t intend to stop publishing Grim Tide on this platform. Even though it isn’t a cash cow, and it’s not earning me a sizable readership, I’m having fun!
Other Things Worth Noting
– There are exclusivity clauses to contend with. Like with Kindle Unlimited, you cannot post your chapters (for free) anywhere other than the Kindle Vella platform. To do so will violate the TOS. The good news is that you can put it behind a paywall.
– You cannot release your Vella story as a full novel until a month after it is completed (this is to allow everyone to “catch up”). Your Vella story also has to be on Vella for a year first.
So there it is!
My experience with Vella! Like with most things, I’m sure I’ll have a follow-up in a few months. Who knows! I might feel incredibly different by that time. The platform might even change entirely by then! So, in other words, stick around and see!
If you’re a fellow Vella author, I’d love to know if there’s anything you’d like to add to the list!
And! If you’re a reader, I’d love to know what you think about Vella! If you aren’t reading on Vella, I’d love to know why!
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