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Kindle Vella Unveiled: 5 Things Every Author Should Know

Maximizing Your Income

There are a lot of ways self-publishers are making money through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. But one of the newest ways is Kindle Vella. Kindle Vella is a really cool gamified way for readers to connect with fiction authors they love.

Kindle Vella Unveiled: 5 Things Every Author Should Know
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Are you sick of your 9-to-5 job? Ready to try something new?

There are a lot of ways self-publishers are making money through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. But one of the newest ways is Kindle Vella. Kindle Vella is a really cool gamified way for readers to connect with fiction authors they love.

We’re going to dig into all things Kindle Vella so you can see if it is a good fit for your self-published book.

What Is Amazon’s KDP?

First, before looking at Kindle Vella, let’s understand how the overall ecosystem of Amazon’s KDP works.

It’s no mystery that the ecommerce giant Amazon got its start by selling books online. So bookselling and publishing are in Amazon’s blood. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is obviously very passionate about books and publishing so it shouldn’t be surprising that Amazon has invested heavily in tools that help authors publish their work.

In November 2007, Amazon launched KDP, the same day they unveiled its first Kindle eReader. KDP suddenly gave independent authors a fast and easy way to publish their work and make money. Amazon gives up to 70% of each sale to authors—way more than what writers would make from a traditional publishing deal.

Fast forward to today. Amazon’s KDP is the world’s largest self-publishing platform, with millions of authors around the world tapping into the power of KDP. Some estimate that KDP controls a whopping 80% of the eBook market. And with around one-third of Americans reading eBooks, we’re talking about an audience of over 100 million people just in the United States.

Here are just some of the benefits of KDP:

  • Authors can publish as many eBooks as they want all for free, creating multiple passive income streams.
  • If you have your files ready, publishing is fast. It takes just five minutes and your book will be available on the Kindle Store in less than 72 hours.
  • You can reach a massive global audience of potential readers.
  • You get to keep up to 70% royalties on every eBook sale.
  • You have full control over your work to make any changes you want, whenever you want.
  • You’ll have access to free marketing and promotional tools from Amazon. 

And in 2023, KDP now gives authors even more ways to make money through programs like Kindle Select (or Kindle Unlimited). This pays authors based on page reads. But the new-kid-on-the-block is Kindle Vella, which gives authors another income stream to build up their online publishing empire.

Let’s check it out!

What Is Kindle Vella

What Is Kindle Vella?

Kindle Vella is a platform for self-publishers  to release their books one episode at a time. It’s a way to serialize a book into small chunks for readers to make it easier to digest.

Here’s how Vella works.

Since your book is probably already broken up into relatively short chapters, each chapter becomes an episode. Readers can access the first few episodes of your book for free to see if they like it. If they do, they can buy tokens to unlock more chapters and keep reading. Publishers get 50% of the money from the tokens.

Here’s how Amazon describes Vella:

“Kindle Vella brings you stories released one short episode at a time, available on the web at www.amazon.com/kindle-vella and in the Kindle app. … Follow the stories you like to keep up with the latest from your favorite characters. When you like an episode, give it a Thumbs Up to let the author and other readers know you liked it.

“The first few episodes of every story are always free—after that, purchase Tokens and redeem them to unlock episodes…. When you unlock episodes, you will receive one Fave a week that you can award to the story you’re enjoying most that week. We'll feature Top Faved stories so other readers can find them too.”

Now that we’ve seen an overview of how Kindle Vella works, let’s learn the top 5 things you need to know about it.

  1. It’s free!
    Just like publishing on KDP, Kindle Vella is free for publishers. Amazon doesn’t charge writers anything to post their chapters as episodes on Vella. And this makes sense because Amazon needs publishers to post their content for users to have something to read just as much as publishers need Amazon’s KDP platform. It’s a win-win!
  2. It’s easy!
    Publishing your eBook on Kindle Vella is super easy! All you have to do is put in the episode details like the title of your book and the episode title and you’re all set. You can pick certain genres and tags, too, so readers can more easily find your work. You can also upload an image for your book’s cover to attract more readers. And don’t stress if you don’t have a graphic designer creating something super professional. You can use free stock images on websites like Pexels and Pixabay to find an image that fits your genre or topic.

    Another great thing about Vella is that, if you already have an eBook written or published, you really don’t have to do any extra work to put it on Vella. Just split each chapter into a standalone episode and you’ll instantly have another way to make more money.
  3. It’s fast!
    Once you publish your first episode on Vella, it will be live and available to millions of Kindle readers within just three days. Most of the time it only takes around 24 hours! This is practically instant and means you can start building momentum around your work right away. Announce it on your social media channels, tell your friends and family and start spreading the word so people know they can read your work.
  4. It’s fun!
    We’re not going to promise you that publishing with Kindle Vella is going to be a blast. But it can be. The gamified way that Vella is set up can certainly make it more fun than simply publishing the entire book all at once. Readers get to follow the story as each new episode is released, and can even offer story or character suggestions for authors who are still writing the book.

    You can pick chapter titles that are catchy and engaging and also see where readers are dropping off. Where are readers starting to get bored of the story or the writing? You’ll be able to pinpoint these areas and tweak your episodes to make them more engaging and enticing for readers to keep going (and paying!).
  5. You can make real money
    Readers might have to buy pretend digital “tokens” to unlock future chapters, but there’s nothing fake about the money Amazon pays you from these token purchases. Publishers are making real money every month from Kindle Vella.

    How much are people making? It depends on the popularity of the book and a bunch of other factors. But many publishers are making at least a few hundred dollars a month from Vella.

    Amazon also pays out bonuses based on customer activity and engagement. So on top of token Kindle Vella royalties, you’ll sometimes get an extra bonus thrown in just for good measure. Amazon gives publishers an easy way to track royalty earnings, story likes and episodes read in the Kindle Vella Dashboard in KDP Reports.
The Ancient Tradition of Serializing Books

The Ancient Tradition of Serializing Books

In many ways, Kindle Vella is a modern-day throwback to the way books used to be published. Most people today don’t realize that many famous books were not actually released all at once. They were first serialized in magazines and then only later compiled into full-length books. So Vella has roots in the way publishing used to be, in the “olden days.”

Here are a few classic books by famous authors that were originally serialized.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas was originally published in 18 parts from August 1844 until January 1846. Dumas

Ever heard of Crime and Punishment? Yeah, we thought so… Author Fyodor Dostoevsky published this epic novel in 1866 in 12 monthly sections in the literary journal The Russian Messenger. Dostoevsky also published many of his other novels in the serialized format.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy was published in serialized form from 1865 to 1866. Tolstoy’s famous book Anna Karenina was also serialized.

The science fiction classic The Time Machine by H.G. Wells was broken up into multiple sections from January 1895 until May 1895 in the magazine The New Review. Same with his book The War of the Worlds.

The cult classic Dune by Frank Herbert was also split into two sections when it first came out in 1965.

Sherlock Holmes’ most famous book, The Hound of the Baskervilles, was serialized in The Strand Magazine in 1901 and 1902.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel that brought so much awareness to slavery in the U.S., Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was also serialized.

And if you’re wondering what started this whole serializing trend, look no further than Charles Dickens. Dickens was the first to start serializing his work starting in 1836 and the trend obviously took off. His book A Tale of Two Cities was initially published in 31 installments in 1859.

Serializing your book puts you in pretty good company! And Kindle Vella uses modern technology to do this without having to send your work to literary magazines hoping they publish you.

Give It a Try!

It’s never been easier to share your work and make money off of it. Kindle Vella is a fantastic way for authors to create a new passive income stream that pays them while they’re sleeping.

If you haven’t tried Vella, what are you waiting for? Pretty much everything in life is worth trying at least once (unless it’s garlic ice cream).

Maybe you’ve already been using KDP like a self-publishing champ and are looking to create another revenue stream from your work. Or you’re just dipping your toe into the self-publishing world and are researching what your options are.

Whichever camp you’re in, don’t put this off. Go out and give Vella a try and see what happens.

And if you’re looking for more resources on how to get started with your self-publishing career, check out our free webinar that walks you through everything you need to know.

Now, all this talk of serializing books has made us hungry for cereal. We’re going to grab a snack!

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