Are Kindle Vella Royalties Worth It? Evaluating The Earnings Potential

Trying to figure out the ins and outs of self-publishing isn't getting any easier, with dozens of different distributors, aggregators, and publishing platforms cropping up every year. In fact, you might not have even known Kindle Vella existed until you stumbled on this blog post. Let’s talk about it!

Are Kindle Vella Royalties Worth It? Evaluating The Earnings Potential
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Kindle Vella is another one of Amazon's many offerings and focuses on "bite-sized reading." Instead of putting out 30k words all at once in a traditional chapter book, authors and publishers make money through much shorter episodic content. Readers pay to access the content with tokens, and the revenue generated from these tokens becomes cold hard cash, just like royalties earned from regular paperback, hardcovers, and eBooks.

Publishing on Kindle Vella isn't necessarily something we focus on in our A-Z self-publishing course, but we'll explain why below so you can make an informed decision about growing your own publishing business. 

Access the fast-track to publishing success blueprint! Our no-cost webinar lays out the entire process of making money online with just a free Amazon account (no experience or degree required). Join thousands of other freedom-seekers!  Sign up today.

How Does Kindle Vella Work?

Here's the scoop on Kindle Vella stories and how Kindle Vella works with a quick history lesson.

History and Purpose of Kindle Vella

Some people roll their eyes when they hear "the digital age," but the truth is, we are all consuming so much more content than we used to as a species. Everywhere you look, there's a new app, an email, a billboard, or an ad. 

Kindle Vella is based on the idea that some readers would prefer to read a short episode text, kind of like how Netflix and Hulu share weekly episodes of their biggest shows.

Episodic Nature of Kindle Vella Stories

Episodes on Kindle Vella are anywhere from 600 to 5,000 words long and must be new unpublished material. Amazon launched the publishing platform in 2021 to compete with other platforms that popularized episode content (more on that later).

The Kindle Vella Publishing Process

Publishing a new Kindle Vella story is pretty similar to publishing any book on Amazon's KDP because they've built the self-publishing platform in a way that automatically links your Kindle Vella library with the Kindle Vella store.

We've got the play-by-play for how to publish on Kindle Vella story here!

Is Kindle Vella Worth It? The Financial Aspects of Kindle Vella

This section will reveal why we don't suggest serialized storytelling for first-time publishers or self-publishers who are trying to ramp up their business, but it's not a knock on the platform itself. If you want to give it a go, you're free to do just that!

The Token System: How Readers Access and Pay for Episodes

Kindle Vella operates on a token system where readers purchase tokens to unlock episodes of your story. The number of tokens required depends on the episode’s word count—an episode's purchase price correlates with its length. Readers can receive free tokens as an incentive, which they can then spend on your episodes. 

How Kindle Vella Royalties Work

Your compensation on Kindle Vella is a royalty based on the tokens readers spend on your episodes. For each token spent, you receive 50% of the value. You can track your earnings through the Kindle Vella dashboard, which details the payout after Amazon’s share.

  • Payout Schedule: Royalties are paid monthly, approximately 60 days after the month's end in which the tokens were spent.
  • Minimum Payout: You must meet a minimum threshold before royalties are disbursed, depending on your preferred payment method.

Why It Might Not Be Worth It (Our Take)

Our AIA program was built for busy people who need to get their publishing business up as quickly as possible without sacrificing the publishing quality of the work they put out. It's also how we came up with the magic number of 30k words for how long a book should be.

We've helped thousands of people collectively generate over $50+ million in book royalties through a proven, time-tested process. We know what works, and we stick to it. We've seen this same system work for grandmas in Australia, farmers in Ireland, and schoolteachers in the US. It doesn't matter what background you come from or what degree you may or may not have.

Bottom line? Kindle Vella could be hugely successful for you (and we hope it is!), but it's definitely not required when there are easier ways to be successful with Amazon.

Earning Potential on Kindle Vella and Maximizing Earnings

The only way to be successful with this business model is to hook readers with the first few episodes to keep them coming back and getting excited for the next episode. Here are some quick tips: 

  • Strategic Pricing: Although you can't set specific episode prices, being mindful of episode length can affect the token cost and can help you figure out what length is best worth your time/effort. We recommend different strategies for pricing a Kindle book.
  • Reader Engagement: Readers can engage with your Vella profile by giving it a follow, giving their favorite episode a thumbs up, crowning their favorite story of the week, or answering polls. Typically, more engagement translates to more earnings. It's also why we suggest adding a "Review Request" page inside your books across KDP.
  • Tracking Analytics: The dashboard is there for a reason! You can track trends in seasons or experiment with your content to see if it makes a difference in your book sales for the month.

Pros & Cons of Kindle Vella Royalties System

We've already made our stance here pretty clear, so we won't hammer that again. But these are some pros and cons you might want to consider while making your own call.

Advantages of Kindle Vella for Publishers

  • 50% Royalty Rate: This can be a decent chunk IF you've got the readers and content to sustain your publishing business.
  • Serialized Content: By publishing in a serialized format, you can engage readers over time, building a following as your story progresses.
  • Reader Engagement: Tokens act as a gamified element that can drive reader investment and loyalty to your work (but it's definitely not a given).

Challenges and Limitations

  • Token Value Transparency: Amazon reserves the right to change token conversions at any point.
  • Exclusivity Requirements: You cannot publish your content as a book elsewhere for at least 30 days. If you do decide to publish it elsewhere after this exclusivity period, it must also be for profit.
  • Translation Rules: You cannot republish a translation of any previously published works if they've been published outside of Vella.
  • Location: This platform is only available to those in the US.

Quick Overview of the Kindle Vella Bonus Program

Amazon offers indie authors and publishers who publish serialized stories certain financial incentives. Here's how they work:

  • Bonus Criteria: Bonuses are awarded based on reader engagement, including the use of Tokens (both free and paid), as well as Faves and Follows on your stories.
  • Engagement Over Sales: The focus is on reader interaction with your content, not just book sales. High reader engagement, such as having top Faved stories, can bring in a bigger bonus.
  • Launch Bonus: New stories on Kindle Vella may qualify for a launch bonus, offering an initial financial boost.

Amazon decides how big the bonuses are, so they can hugely vary from month to month. 

Comparing Kindle Vella to Other Serialized Platforms

These are two of Vella's biggest competitors and what sets them apart:

  • Wattpad: Wattpad provides mostly free content, monetizing through advertisements and a premium subscription option. It has a huge user base, but it’s often seen as less professional than Amazon publishing. 
  • Radish: Radish features a micropayment system, offering initial chapters for free and then charging per chapter. This model caters to readers who are willing to pay for bite-sized content incrementally. (You can probably notice the similarities). 
  • Kindle Vella: Kindle Vella pays more than Radish but has fewer users than Wattpad. 

Genres and Categories on Kindle Vella

Each platform has its genre preferences, and Kindle Vella is no different.

Popular Genres on Kindle Vella

Here are just some examples of some of the most popular genres on the platform:

  • Romance: This is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after genres on Kindle Vella.
  • Mystery and Thriller: Combining suspense and intrigue, these genres keep readers engaged with cliffhangers that make the token-based system thrive.
  • Fantasy and Sci-Fi: These genres transport readers into new worlds, making serial storytelling an exciting adventure.
  • Young Adult (YA): Character-driven plots and relatable teen protagonists make YA a category that resonates strongly with the Vella episodic format.

Pro Tip: Fiction is out of our lane, but again, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. That being said, if you’re looking to make money online and grow your publishing business quicker, non-fiction is the way to go (and we can prove it). 

Choosing the Right Category

When publishing, you are allowed to choose two categories and up to seven tags (think subgenres like "magic"). Your decision should align with the central themes of your story. For example, a space opera would fit neatly into Science Fiction, whereas a coming-of-age story with magical elements might be best suited for Young Adult Fantasy. The key is to place your story where it naturally belongs to attract readers who are most interested in your genre.

Kindle Vella vs. Traditional Publishing

Your choice between Kindle Vella and traditional publishing depends on your career objectives, the nature of your work, and your desired level of involvement in the publishing process.

Traditional Publishing Process:

  • Involves finding a literary agent and pitching to publishers.
  • Potential benefits include advances on royalties, professional editing, marketing support, and wider distribution, including physical bookstores.
  • It's a longer process with the (slight) possibility of higher rewards but often involves relinquishing a significant portion of sales revenue to the publisher.

Kindle Vella's Model:

  • Provides a more immediate and direct publishing route without the need for an agent or traditional publisher.
  • Offers up to a 50% royalty rate, which is typically higher than traditional publishing royalties.
  • Ideal for publishers who prefer digital-only formats and want to maintain more control over their work.

Factors to Consider:

  • Personal Goals: Are you seeking the prestige and broad distribution of traditional publishing or the autonomy and higher royalties for books of digital platforms?
  • Genre and Length: Serialized formats on Kindle Vella may be more suited to certain genres and shorter, episodic content.
  • Creative Control: Self-publishing platforms like Kindle Vella allow more control over content, pricing, and marketing.

How Can Help You Maximize Your Royalties

We know Kindle Direct Publishing inside and out (it's kinda our thing).

Here's how we can help you turn an idea into a manuscript that brings in true passive income every month—the kind that pays you even when you're napping, picking up the kiddos from school, or living it up in Mexico on vacation.

Expert Guidance on Pricing Strategies

Wanna discover a proven dynamic pricing strategy that's guaranteed to make your books stand out against the competition that doesn't involve slashing your prices and dipping into your book profits?

Marketing and Promotion Support

Wanna get the blueprint for running Amazon ads and helping new readers find your book, even as a complete newbie with zero marketing experience? Well, we've got a ton of Kindle marketing strategies you could find out from us.

Royalty Optimization Consultation

Wanna figure out how to publish your book in several formats to earn royalties without a bunch of extra work?

Your Publishing Dream Starts Here! Sign Up for Our Free Webinar

You won't find a blueprint for creating Kindle Vella episodes on our free publishing webinar, but you will find...

  • Success stories from everyday people who have made lifechanging income with just an Amazon account
  • The secret to turning an idea into hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month while outsourcing 99% of the work if you don't have the time to do it yourself
  • How to make publishing work for you no matter how busy your schedule is

The proof is in the pudding (and our webinar). Come check it out! 

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