Kindle Vella, Serial Time Killer? by Dan Walker

Whether you are pro-Amazon or hate the powerful marketing juggernaut, you have to admit it the company is the master of sales, delivery, and marketing of everything from books to bras to bonbons. Now Amazon has introduced the serialized novel as part of their Kindle bookshelf. It’s called Kindle Vella and it allows the reader to buy and read a book one chapter at a time. It also allows the writer to produce and publish a story one chapter — they call them episodes — at a time. I understand that Amazon has offered this service in Europe for some time but only introduced it in the USA this year. 

I decided to stick my toe in the Kindle Vella pool and check the temperature. I started editing and publishing chapters of a manuscript that had languished in the file folders of my laptop that I called, Dogbreath. I jumped in with both feet by designing a cover with a photo of one of my dogs and began revising and polishing my work, posting chapters as I went. The format of Kindle Vella is writer-friendly with a simple master page where each episode (chapter) is listed and the writer can edit a previous episode or start a new one. When adding a new episode, the writer can paste content from a word processor or compose directly on the page. From looking around on the website, it appears that the busiest genres are, of course, fantasy and romance. 

So far, I have twenty-two episodes posted and after a couple months on the Kindle Vella platform, I have no reads, that’s right ZERO. Not one person has read even the first chapter of my story. This is really depressing because the first three chapters of any book are free to the reader. Immediately, I wanted to blame Amazon, but on closer examination, other writers are being read, some of them a lot. Some writings are showing good readership, and I’m sure, making money on this platform; I should be able to as well. Hmm, what am I doing wrong?

A problem I see is marketing, which is hard enough for traditional books. To attract readers to a new format on a new platform is just one more straw on the writing camel’s back. I don’t think Amazon is doing much marketing for the writers or the platform, so it is the burden of the writer to prime that marketing pump and get people looking at their work. As with much writing today, marketing can take more time than the writing process.

On Instagram and Twitter there are, of course, several groups for promoting and supporting Vella writers, and, yes, some seem to be writers promoting themselves to other writers.  #kindlevella  #kindlevellastory  #kindle_vella_storytellers. So now I must decide if I want to spend time and energy promoting this little project, or do I chalk it up to a writing exercise. For now, I plan to complete and post the final chapters to my story and put in some time promoting Dogbreath through social media platforms. After that, this kindle Vella gig will have to compete with all the other ideas and projects tapping my shoulder and asking for my time and energy. 

Is Kindle Vella the way of the future? I doubt it, but it is a place to get your writing on a public platform. And even if no one reads it but Mom and your best friend, you’re writing and putting it out there. Isn’t that what this is all about?

1 thought on “Kindle Vella, Serial Time Killer? by Dan Walker”

  1. Thanks Dan, for sharing your experience with this available publishing opportunity.
    News to me.
    Could be a great motivating tool – write an episode, publish an episode.
    Results – Now.
    A trade-off, as you so deftly put, and a platform that seems reliant on author marketing.
    I imagine for some projects, such as “Dogbreath” – the chance to get something out – and work on making a book (rather than writing one) is rather rewarding.
    Like the control for the author too – you designing your own cover etc.
    Looking forward to reading “Dogbreath” soon.

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