Earlier in 2021, Amazon launched their new serial platform, Kindle Vella. What? You haven’t heard of it? Well, it’s no wonder. Amazon’s been taking the phrase “soft launch” to new levels. While there have been some impressive ads spotted in the wild, the larger Amazon-verse doesn’t seem ready to acknowledge it’s own version of Radish, Wattpad, or Royal Road. For new writers, like myself, pulling new people into an unknown, untested, pay-as-you-read app has been a bit of a struggle. For established writers, their cup overfloweth.
Wow, this sounds bitter. It’s not!
See I enjoy writing in this format and originally started my series, Wound, at Tapas and Webnovel. The thing is, it was hard to get traction there as well. Horror isn’t the hot genre (isekai, LitRPG, and romance sub-genres take the top spot) but I felt a little more noticed. When I heard about Vella (which requires exclusivity or paywalls) I made the jump. I think I made the right choice, but I still wonder. If I had built up a following elsewhere, would they have followed me to this platform? I’m honestly not sure, because I’m not sure Amazon knows what they’re going to do with Vella.
At least they really haven’t said.
Where is it?
Well, you can access it online and read stories that way, but the interface for web reading leaves a bit to be desired. It’s clearly formatted for mobile viewing and even the way the chapters are listed is unusual.
Your Kindle app is the best place to read your serials, since you can receive updates when new chapters are released. I follow and read several serials and this is the best way to experience them – and probably the way it’s intended. Yet, buried within the Kindle app, which I don’t use much on my phone for reading novels, it feels very hidden. I would think that Amazon would release a new stand-alone app just for Vella, but I’m not sure that’s in the cards. If they really wanted to take on the other big serial players, an app that delivers a similar experience would be essential, right?
Heading to the main Kindle Vella page will give you some clue as to the best performing genres, what’s trending, and the “Top Faved” section – which doesn’t’ seem to change much each month. As a writer it’s discouraging but that’s on me to write a better story. As a reader it makes the page feel stagnant if those favs never change. Since I’m following stories, those appear on top, but “Popular Tags” is right below and they don’t line up with my interests. I would think something along the lines of “Also Boughts” – like “Stories with Similar Tags” would encourage more discovery on my – the reader’s – part and, hopefully, serve up my story to more potential readers of horror, etc.
Also, there’s no horror genre. That should be changed.
Anything else you don’t like?
Well, I don’t like the long review process when fixing a typo in a story. I don’t like that I have to schedule at least four days out if I want to get ahead and not miss a release day. I don’t like the opaque bonus payment structure. I think without a concerted effort by Amazon to market Vella, most of the clicks will come from authors trying to help other authors (outside of those with established audiences) and will ultimately fizzle away.
Which sucks, because I really like writing my stories. I just wish I knew how to help people read them.
Handy links to read the first three episodes (free) of my Kindle Vella stories: