I want to love Kindle Vella

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.

Maybe it’s just me, but I expect to go down the left column first, then the right.

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:

  • Wound (Horror) Post-apocalyptical, survival, vampires
  • Phone, Keys, Claws, Teeth (YA Paranormal) High school, family secrets, werewolves
  • Art History (MM Romance) Childhood friends, enemies to lover, academic intrigue!

Trying to do too much?

I’m the queen of great ideas and bad follow through.

I’ve been watching/listening to a lot of videos about writing, craft and business, and I’ve come to realize that I’m not only putting the cart before the horse, but I don’t even have a horse, or a cart, or a road, or a place to go. Outside of my three Kindle Vella series, I’m a bit scattered, even though I’ve talked about various projects here before.

I’m the queen of great ideas and bad follow through.

I think that’s why the Kindle Vella series appeal to me now. I’d had a hard time finding a following on other serial sites and, while, the market seems dominated by steamy romance and LitRPG (neither of which I write) I decided to take a gamble.

Then I quickly became overwhelmed. And started having new ideas. Then over-overwhelmed.

The natural step after over-overwhelm is paralysis and then I get into a funk and don’t do anything at all. You can give me plenty of planners, systems, motivation, even people to sit with me while I work, but I won’t know where to go. And the one thing I’m bad at is the one thing I need to be good at: finishing my shit.

I even started a NaNoWriMo group focused on Finishing Our Shit Stuff and then abandoned it after a week or two. (Sorry, y’all. It’s not you. It’s always me.)

I’ve been thinking about all the half-finished, partially-started pieces I have saved and wondered if I could dedicate myself to finishing these pieces and putting them out there, whether indie publishing them under this pen name or submitting them to publications under another. Who knows? But it’s a challenge that I have only failed in the past.

Nowhere to go but up, as they say.

What I am doing now is reassessing each week what tasks actually get me moving forward. Writing is always a Definitely. Other things, not so much. So, more writing. (Yeah, I’ve been here before and this time may not be different, but there’s only one starting place and that’s where the starting starts.)

Good luck to me. Good luck to you.

Introducing Phone, Keys, Claws, Teeth

If you’ve been to my home page, you can see that I currently have three Kindle Vella stories running. Wound has been going since this summer and is in the middle of Season 2: Slake. The other, Art History, I’ll introduce in another post. Here, I want to talk about Phone, Keys, Claws, Teeth and the worst prom night ever.

I wanted to write something in the first-person present, which has always been a challenge for me. When I first started, it was difficult (still is at times) because my brain seems to revert to third-person as a default. Perhaps there something scary about completely inhabiting a character’s mind, though I would argue I am as close to Amanda as I am to my point-of-view characters in my other stories. Maybe the trouble is in being so obvious about that inhabitation, closing the distance by using “I”?

As I write, I feel like I’m finding Amanda’s voice and developing little quirks and turns of phrase. Her parent, Harold and Lilly, seem real to me as well, but Kevin, well, he’s a bit of a puzzler. Jarrod, on the other hand, is a complete mystery. I can’t wait to see what his surprise it.

Feel free to check out the first three episodes for free on Kindle Vella and let me know what you think. I hope the story sinks its teeth into you.