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Self-publishing News: What Is Kindle Vella?

Self-publishing News: What is Kindle Vella?

In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at Amazon's new serial fiction offering, Kindle Vella.

Dan Holloway head and shoulders

ALLi's News Editor Dan Holloway

Watch out for this month's self-publishing news podcast at the weekend. Howard and I will be looking back at a month in which subscription reading flexed its muscles, and we'll inevitably be talking about the future of book fairs. On tonight's #indieauthorchat with Tim Lewis, at 8pm GMT, we'll be talking about one of those topics authors love to hate – networking.

Amazon Launches Kindle Vella

I report on the growth of subscription services almost every week. And increasingly, that has meant subscription serial reading. One of the things that has meant has been contrasting the growing range of platforms with Amazon. While audiobooks are a different matter, for ebooks that has just meant Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited has increasingly felt outdated. It has been subject to manipulation historically as a result of the way page reads have been calculated. And it has never really separated itself in authors’ minds from early controversies about the drop in income as reading shifted from downloads to page reads. 

Amazon’s new Kindle Vella steps into that void. Kindle Vella, at first just available in the USA, allows authors to cut works up into chunks and bundle those chunks into a series. Each chunk can be between 600 and 5000 words. Readers can then pay a number of “tokens” to read each chunk. If they like what you're writing and want to read more, they unlock the content one chunk at a time. Not exactly rocket science, but it avoids all of those issues Kindle Unlimited had of gaming the page reads system.

How Kindle Vella Works

What this means for us in terms of revenue, is that we make 50% of the cost of the tokens readers buy in order to unlock our work. So, again in contrast to KU (at least some of the time) an ungameable incentive to keep readers hooked. What this means in practice is quite complicated, and you can find the full explanation on the Kindle Vella page here. In short:

  • 1 token unlocks 100 words (598 = 5 tokens, 602 = 6 tokens)
  • tokens are bought in bundles of 200, 525, 1100 or 1700, so the price of each token will vary (only slightly) – but work out around 1c each
  • your earnings will be the number of pages unlocked/100 multiplied by half the token cost
  • in practice that means each 100 words will get you about half a cent, 20,000 words about a dollar

You can also add a note at the end of each episode to thank readers and encourage them to read on.

You can find full guidance on how to publish episodes on Kindle Vella here.

Apple Podcast Subscriptions

Talking of subscription options for creatives, Apple has just launched subscriptions for Apple podcasts. This will enable podcasters to set monetise subscriptions to their podcasts. It will also give access to a new dashboard with improved analytics to help marketing. All of that, though, comes with a fee rather than a royalty split model.

London Book Fair (Finally) Goes Online

Shortly after last week’s column was published, we finally heard from London Book Fair. The news was hardly a surprise. This year’s event would be moving wholly online. What is not 100% clear is how the online version will look and feel, or who will be there. And exhibitors who had rolled over their fees from last year will have the option of either using them to secure an online space this year or hoping there will be an in person event next year.

The question this really raises is why, when it is so obvious we are heading in a certain direction, it takes organisers so long to make a final decision. In hindsight, the times when acting too late cause more harm than acting too early far outweigh the reverse. So why does it keep happening? In a way, of course, this is a question for the whole world to reflect on after Covid, not just our industry’s small corner of it.

Netflix to Make First Film Sourced From Wattpad

When I report on serialised subscription I often end up talking about Wattpad. For years, they have taken a lead on finding ways for authors to connect with audiences. And while the central self-publishing platform that clocks up billions of reads every month remains free, many of the authors who do well there find routes to monetisation, often rather creative routes that Wattpad provide. One such is the way Wattpad works with TV and film studios. 

The latest development in this area is the announcement that Netflix is to make its first movie based on a Wattpad manuscript. Through My Window is a Young Adult romance, a genre at which Wattpad excels. The film comes from Netflix Spain. The book initially moved from Wattpad to Penguin Random House and then on to Netflix.

What opportunities does Amazon's new Kindle Vella offer indies and other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Share on X

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Help us fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months.

Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) – Zoom meetings the 2nd Saturday of each month

APRIL 2021

Chanticleer Conference, 21-25 Apr

MAY 2021

Love Lambeth Ebook Open Day, 15 May

JUNE 2021

American Libraries Association Annual Conference, 23-29 Jun


Comic Con, 22-25 Jul

Over to You

Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


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