Hello friends! This is Sonia, the new WEP team member, welcoming you to a new segment of #WEP, your foremost online writing challenge site. Denise has put me in charge of the guest posts.
We are into another year and the first challenge on the prompt 'Gone With the Wind' is already past us. Please check out the winners' post here!
This year we are offering a new format to replace the automatic guest post from the winner -- a 'HOW-TO' SERIES for our readers. These informative posts are by invitation only and will help us all navigate the up and coming challenges as well as changes/innovations happening in the writing world.
For Part I of this new segment we are proud to present an enlightening article on KINDLE VELLA by N.R. Williams (Nancy), a long-standing founding member of WEP. We know Nancy is especially impressed with her Kindle Vella experience and are grateful to Nancy for sharing her learned wisdom with us. Over to her!
What’s up? - Kindle Vella!
Greetings, WEPers. Denise has asked me to write an article about Amazon’s new platform, Kindle Vella. So, here are the nuts & bolts of it. Pass the cashews, please.
Kindle Vella is two years old. Just a toddler, really. And only available in the USA. I’ve been writing to Vella since May 2022. Instead of writing chapters, you write episodes. It’s not a screenplay mind you, but episodes just the same as your favorite TV (tellie for some of you) show.
Some writers say it is different than writing a book, but for me, I just write and try to make it compelling. You do want to end each episode with a cliffhanger, which isn’t necessary if you’re writing romance. The first three of every episode are free. So, you want to grab the reader by the seat of their pants. Amazon requires that you write at least 600 words and no more than 5,000 words per episode.
After that, the reader pays in tokens, and each story is measured by word count. So, if you have 600 - 699 words, the reader pays six tokens. If 1,000 - 1,999, the reader pays ten tokens. I write until the episode is complete without paying attention to word count, but generally, my episodes are anywhere from 600 to 1,400. I recently had to buy tokens. To give you an idea -
Cost of Tokens - $$
If someone is a new reader to Vella, Amazon gives them 200 tokens free. After that, there is a small fee to buy more. I buy the max when I do for $14.99, which gives me 1,700 tokens.
At the end of each episode is a place for the writer to leave a note. You should make this as personal as possible, such as…’Oh my, do you think Cyril is guilty? Or has he been framed? Whatever will happen next?’ Or ‘As a writer, I always end up doing a little research…’ etc. I have noticed the more successful authors follow this with directions on what the reader should do. Each episode has a thumbs-up symbol the reader needs to press, or you won’t get paid. There is also a + sign, which will notify Amazon that the reader wants to follow this story, and they will get notified when new episodes are uploaded. Then, remind the reader to make this story a ‘fave’ so other readers can find it. Amazon asks readers to pick a ‘fave’ once a week from the stories their reading. This makes you highly visible to other readers. And last but definitely not least, ask them to leave a review on the first story page. If a review is left on any other episode page, it doesn’t show up on the main story page. That’s a problem in my view. Also, as a writer, don’t leave a review because if the person who’s reading also leaves a review on your story, neither of you will be allowed to publish to Amazon in the future, on any platform. (That just irritates me no end.)
I’ve since learned that the sky won’t fall if your episodes are more than a month apart. I’ve left a lot of reviews of everything I’ve read. So, I had a panic attack when I first heard that.
You can also run a poll at the end of each episode if you’re inclined to do so. I rarely do that.
The best part about Vella is in publishing your story. No formatting is required. Just cut and paste. It’s so easy. Then you fill in all the info, title, author notes, poll, and select a publishing date, or just hit publish. I’m a just-hit-publish kind of girl. Amazon reviews what you wrote to make sure it’s within their standards. (Not to worry, I’ve read sex scenes and cuss words.) After that, it’s just a few hours before your story is live.
There are thousands of stories on Kindle Vella, and your new baby is at the back. Thus begins your quest to make it visible to readers. Fortunately, there are Vella groups on Facebook designed to help you do just that. There’s one set up to help authors with questions. Several are designed just to let you advertise, and more than two run challenges. I do two of them. Hella Vella runs a challenge every weekend. You post your link, and then you have to read ten other people’s stories, at least 5 paid episodes each. And there is Story Stash, where you post your links and read 4 episodes from ten people. The free ones are okay. I spend every weekend doing this. And my stories are climbing toward visibility. Now, just between you and me, I can’t actually read that much. So, I start out reading, but if the story lacks quality or doesn’t interest me, I scan it and hit the thumbs up to make my quota. I’m sure others do that too. I can honestly say I understand the problems agents have much better now.
Anyone can write to Vella, and they do. Many would-be authors don’t know the first thing about writing, but they still write to Vella. Don’t try to correct anyone because you’ll be eaten alive. But, the good news to that is, those of us who are seasoned shine. The philosophy is for most writers that this is a way to make money while writing their book. So, even good authors don’t always catch mistakes. I run my stories through Grammarly because quality is important to me.
There is a two-month delay in being paid for one month. You’re paid based on how many thumbs up you get in the month and how many episodes you publish. So, it’s good if you are dedicated to producing a lot of work. I usually get six episodes written a week and publish on two stories - currently, King Julian and 5 Friends & Lovers. Julian gets 4 and Friends gets 2. Someone figured out you make about $9.00 per story if someone reads all the episodes. Of course, this depends on how many actual episodes you have. But what you actually get is very small. What matters is the Amazon bonus. Each month varies. The most I’ve made so far is $149.19.
Amazon just released the option for readers to connect with the author by commenting. A link is at the bottom of every story. Once you have readers, this promises to be an exciting tool.
If you live in the USA, you can read Vella on your computer. If you have an e-reader registered with Amazon, the story will automatically download to your reader once you start reading on your computer. If someone deletes your story from their e-reader, it won’t affect you negatively because your paid per episode.
Sad to say, there are negatives to Kindle Vella. First, Amazon doesn’t have the option to advertise. Sometimes they promote, but individual authors don’t have an advertising platform with Vella on Amazon. So, Facebook and other social media platforms are the only way to advertise at the moment. I tried Fussy Librarian, but it was expensive, and I only had one person read more than three episodes, so not a money maker.
Second, it’s hard to find Vella stories on Amazon’s webpage. First, you have to type in Kindle Vella in their search box. That takes you to a page with books on Vella. At the top of the page, in small print it says, Kindle Vella: stories that pull you in one short episode at a time. Click on that, and you go to the Vella Stories. That takes you to a page that gives you search options to find the type of story you’re interested in and also shows you any stories you’ve read a little or a lot of. From there, you can scroll down to see the top ‘fave.’
That’s a total of 3 clicks. Most people won’t do that. So, room for improvement.
Amazon said they wanted to keep Kindle Vella just in the USA to test it and see if it would succeed. Well, I think the answer to that is, yes, it’s a success. It will be an even bigger success if and when it becomes international. So, all you great international writers, contact Amazon and let them know you want the opportunity to write to Kindle Vella.
Just like with your books, you’ll have a separate Kindle Vella dashboard to keep track of your stories and to upload your episodes.
Have I answered all your questions?
If not, ask in the comments, and I’ll try to answer.
Now it’s time to kick your heels up and enjoy a Vella story.
N. R. Williams
Thank you, Nancy! This article is very informative. Give us some feedback in comments on Nancy's article. Do you like the idea of 'How-to' posts? Is there an area of expertise you'd like to share with WEP?
Dear reader, after all. what can be better than getting paid for your writing? Guess, participating in the #WEP Challenge, right? So, join us all through 2023. Check out the prompts given below and jump right in.
Here's more about Nancy Williams:
N. R. Williams - website
FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER
In her own words: Who knew I'd grow up to be a writer? Certainly not me. Stories wove from my imagination changing me from a day-dreaming kid to a published author.'
Look up the detailed Challenge blurb here. There are many potential directions to explore. Firstly, the indirect - the setting : war, fascism, the Holocaust, Italy, any one of them can inspire. The underpinning issues of World War II or any war - the racism, the random cruelty, the injustice, the tragedy, the humour and poetry and other spinoffs. Then there is the direct, intimate angle - the not-so-rich-boy-meets-upper-class-girl motif. There's the bond between father and son. The games adults play with (their) children. The desire to safeguard one's own even at the cost of death. Countless possibilities. Use any of these, or ignore them totally and come with your own - it's up to you!
Post - April 19th to 21st 2023