How’s Kindle Vella Working Out?

This post at Passive Voice caught my eye because I’m mildly curious — only mildly — in how the serialized-story platform Kindle Vella will turn out.

You may remember my post about Kindle Vella from some time ago. I’m not at all interested in this platform myself — I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole, UNLESS I had a complete, finished novel that I thought was perfectly suited to this sort of presentation. I mean, I suppose a novel would be “perfectly suited” to presentation as a serialized story if, for example, every chapter ended on a mild cliffhanger. And the chapters were pretty short and episodic. And, as I said, the overall book is totally finished so that I’ve already smoothed out all the foreshadowing and so forth.

I don’t really expect to write anything like that, is what I’m implying.

Also, as a reader, I hate serialized stories. I hate having to wait for the next installment of anything. I almost never read teaser chapters of anything.

My basic expectation is that some reasonable fraction of early adopters of Kindle Vella will experience considerable success through this platform. I wouldn’t bother deciding whether this modality is “successful,” whatever that means, until the platform has been around for a couple of years. By then any author jumping into it will probably find it much more difficult to get any traction. That’s an assumption, but I bet I’m right. Then in ten years it’ll either be gone or will have established itself for the time being with a reasonable niche of the market or, who knows, will have been supplanted by some other new platform.

Anyway, this article is one that’s focusing on the “early adopters experiencing success” part of this predicted curve. If you would like to click through, the article has links to a handful of top ongoing serials.

And here is a post from Jane Friedman’s blog, by Audry Kalman, in which an early adopter of Kindle Vella describes her experience so far. Her experience has been largely positive, and enhanced by going in cautiously and without great expectations. Kalman also recommends not trying this with a book that isn’t finished, so that does answer my personal greatest worry if I were interested in this platform as a reader. She doesn’t indicate whether the platform identifies books that have been entirely finished with all chapters uploaded, but if Vella doesn’t do this, I think it should.

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7 thoughts on “How’s Kindle Vella Working Out?”

  1. There is aleady such an app. It was called serial box and i didnt like it, because there was no app. Now it is rebranded, and it looks much better.
    I bought the first installment of Tremaine that way, but managing all the files was a nuisance. With an app, I might try again.

  2. I subscribed to Sherwood Smith’s Patreon site and have mixed feelings. I read her third book in her Phoenix feather series in one sitting and that was terrific , but her young Allie’s series just never seems to progress to an ending. She’s now giving us (hopefully) the last book in the Phoenix feather series, and I think she is reworking the ending, which I’m not sure I like. Also, it posts at 3am and I wake up and read it and can’t get back to sleep. Stupid!!

  3. Marc Whipple, a Vella author and IP attorney, recently posted some tweets (which I can’t find, maybe deleted?) suggesting that Amazon is already treating Vella as an afterthought. Among other things, Amazon doesn’t link an author’s Vella stories to their Kindle author pages, which isn’t great for cross-discoverability.

  4. Well, Mike, that would bother me if I were interested in this platform. But it’s possible Amazon will pull Vella together in the next few months as they sort out better ways to handle it. It took a long time for certain bugs to disappear from the hardcover option after that was technically out of beta, and that should have been much (much) easier to handle than Vella.

    But who knows! Maybe they’ve thought better of the platform already or the person who’s special baby it was has moved on or something.

  5. Alison, I have to say, I bet Sherwood Smith would be pretty happy to know readers might wake up at 3:00 AM and read the new chapter she posted!

    But yes, it would be frustrating if the story didn’t seem to progress. That’s one really good reason to have the entire work finished and thoroughly polished before posting even the first chapter.

  6. New thread from Marc with many more details about Vella, including numbers, in case it’s of interest. His conclusion:

    “So would I recommend that other authors use the Vella platform?

    “Not at this time. The discoverability is awful/the audience isn’t big enough, and Amazon continues to support the program as if it were the brainchild of that smelly guy who gets handsy at the Xmas party.”

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