Is it worth it?
Kindle Vella’s first anniversary has rolled around to little fanfare. Do readers even know about it? I probably wouldn’t if I didn’t have stories on the platform. I rarely participate as a reader–yet. That could change. Before Vella launched, I deleted my Wattpad account despite being one of the platform’s “star” authors and winning a Watty award. That decision was complicated, but mostly I closed shop on Wattpad because it was holding me back as a writer, meaning it was time to stop giving away my work for free and take a more robust leap into earning money for my creative efforts. In that respect, Vella has paid off handsomely. I’ve made thousands of dollars on the stories I transferred from Wattpad to Vella, however, most of these earnings came from Amazon’s bonuses, not organic readers. That score has been pitiful, as I imagine has been the case for most writers crowding onto that platform. The top performers on Vella either already have a solid readership base eager to follow their stories anywhere–I recognize a few famous names among them–or have a hell of a PR campaign. There may also be some organic growth there, especially among the evergreen romance genres. My epic fantasy story, Starlex, was one of the first of its kind on Vella and had a great launch, which unfortunately lost steam as more authors jumped on the bandwagon. If Amazon is encouraging uploads to grow its content base, it appears to be working.
I won’t attempt to decipher the Amazon algorithm, but based on the bonuses I’ve received, it seems to reward frequent uploads over organic reads. Completed stories become quickly dead in the water, which leads to the question of how best to promote them. Sales savvy authors will figure out a way, but most of us seemed to have drifted to the usual Facebook groups where “promotion” boils down to “I’ll read yours if you read mine.”
There is a fine line between showing another indie author “support” through authentic reads and scrolling through their content, marking each episode with a thumbs up, and posting a screenshot to prove you’ve “read” it. Authors can undoubtedly be readers of other indie works–I certainly am–which is where the fine line comes into play. I welcome another indie’s opinion of my work and am happy to do the same, but I don’t want someone “unlocking” my episodes in exchange for the same. I want readers who actually read my episodes and enjoy them. The practice seems very much like review swapping, which is not only against Amazon’s policy, but also pretty tacky. That’s not the way to find readers.
Vella’s future is difficult to predict. Amazon seems to have modeled some of Vella’s designs after Wattpad–the token system in particular, but their interactive features are lacking. The poll never works when I try to implement it, and I do miss Wattpad’s social interaction and direct contact with readers and other writers.
Has it been worth it? For the money I’ve earned, I suppose so. It will be interesting to see how Vella will develop and how many authors will drop out once the bonuses stop. I plan to finish up my fantasy series on Vella–I’m currently on book two–and maybe write some romances under a pen name as an experiment.
Do you have a story on Kindle Vella, or do you use the platform as a reader? I’d love to hear about your experience, so please leave a comment below.
Goodreads Book Giveaway
by R. Saint Claire
Giveaway ends July 25, 2022.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.