This "How to upload a Kindle Vella story" is an author's guide and is a great place to learn all about the relatively new platform called Kindle Vella. It began in April 2021, making it two years old as of this page's posting (April 2023).
The stories listed in the Kindle Vella library are essentially eBooks.
First of all, many people haven't heard of Amazon's Kindle Vella platform, so what the heck is it? It's a serialized reading platform featuring "episodic" stories that contain short episodes for a quick read on the go or where available reading time is limited.
These stories can be viewed in different ways such as via the Kindle reader mobile app on phones and desktop computers. You're not forced to use a Kindle reader, like a Paperwhite for example. Just pick up your phone and read when and where you want.
Kindle Vella works the same way as buying an eBook for download to your Kindle does. Instead, you read short stories one episode at a time on your phone (or desktop computer).
One of the best things, to me, is that readers use "tokens" to purchase episodes in order to unlock the next episode, rather than spending a set amount for a whole book.
This helps Kindle Vella readers decide if they want to continue reading your story. They actually have seven days (after using tokens) to "return a Kindle Vella Episode" for a refund of their tokens; no cash-back.
Bear in mind the first three episodes of any Kindle Vella story are always free to read. When readers first join Kindle Vella, they might receive free tokens to get them going and it's a great way to get their attention!
When learning how to upload a Kindle Vella story, you'll see that this is a dream platform for Kindle Vella writers... for self-published authors - or brand new authors alike. How so? Because it gives writers a way to test-market their books. They can discover new readers' preferences and with Vella's ability to let readers leave comments (which is a new feature), you'll find it's an invaluable way to gain important feedback on episodes of any story.
Those reader comments are posted to the app at the end of each episode and can be accessed (and responded to) by the author inside the main Kindle Vella area.
There is also a poll feature. Once used, you can elect to delete it after to poll's 'close date.' It's a one-shot deal. You cannot add a new poll after deleting an old poll. The only time you can add a poll is prior to publishing the episode.
Use the polling to ask your readers a question. There is a minimum of two choices (answers) per question (otherwise it wouldn't be a choice, right?) and yes, you can add more answers/choices to that question. You type in the answers (in the appropriate fields) to the questions (which become their choices). In return, your readers provide their answers by selecting the corresponding radio button.
Now I know why the phrase, "A picture is worth a thousand words" came into being.
Here's "the picture"...
At the end of each episode's content, there's an area for an author’s note. You are allowed a max of 200 words and they are separate from the overall episode word count.
This is where I personally encourage readers to give the story a "thumbs up" and to "follow" the story.
In Amazon's words: "It's a tool to build engagement on your story..." So really, it's better to use it as a teaser for what's coming up next. Use that area to pose questions relating to the next episode, like, "Will Jason Dump Pamela Again?" so it makes readers want to continue reading, right?
I think people skip past "follow" and "thumbs up" as call-to-actions, nowadays. It's not intriguing at all, is it? But posing teasers about the upcoming episode is enticing and 'unskippable!'
If you want to know how to upload a Kindle Vella story and publish it on the Kindle Vella platform, here's what you need to do:
* Do not add text on your images - see the image coming up. You can see Amazon adds your title and author name beneath the circular image.
** A Kindle Vella story needs a minimum of 10 Episodes; the max is open-ended. Like a TV soap opera!
If you decide to post-date your Episode and begin a new Episode, the new Episode cannot be released until the post-dated episode has passed and has been published. That makes sense, right?
This is how your Vella story will look to searchers (note that clicking on them will take you to my actual Vella listing):
Take note of the big letter "V" in the backgrounds of the above images. The color of "V" (for "Vella") is taken from one of the colors used in your images and is done automatically.
The images below are what they look like (as listings) inside my account:
You can publish your story’s episodes using your regular name, or your pen name (and more than one pen name, by the way).
The first three episodes of any Kindle Vella story are always free to read, which is great in my opinion. Readers won't think twice about spending "tokens" if they like what they've read in the first three episodes.
Think about it: This also means zero returns, dollar-wise of our books (versus being released 'the regular Kindle Direct Publishing-way.')
As writers, then, it's our job to make sure readers love each new episode, right? Especially the first three! They must be entranced by the story, otherwise, you've wasted precious time: yours and theirs.
The number of tokens it takes to read Kindle Vella stories depends upon the length of the episode. It takes one token per 100 words, in my experience.
So a 700-word episode requires 7 tokens to unlock the next installment. You can purchase tokens via Amazon's website and right now 200 tokens only cost $1.99 for an average read of 8 episodes.
Amazon sells tokens in these quantities:
Those prices listed in parentheses are "sale" prices. Otherwise,
Readers can find your stories via the Kindle Vella Store on Amazon.com and they can be read via the Kindle app on Apple phones, Androids, and on Kindle Fire devices.
A single Kindle Vella episode must be longer than 600 words with a cap of 5000 words. I like to keep an Episode between 800 and 1500 words though a sweet spot tends to be from 1200 to 2000 words.
This makes it a good length for a quick read for folks who enjoy taking a break during a busy day.
You can use:
You cannot use indented paragraphs or headings.
Also not allowed:
Each Kindle Vella story can have as many as seven tags. These tags will function as search keywords for your story, but not all of the tags will show on your story's detail page. Amazon reserves the right to update this so they can provide "the best customer experience."
I'm sure there will be "an app for that" somewhere to detect what tag words the most popular stories are using.
Authors are creating Kindle Vella books for kids (myself included). One of my Kindle Vella stories is called "The Adventures of Winston + Big-Bo" which is comprised of 34 episodes.
The Kindle Vella categories are:
As of the time of writing this page (April 2023), I believe you have to wait a minimum of 30 days beyond the latest Episode's "published date" meaning that the Vella version has been available to read for at least 30 days on Amazon’s Kindle Vella platform.
You must make a declaration in your book's description that the (Vella) story was previously released on Kindle Vella. For example: Previously published as [Story Title] [Episodes 1-10] on Kindle Vella.
This is a good way to let regular Kindle readers (eBook and paperback buyers) know about its previous release on the Kindle Vella website, just in case they have already used tokens to purchase it on the Kindle Vella platform!
Hey, it's hard to remember the titles of everything you've read, right? So I defend using that 'declaration' in your soon-to-be-published eBook or paperback on Kindle Direct Publishing product description. Be sure to follow the rules, too, of other self-publishing platforms.
There are similar book-hosting-creating platforms such as Draft 2 Digital (D2D) and Kobo (now owned by Rakuten). But there's a whole slew of rules between Amazon and those other platforms. Just make sure you're not breaking the rules. Make sure to un-enroll your books from KDP Select, for one.
Visit Amazon's KDP for up-to-date rules.