Vella is Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing’s (KDP) serialization platform. It’s strictly online and does not result in an e-book.
Even though I’ve published six chapters of my novel, A Home for an Exile’s Heart on Vella, I’m still not convinced that it was my best publishing choice. Vella seems pretty slap-dash, like the staff is still trying to figure out how to set it up and what’s required.
I found out about Vella because I’ve already self-published several stories on KDP and they sent me an email about Vella coming soon. “Soon” being no more specific than in “several months.” That was back in May. Even though the date was unknown, KDP writers were urged to publish on Vella anyway. I published two chapters, got sick of waiting for further news, and looking in vain for my chapters, which were supposedly “live” I unpublished them. In the meantime, I queried a few agents and publishers about my novel, with no success.
I was still toying with the idea of setting up a premium block on WordPress and serializing my book here. Setting up a “donations/tips” block yielded me exactly nothing. As a friend pointed out, people who use Amazon go to the site expecting to buy things, not get them for free. Of course, there’s also Amazon’s huge number of users, which convinced me to go ahead. Even if only a fraction of them buy my book, I’d have a good size audience.
Another thing that gave me pause is the fact that “for now” Vella is only available in the USA and many of my potential readers are Latvians who live in the UK, Canada, Australia, Latvia, and other places all over the world. But, as the same friend reminded me, I want a much wider audience than just fellow Latvians. When Amazon first started out, it, too, was available only in the USA and now it’s worldwide.
Early in July, I received another message from KDP that the Vella store would be available, “next week.” How silly of me to expect that they’d specify what day. But I published six chapters anyway.
What’s to like about Vella.
It’s easy to use. Enter your name, pick a cover illustration, write interesting tags and a short, descriptive hook, and upload your chapters one at a time.
You can edit your cover illustration and edit chapters at any time.
A large potential audience.
The longshot possibility that an agent or an editor from a traditional publisher will find it. Probably no greater a long shot than trying to find an agent or editor yourself.
What’s not so likable.
Finding the Vella store seems to be a problem for some people. I’ve had Amazon bookmarked for ages and the Vella banner didn’t show up. I unbookmarked it and bookmarked it again and the banner was there.
Creative control is limited. No choice of fonts. The cover photo shows up in a small circle, so the design has to be clean and simple. My first choice for a cover photo looked great when I downloaded it from a stock site but was a confusing mess in the Vella cover photo. Too much detail.
Having to wait an unknown time before Vella is available globally.
It’s a popularity contest, but then so are the bestseller lists. I’m not sure a story like mine will ever make the list. No vampires, no werewolves, no Highlanders.
Although their “faves” list includes 250 titles, they’re not categorized.
Every time you edit a chapter or the cover illustration it goes to “review” and is not available to readers. The process is pretty quick, though.
No one has made clear how payments to the author work. Since I set up a payment method when I published my KDP stories, I’m guessing that Vella payments work the same way. I do like that I don’t have to figure out how to set up a payment block.
As with all publishing, it’s a matter of wait and see.