Vella: 132K Words=$1

Yep. One buck.

To clarify, Vella does not buy anything. It’s a free platform for writers to self-publish their books in serial form. Amazon takes a cut of royalties.

This is a depressing piece to write.

Of course, my chapters have been “live” only since July 14. It takes time to build an audience. It also takes promoting, promoting, promoting. It takes readers who are willing to buy 200 tokens for $1.99 and up to $14.99 for 1700 tokens. 

Marketing is not much fun. I hate it.

I’ve published only twenty-two chapters of my novel, A Home for an Exile’s Heart. I have more chapters I could publish, but why should I bother if no one but one of my relatives is willing to spend a few bucks to read more chapters? He’s the one responsible for that one buck, for which I thank him.

 Amazon is offering 200 free tokens, which in the case of my novel takes readers through chapter nine. It might help if they went back to their original plan of offering three free episodes to entice readers. Because of those two hundred fee tokens, they’re not getting their cut and I’m not getting mine.

As far as I can tell, Amazon is doing little to promote Vella stories. The Vella banner does not automatically show up whenever someone visits their site. Readers have to know to click on the drop-down menu and scroll to Kindle Store; not everyone knows Vella books can be found in the Kindle store. If potential readers are not looking for a particular author or title, they need to just hit “enter” and thumbnail cover illustrations in their little circles will pops up. Some of the stories have star ratings, others do not. On the far right side, “see more” shows in a tiny font. You can get a list view or a grid view of titles Big deal. Writers have to educate their readers. One person on Facebook wanted to read my story; he couldn’t find it, so I sent him the link.

A screen shot of Vella instructions for readers. I couldn’t find it again. The site’s not exactly user friendly.

I have the Vella page bookmarked. It shows favorite stories and trending stories. I don’t remember how I got there. That’s why I bookmarked it; I knew I wouldn’t remember. 

Self-publishing on any platform requires the writer to promote like mad or to pay retail juggernaut Amazon to do it for them. That goes for KDP, too. I don’t know if Amzon expects payments in order to promote Vella books. I could also create a Facebook page for A Home for an Exile’s Heart. The page would be free, but people would only find it if they happened to stumble on it. Facebook would be glad to “boost” the page for me, but since Zuekcerberg must be broke, I’d have to pay to get my page “boosted.” I think it’s thirty dollars to boost a page, but don’t know if that’s monthly or for a year or what.

I’ve done only a little promoting. Writing about my novel here is one way to publicize it. My Word Press account is linked to Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. I can click on the “F” icon on my Word Press page to share my post on Facebook. I haven’t succeed in linking it.

 Because my heroine is a Latvian World War II refugee, I’ve also posted links in several Latvian Facebook groups. People have congratulated me and clicked on “like” but seemingly no one cares enough to read even free chapters. Those who’ve read my chapters haven’t given Exile a thumbs up. I may have to post the link again with the screenshot.

I’m not sure it would be worth the money to pay Facebook to boost a page dedicated to my novel.

Maybe Exile doesn’t belong on Vella in the first place. There are no categories for women’s fiction or mainstream fiction. None of my characters are billionaires, Highlanders, or werewolves. Exile’s not paranormal, a fantasy, or a mystery. The Latvian refugee and the dashing fighter pilot live in non-dystopian Seattle in 1952. It didn’t even have the Space Needle back then.

What next? I guess I’ll leave A Home for an Exile’s Heart on Vella for the time being, but I will not publish any more chapters. I have no reason to. And I’ll go back to querying agents.

BUT, depressing as it was to report this stuff about Vella, it was writing. Writing is what I do. I feel better for having written.

6 thoughts on “Vella: 132K Words=$1”

  1. I empathize, Dace. Self-promo is a royal pain, and if the platform is problematic too, the pain is doubled, tripled, quadrupled. I don’t have a smart phone or a Kindle and I can’t even get my Kindle for PC to work anymore despite multiple tries and tech assistance from Amazon. Otherwise, I’d read your book on Vella–that is, if I could figure out how to do it! Sounds weirdly complicated. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not so much complicated as incompetent. And stupid. Slapdash. My favorite browser has been doing stupid stuff for a while now. That may be your problem with your Kindle for PC. I added the Chrome browser and it works better for a lot of things. You might give it or another browser a try. Thanks for your comments and for being willing to read my novel, if only it were possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This would discourage me from publishing on Vella. Promoting one’s book or self is about the last thing a writer wants to do. We are a quiet, unassuming group, we writers are.


    1. Traditional publishers also expect writers to promote their books. I get email newsletters from Michael Connolly and John Grisham’s PR staff. The big names probably still go on talk shows. You look at agents’ guidelines and you’ll see that many of them expect writers to have a social media platform. Even Dickens went on book tours.


  3. Thanks for writing about your experience with Vella, Dace. I wondered if it was targeted to people who read books on their phones (short attention spans?), and that seems to be the case. I can’t imagine doing that, can you? Sorry it isn’t working out as you’d hoped.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, Sandy. I’m glad you found it worth reading. Yep, I think it was iOs and their computer. The minimum word count is 600, the max is 5k, so not that short. I divided a couple of my chapters into two. No, I can’t imagine it either. I like real books. Oh, well, c’est la writing vie. Thanks for reading and commenting.


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