Steve Dent is an associate editor at Engadget.
As it promised last month, Amazon has launched its serialized fiction Kindle Vella store that lets you unlock episodic, self-published stories via in-app purchases. The new platform is a way for readers to discover new fiction and a new way for authors to generate revenue from the Kindle Direct Publishing service.
While the name might suggest otherwise, Kindle Vella isn’t available on Amazon’s Kindle e-readers. Rather, you’ll only find it on Amazon.com or the Kindle iOS app (no Android for now). To start with, the service will be limited to US-based authors who publish stories in English.
The serialized stories will run from 600 to 5,000 words per episode, with the first three offered for free. To see subsequent episodes, you’ll need to pay for “tokens,” with prices ranging from $2 for 200 tokens up to $15 for 1,700 tokens. The latter will give you about 34 episodes, though prices per episode depend on the word count — the more words, the more you’ll have to spend.
Authors, meanwhile, will receive 50 percent of the revenue along with bonuses based on engagement with the app’s social media-style features. To that end, readers can follow stories to be notified of new episodes, leave a thumbs up for episodes they like, apply a “Fave” for their favorite story of the week (provided they purchase tokens), and share on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. To boost engagement, authors can speak directly to readers at the end of episodes to “share story insights and behind-the-scenes content,” Amazon wrote.
Since Amazon opened Vella to authors three months ago, “thousands of authors” have published “tens of thousands of Kindle Vella episodes across dozens of genres and microgenre,” Amazon said. Authors appear to be interested as well. “I’ve published close to 30 novels, and I’m enjoying the adventure of writing The Marriage Auction in this new format,” said bestselling author Audrey Carlan in a statement. Whether or not the format takes off now depends on readers — to try it out, you can access Vella here.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.