Amazon is debuting a new program: Vella. It’s not yet open to readers. Instead, Amazon is focusing on writers so there’s product there for readers to, you know, read when the program opens up.
If you didn’t click the link, the basic idea is that on Vella, authors will post episodic fiction. Each episode will be 600-5000 words, and the stories will be formatted to be read on mobile devices. The first three episodes of each story will be free, and then reader may purchase tokens to unlock each next episode.
Honestly, I think it’s a neat concept, and apparently there are several sites already that make the idea work. For me it has the feel of the old pulp serials which I still enjoy.
But now comes the question for me as an author: Should I put effort into a new, untried platform?
Amazon is being relatively up-front about what an author can expect to receive for each read-through. The pay is comparable to those other sites. The rules about posting make sense to me. I love the idea of serial fiction.
But I’m also working my butt off with other writing projects. This would be adding one more thing. Do I have one more thing in me?
As an author, how do you decide where to put your effort?
Each writer needs to answer that question for themselves. Is the goal to publish your dream project? Are you looking for supplemental income? Are you depending on your writing to support your family? Where you put in your effort will vary depending what your goal is. After all, if your goal is to publish your dream project, that’s what you should be working on!
What’s my goal?
I’m attempting to work toward supporting my family with my writing. In other words, my goal really is income.
Some of you reading may scowl at that. “Let art exist for the sake of art!” Well, to a point, that’s true, but even starving artists need to eat sometime!
That said, I’m still in control of what I’m writing. I’m not selling my soul to plod out formulaic fiction (at least I don’t think so)! I’m writing what I want to write and then looking for ways to monetize that. Hopefully others think it’s worth paying for. Given my publishing credentials at this point, it looks that at least some people do think it’s worth paying for!
Which brings us back to Vella. Is it worth my time, if my goal is getting enough income for my family?
Simply put, I don’t know and I can’t know. The platform isn’t even accessible to readers yet. Vella could take off and be a huge boon to writers. If that happens, it’ll be helpful to be in on the ground floor! On the other hand, it could be a digital ghost town that Amazon shuts down in a couple of months. Again, there’s no way to know. Not yet.
So, do I gamble? In some ways, any time I submit a story to a publisher it’s a gamble. At the very least, I’m gambling the time the story sits at that publisher until I hear back one way or another. This would be just one more gamble.
And this is what I’ve decided about Vella:
I’m going to give it a try. I’ve got a novella that’s not seen the light of day. Each chapter feels like a serial episode. I don’t think I’ll ever find a publishing home for the novella, so why not try here? I’m not spending time writing it. I merely need to reformat it. Work, sure, but not a lot.
I’ll keep an eye on that novella. Once the site is live, if people are reading it, well, I’ll feed more stories to Vella. If no one reads it, I’ve wasted very little on the gamble.
And that’s the plan at this point, and that’s why I’ve decided to invest some effort into a new platform.
Once it’s live, I’ll let y’all know and you can decide if it’s worth your time to read it!