Amazon's Kindle Vella - A "Mid-Morten"
Amazon’s newest Kindle experiment is the serialization project called Kindle Vella. It launched (soft-launched?) in July 2021, and I decided to drop a couple of projects I had spinning around into it. Each is a good-sized tale with escalating stakes and should be a perfect fit for the episodic treatment. Stranded is from the Arcane Universe and the first in the United Series, set in groovy 1968. And Monster Zoo is a horror thrill ride, trapped inside a theme park meltdown of monumental proportions.
So … Kindle what? Vella, as in … Yeah, I give up, too.
Anyway. The gist, or so it seems, since Amazon has been even more vague and shallow about their intent for it than most everything else they keep shrouded in corporate secrecy, is to create a serialized platform tailored to phone readers (it appears?). Folks who have small chunks of time in their days, where catching up on the latest drop of a story would scratch the daily itch of someone who might prefer following along to an ongoing longform narrative to surfing through their other feeds.
After all, commuters were reading the serials of Charles Dickens many moons ago, and a lot of people have small voids in their days where this idea could be a good fit. So, it might work, especially if Amazon has already identified a large potential market share. Did they have one lined up? Primed and prepped to lure into investigating their new sub-platform of the digital reading experience. You know, a new untapped audience that wouldn’t overlap with those already comfy splashing around in the KU or physical store pools.
Who knows? Again, shrouds and all that. Where is it at now, five months later? Hard to tell, except the small smattering of promotion from Amazon has pretty much evaporated. It appears the idea was to build it and let authors (mostly from the Kindleverse) propagate it with serialized new works, only available on the new Vella experiment. Then their fans would jump at the chance of a new story that arrived in bite-sized pieces every morning or thereabouts.
Oh, and they would be able to buy each little helping (through a token and purse deal) instead of being able to consume it buffet style (Kindle Unlimited, all you can read for a monthly fee). Again, after buying a chunk of tokens (like at a county fair, minus the fried brownie batter lollipops) and handing them over a few at a time to the carny gateman. So, the consensus from the readership pulled in at the present is … what you would expect from a soft-launch with no clear-cut objective and well-rounded and reasoned approach.
With most of the work coming from authors in KU (whose other works can be read buffet style, and all in one binge-bash sitting, please) the bulk of comments streaming in have centered on why they would ever want to pay extra (beyond their monthly KU charge) in micro-payments to receive micro-installments of works from authors that are going to end up in KU down the line anyway. Which … well, yeah.
So, where is this project headed next, in the ‘Zon scheme of things? Who knows, or more like, I doubt anyone knows, especially at HQ. I threw my two projects in and then drifted off focus thanks to a hip injury that ended up in titanium and ceramic land. Sure, I was hoping the Vella team would be pushing it, and doing some heavy lifting in terms of spreading the word and getting this new pool of potential readers browsing through the entries. Mostly because I am still doing more writing than promoting to my non-existent readership base … or spending enough time working on building up that base in a way that feels organic, or at least worthwhile.
But, with my recovery and physical therapy getting me back on my rhythm, and the overhanging feeling of malaise and sap of inspiration this never-ending plague has been clobbering us with, I am inching forward to something resembling forward movement. Even if the gears are grinding blindly and steering wheel feels loosey-goosey through the turns. Onward, toward the first star on the right.
Below are my two projects over at the Kindle Vella shop. You can sample the first three episodes for free, and as an introduction/welcome from the Amazon Kindle Vella store, they will even fill your purse with the first handful of tokens for free, just click on the little key that says FREE tokens. Yes, more free episodes to get you hooked on these stories. And you never know, this format may work for you! Anyways, I'm planning to resume uploading new episodes in the next few weeks, and try some things around the social media sphere to see if I can get a few people interested in these stories. We'll see what happens, but there will be cool drama, one episode at a time, and some very cool foodie stuff I'm cooking up as well ... (literally!)