By Margaret Mills
I recently started a story in Kindle Vella, the serial publication platform of Kindle Direct Publishing that launched in 2021. Writers publish their story in episodes with the first three being free to readers. After that your fans pay to unlock each episode. Publishing in serial form is not new, of course. Charles Dickens did, although the internet adds a level of sophistication not available in his time.
My writing career has been varied. I’m in my sixth decade of writing now. I was first published when I was eleven years old, on the children’s page of a regional magazine, and paid a dollar for my short story. That got my attention – writing plus money - and I went on to submit more, enter contests and even wrote a column for my tiny hometown newspaper before I was out of high school. With a major in English but the teaching career not panning out, I started writing for the religious market as a young wife and mother.
I began writing as an adult on an old electric typewriter and used carbon paper for copies. When the first word processors were developed, I jumped on that: no more correction fluid. In six decades, the writing world has changed: computers, the internet, self-publishing. My main writing now is a blog that involves historical research, with plans to publish a series of books based on the blog, all in the Christian genre.
So why did I publish in Vella? It is designed for those who want to read short episodes on their phones and the most popular genres appear to be romance, and sword and sorcery, or at least stories featuring elves, witches, and wolves. Some authors have created seasons and just keep the story going.
For me, it was a way to get some eyes on my more “experimental” work. For those with a fan base already, Vella is ideal. Since I was dipping my toes into fantasy/time travel, I didn’t have that. My marketing strategy was hoping my grandchildren would tell their friends. However, I like the structure of regular short episodes (1200 words is best I’m told, although episodes can be 600 to 5000 words). I set myself to publish a new episode on Tuesdays and Fridays, which works well to push this writer to finish the book. It’s best to have your story as nearly done as possible, as there are instances of readers being left in the lurch. Mine was well along and I know how it ends, but having that structure brings much-needed discipline.
Vella is not for everyone, but for new writers who need the encouragement of a “thumbs up,” or the discipline of a publication schedule, it has something to offer - as it does for old writers who just want to try something new.
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Standing in the Gap for Oregon, and dabbles in fiction. More information can be found at www.writtenbymargaret.com, and her latest venture into fiction can be read at Taking the Waters | Kindle Vella (amazon.com)
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