Kindle Vella is Amazon’s serial fiction service–kind of like Netflix for books. Authors write episodes and publish them whenever they want, either all at once or periodically. For readers, the first three episodes are free and if you want to read more, you have to buy Kindle Vella tokens and spend them on the following episodes at a price based on word count. It’s an interesting idea and I was one of the early users. I published the first few chapters of my new military science fiction story, ADVISOR, as a Kindle Vella series last summer. Partly because I was new to self-marketing and partly because Kindle Vella was new to everybody, I didn’t get much traction. I eventually saw ADVISOR as part of a broader series of science fiction stories that I thought worked better as books, and I pulled it from Kindle Vella. In rethinking how to use Kindle Vella, I went back to a concept I’ve been tinkering with for a year or so: romance.
It turns out that romance is the highest selling genre by a wide margin. I never thought of myself as a romance writer, but as a perpetual romantic and lover of romcoms, I thought I would give it a go. “Write what you know” is the oft-touted advice of successful writers. As a Marine combat veteran, I feel like I know quite a bit about military life. In particular, my background in special mission units (or, SMUs), could set the stage for a fantastic world where soldiers and civilians could get into all sorts of romantic entanglements with a cast that rotates with deployments and reassignments. As I fleshed out my idea, I built an imaginary SMU base on a remote real-life Georgia coastal island near Savannah. I’ve drawn maps, captured images, and created all sorts of names. It turns out, this island has actually been used as a writer’s retreat. I take that as a great sign!
Romance and Kindle Vella go together like chocolate-covered strawberries and prosecco. I think the platform lends itself to romance in particular. The episodic nature makes it read like a mini-series or telenovela. So, if you’ve ever entertained the idea of writing romance (in any of the thousands of sub-genres), consider using Kindle Vella as your platform. The pricing varies and is directly correlated to your word count, so you have to hit the right balance between readability and revenue. But if you do it right, it could be a lucrative (and fun) addition to your writing catalog.
Last year, Amazon released a beta version of hardcover publishing for indie authors. I kept it in the back of my mind as I prepared to relaunch my writing career in 2022. My current business model is to launch with Amazon Kindle versions of my stories and then release a hardcover version a few months later, followed by a paperback version a few months after that. Formatting for hardcover is very similar to formatting for paperback, so it’s not too challenging for experienced indie authors. My only issue is that in writing shorter fiction (I’m focusing on 15-20k word novella lengths at the moment), it’s hard to meet the technical requirements for both hardcover and paperback. In particular, the spine tends to disappear on the books I’m publishing. In order to counteract that issue, I’m experimenting with font sizes and line spacing. While I don’t want to give the book a young adult or eyesight impaired feel, I do want to make sure the finished product looks like a real book. I got an author’s copy of VODOU PRINCESS, my 2022 career relaunch debut story, in hardcover recently and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. The font isn’t too large and the spine works well. The story is about 28k words and it comes out to just under 140 printed pages, which I think is a great length for a fast read. I’ll probably use the author copy as a reader giveaway in the future, but it gave me some great insight into how to make a hardcover out of a shorter-than-novel book-length.
The following is a scene from my first science fiction story, ADVISOR. It’s a moment of reflection for the protagonist, Chief Warrant Officer Rave Dekko. ADVISOR will be released next Tuesday on Amazon Kindle, so be sure to go look for it. Go here to listen and I hope you enjoy the reading!