Kindle Vella, Wattpad– these are two of the largest Serialization Storytelling Platforms available. But what does that mean, and are they worth checking out?
What are Serialization Storytelling Platforms?
Serialization. It’s defined as the process of breaking down a larger object into bite-sized pieces. And it’s becoming more prevalent than ever in the entertainment industry. Think of it– narrative podcast episodes, TV mini-series streaming, and of course it’s also hit storytelling! We now have authors dropping chapters or series episodes for readers to devour and build up anticipation for the next installment. And why not? Serialization Storytelling Platforms are not entirely new– Charles Dickens was famous for publishing this way.
Studies have shown serialization leads to reader loyalty and interest. And our current society trends lend itself to this style of publishing/reading. Scrolling through and reading in short micro-break moments when we have a spare second. So, is this the wave of the future? Should we be looking into these platforms? If so, which ones should we try?
Let’s take a look at some of these serialization storytelling platforms below.
One thing to note, these are just two of the big name options out there. There are MANY more! Some options focus on just one specific genre, others have subscription models. Definitely do a deep dive on Google yourself if you’re interested!
Wattpad is a user-contributed fiction platform. It’s equated to the Youtube of the writing industry and is one of the original online serialization platforms. This means writers can upload anything– short stories, fan fiction, pre-released chapters etc. and share it with the world.
Wattpad is free for all users, so that means writers are giving away their work for free. Great for readers, but one would question– does this benefit authors?
Well, it needs to be viewed as a social media site experience. Users are primarily readers, or else why would they be there searching for material? So, authors should consider it an opportunity to entice and gain followers.
Wattpad is built for the serialization format.Wattpad has made it impossible to upload an actual finished book in one single file. So, it must be uploaded and released in a chapter by chapter format. Readers can then favorite and follow an author and get an email sent to them when a new chapter is uploaded.
A word of caution– feedback I’ve found has said authors do need to be prepared to give away a full free book for best results. Just offering a few chapters leads to resentment as readers tend to view it as a paywall or bait and switch tactic. However, authors have said that at the bottom of their chapters they’ve linked to other published work for sale and hopefully readers will go ahead and purchase if they’ve become invested.
Overall thoughts? This is a definite long game option for authors. Could it work? Yes. However, it can take a long time and an investment of effort. But many authors claim they’ve found success with it and it has affected sales and gained them followers. One strategy mentioned has also been to consider using Wattpad as a beta reading process and then take their work down and publish as a full book after.
Readers- Why not? It’s free for you to get exposed to TONS of new authors. And if you’re interested in the writing process, you can follow and participate in the editing process of an author’s new project. You do need to keep an open mind though as some work might be more polished than others. I’d say try it out and see what you think!
Kindle Vella is Amazon’s version of Wattpad. It is similar, but different. For one, it is not entirely free like Wattpad. And an important thing for authors to know– there is a commitment of exclusivity to Kindle Vella unlike with Wattpad.
If you go to the Kindle Vella website, you’ll see that the first few episodes (chapters) of any Kindle Vella story are free. However, after that a reader has to buy and use tokens to release the rest of the story.
Feedback on this structure and application has been mixed. Readers get frustrated that it basically is a paywall. And authors have some behind the scenes things to consider as well.
One, Kindle Vella does pay the authors. Yay! Authors can expect to see 50% of the royalties. But, the price of a story varies depending on word count. For example, a 2,000 word story might cost 20 tokens while a 10,000 word story costs 100. Also, tokens vary in price depending how many a reader buys at a time. Right now, it costs readers about $1.99 to buy 200 tokens for about 20,000 words and $9.99 to buy 1,100 tokens for about 110,000 words. With that pricing an author could hypothetically make about $1 a read for 20,000 words. Not awful– do-able for readers and pretty fair for authors.
But Amazon reserves the right to change the price of tokens at any time. They could easily lower the cost of tokens which would benefit readers, but influence the author’s revenue.
Also Amazon periodically offers free token offers to entice readers to join the program. Yay, for readers, but authors then get no revenue for free token reads.
One other difference between these two serialization storytelling platforms is the level of interaction between readers and authors. Both authors and readers love Wattpad because of the ability to leave comments and build a community. Authors view it as a free beta reading experience– you get firsthand reader’s feedback on the story as it’s unfolding. They can tweak and change things as they go if they see readers are experiencing strong reactions to something in the story. And readers love it because they get to feel that connection to the author and that their voice can be heard.
Kindle Vella does offer it’s own opportunities for feedback like liking and following a favorite author. Readers can also leave story crowns for their favorite story of the week which are then displayed in search results. Authors can also leave notes at the end of an episode including polls where readers can vote on particular things like which character is their favorite or what plot event should happen next.
So one would argue, community can still be built between readers and authors, just in a more structured, formal way.
One of the biggest differences authors must keep in mind with Kindle Vella is that they must wait to publish their finished work in a novel format for a period of time after it is posted. There are also limitations as to how they can publish after. Like it MUST go into the Kindle Unlimited Store! And you must wait 60 days for your content to be removed from the Kindle Vella Store.
Overall thoughts? Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about Kindle Vella. For readers, there is a wide selection of content. If you’re already accustomed to using the Kindle app– you’ll find the format and store quite similar. I think in terms of value, you’re obviously can’t beat the free option with Wattpad, but as an author I love the idea of supporting the creator of the fiction you’re consuming. 🙂
For authors, I think it really depends what your plans are for after completion. If you don’t mind taking your time going wide (aka, to other vendors besides Amazon) it definitely could be worth trying.