Why I'm Leaving Kindle Vella

Sometimes you start a new endeavor with the best intentions, but it bites you in the bootie anyway. Kindle Vella kind of did that to me. Or maybe it was user error, but either way, I’ve been bitten.

Before I dive into why I am leaving Kindle Vella, I want to take a moment to say there are so many great books and authors on the platform who are worth supporting. I have made quite a few friends, thanks to Vella. I am not trying to discourage authors from using the platform nor readers from scouring the genres for great reads.

Vella just didn’t work for me. I began my writing career on Wattpad, a highly interactive episodic release platform popular with young adults. I had amazing success there but eventually left to pursue other goals. I still have several friends I met on Wattpad who support me now, and I would not trade that time for anything. It taught me a lot about my audience and how to be a better writer. So when Amazon pitched their new platform, Kindle Vella, as something similar, I was excited!

But… Vella is nothing like those other episodic platforms. Firstly, there is very little transparency between Amazon and the authors. Our pay is not clearly stated where bonuses are concerned, and we have spent hundreds (and some even thousands) in ad revenue to drive readers to the platform. Amazon has done little to advertise or market this platform, leaving much of it to the authors. For a company as large as Amazon, I had hoped they would at least use the free tools at their disposal to market their platform.

It’s also vastly different where the reader and author interaction is concerned. Because there is none. As an author, I can add an author’s note at the end of each “episode,” but that is it. I have no idea who is following my story, no way to directly chat with them, and readers have no commenting ability. Basically, this is like reading an e-book in weekly chunks. Many people would rather binge-read a book than wait for a weekly installment when there is nothing to do in between, like chat with your favorite authors or engage with other readers. I knew going into Vella that I would need to build a new audience there, one that liked episodic platforms rather than binge-able e-books, and I was fine with that. What I am not fine with, though, is building a platform that advertises as one thing but, in reality, is something completely different. There is nothing special about Vella that makes it any better than binge-reading an e-book and emailing the author your thoughts. At least, from my viewpoint.

For some authors and readers, this works just fine. And that’s ok! I support them completely, but for me, it just… doesn’t. Maybe Wattpad spoiled me.

But what really bothers me is the content itself. I have nothing against any author who writes or reader who reads erotica, but I do take issue with erotic books with almost pornographic covers prominently displayed on the home page where even children have easy access. Sometimes the family-friendly book categories like “family” and “friendship” are filled with sex-fueled romance novels. This is not the right place for them. Visibility is essential for every author, but there are better ways of reaching this fanbase than by infiltrating “clean” keywords and/or using explicit covers. I would never dream of infiltrating “erotic” with my cozy, feel-good, squeaky clean romcoms because that’s not where they fit. It’s hijacking a genre where I don’t belong.

Since many of you come to my books for guaranteed clean and age-appropriate reading, how can I openly promote a platform that will expose you and your children to such things? Again, I am not judging anyone for writing or reading erotica. Not at all. I simply can’t market my own writing one way, build customer trust, then send my customers to a platform where the first image they will see is a book cover with a man grabbing a naked female (ahem.)

And a final issue for me is customer service. There have been many glitches on Amazon’s end that have negatively impacted authors. For example, for almost a week, episodes did not upload properly, which caused a delay in the usual schedule for many authors. Rather than publicly announce this, Amazon allowed the authors to take the heat, many earning negative reviews for “posting late” or not at all. That, in my opinion, is unfair and damaging to an author’s reputation.

In other issues, KDP staff have no idea how to manage Vella’s problems, yet that is where we are sent to report issues. Seems counterintuitive to me. Overall, for a multi-billion dollar company, this platform appears thrown together in haste and rushed out with little to no market research (which doubly chafes me because my MBA stares at me all judgy and whatnot from my office wall… cobwebs and all.) It’s marketing 101, really. Know your audience and your competition, but it seems Amazon chose to skip that vital step… or, more correctly, chose to let the authors bumble through it for them.

For those reasons, I am pulling my work from Vella and publishing it as I usually do. Per Amazon’s terms of service/use, I must leave them available for sixty days past my request to unpublish, so if you see them up there and think I’ve gone crazy, that is why. That said, if you ARE interested in reading them, they will be available until the end of May.

I know this blog post seems judgmental and negative, and for me, the Vella experience was not much fun despite decent bonuses, but it’s not all bad. Many worthy authors are sticking it out to bring you amazing stories.

As for me, stick with me here on my blog space or follow me on Instagram to see what I plan to do next. There are some SUPER cool announcements coming you won’t want to miss!

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