A New Venue – Amazon’s KDP Vella


Recently, KDP announced a new story platform, named Vella, for writers to reach mobile readers. The concept couples simplicity with ease of vetted publishing. It also allows the writer to experiment in unknown territories, gather in new audiences, and release some of those forgotten writing projects left for so long on a back burner.

Rules of Vella’s Platform

To take advantage of this interesting new opportunity, it’s easiest to read the rules. There aren’t that many.

  1.  All stories are episodic. Short bursts of story, published on a regular schedule until the story ends.
  2.  All episodes must range from no less than 600 to no more than 5000 words.
  3.  Fiction genres are all-inclusive. Non-fiction and creative non-fiction are also allowed.
  4.  It’s recommended that the writer have four to five episodes ready to go before uploading the first one. (I read this to mean that by doing so, the writer isn’t scrambling to have an episode ready on the next scheduled upload day.)
  5.  The writer chooses the publishing schedule that suits her//him. For instance, for my present story, “Devil’s in the Details”, I chose to upload an episode every other day. On my calendar, it means every odd-numbered day of the month.

I chose this knowing each episode would be short (600-1500 words on average). I didn’t want to give any reader too much time between episodes to find something different to read and forget mine.

  •  The number of episodes or length of story is at the writer’s discretion. Only the writer knows when a story is finished.
  •  A description of the story is required. One must choose keywords from the story and choose categories of genre for placement of story.
  •  An image possessing some relation to the story is highly-recommended in the development of the story’s platform profile. The writer will be asked to upload that image. Think of it as a visual bookmark, both for you when looking in your Vella library of stories, and for the mobile reader when she/he’s looking for your next episode on a mobile device.
  •  There is no rule that states a writer can only run one story at a time. If you want to run two or more stories simultaneously, I’ve found no rule that prohibits it. If one chooses to do that, know that your writing time must be rigorously monitored and scheduled for uploading. Otherwise, you’ll exhaust yourself unduly. (This is my advice—not stated in rules.)
  •  At the end of each episode is a space for author’s note. This is where you can talk directly to the reader. Share tid-bits about the story’s origin, a character’s backstory or provide a teaser about an upcoming episode. Ask for feedback and comments. What did the reader like/dislike? Did something confuse them? Whatever. Share a bit about yourself. It’s up to the author. You have only so much space to use, but it’s valuable acreage.
  • Also, if down the line you choose to edit an episode, you can do that. Feel free.
  • Not in rules but my own take on things. Use this opportunity to enlarge your existing audience and to engage a new one. Experiment. Have fun. While you will earn a bit of money with each episode downloaded, you gain much more in exposure and freedom of expression. Enjoy it. Tip: for all those memoirists out there. Here’s a platform for all those funny stories from your childhood that still crack you up. Surely you have at least ten or more of those. Plant one out there in Vella’s garden a couple times a week and see what grows.  Just a thought.

Payment and Reward

Payment is best described as interesting. Like all writing it depends on readership and downloads. Readers buy bundles of tokens. Each episode (after the compulsory first free three) is given a token price by Vella. All such values are based solely on word count. Token values and word count go through an algorithm which computes the royalty shared with the writer. The process is explained fully by the Learn More button.

Afterthoughts and Conclusions

Will you get rich? Well, that depends on things such as how many readers you can attract with your writing and how often you upload episodes.

I didn’t do this for money. I did it to rid myself of all those haunting stories lying fallow in the recesses of my hard drive. Now, I can share them, enjoy the process of getting them out, and make a few dollars from things left unread for too long.

That will satisfy me.

I hope everyone will at least look at the venue and gauge whether it will benefit them in some way. Advertising is advised. Me? I’m going to post to my website, my blog, my media outlets and all the write’s groups in which I’m a member.

For those who wish to discover more, here’s a link to the KDP Vella main page.


And if you’d like to check out my first episode, it’s free.   https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/product/B098XGD7VX

Happy writing, everyone.

Mining for Market Gems

By Claudette Young

Rabbit Holes Can Be Your Best Friend

Down amidst the realm of earthly writers lives a large White Rabbit. His sole purpose seems to be enticing unwary wordsmiths to join him in underground, pointless sojourns where distraction and wasted time abound and fruitful futures can be lost.

A well-trained and disciplined writer can ignore this rake of an adventurer and remain on point. Such discipline is applauded by fellow panderers of firmly grounded participles.

Yet, could such firm determination cost more than any small bit of temporary distraction?

Finding Gems in Underground tunnels

For anyone seeking subjects for articles, essays, short stories, or for added interest in novels, a gem here or there could solve problems and stoke the fires of potential. Rabbit holes can hold gems of all sizes—some polished and ready for mounting in a shiny new piece of written jewelry.

If a subject holds interest for the writer, allow the time to pursue jewels. Others will be interested in the same subject.

A question about sleeping accommodations on a yacht, for instance, affords many possible articles, comparative essays or even stories.

  1. How many and what types of cabins are possible on a forty-foot yacht?
  2. How luxurious are those cabins?
  3. Do they each have a private head/bathroom?
  4. How many people can the cabins host?
  5. How does the use of the yacht affect the number of cabins needed on such a boat and why does it matter?

Okay, so here are five legitimate subject questions. They can create the basis for work, either long or short, according to the depth of interest and the potential market desired.

But what else could you garner from available information?

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. What are the criteria for classification as a yacht—length, tonnage, accommodations, power plant, captaincy, etc.?
  2. What is the current largest yacht sailing today?
  3. What types of people own and sail on yachts?
  4. Where are most yachts built and why?
  5. Are many yachts used for commercial purposes (i.e., deep-sea fishing excursions, scuba exploration on reefs, etc.)?

The five possibilities above take a deeper look into the subject of these private boats. They also each have different possible markets.

The first could be used for a boating magazine aimed at the average lakeside weekend warrior who’s always wanted/dreamed of piloting such a craft across the open water. Sort of like the car enthusiast who fantasizes about dune buggies and adequate sand hills.

The second, third, and fourth could easily fit into a filler piece for children. A longer geography story also has possibilities for social studies education.

Number four also lends itself to the world traveler. On a trip to Taiwan, for instance, the traveler could call or stop in at one of several ship yards and perhaps get a tour of the facility. Something different in an otherwise uninspired stop-over.

The last inquiry holds little surprise for anyone really. Think of Magnum’s friend, Rick. While he managed a resort bar and restaurant, Rick also took guests out for deep-sea fishing jaunts as part of the resort service. That boat was a yacht, btw—trawler style. Many are used for this purpose. The service helps pay for both boat and upkeep, which aren’t cheap.

Taking Away a Bonus

One question can bring about an avalanche of future work. It’s up to the writer to pick and choose among the gems. Some will never find a new home on the page. Others will sparkle and cast their charm through the printed word.

The bonus received by the writer lasts a lifetime. The gems gathered and sprinkled through pages will have inspired others who don’t forget the source. The gems also reflect on the flexibility and creativity of their miner. With that reflection comes admiration and professional recognition.

Not a bad benefit for a bit of adventure in that White Rabbit’s warren.

Rabbit Holes and the Alice Effect


Temptation Leads to Distraction

A big white rabbit confronts you with a new interesting prospect, question, shiny fact. He crooks his paw in a way begging you to follow his lead. The Alice side of your personality shrieks with delight, claps her little hands together and takes an eager plunge down the rabbit hole.

Sound familiar?

All writers have leapt into that dark tunnel of distraction in times past.  You might say the activity hovers at the edge of our conscious minds at all times. Writers possess an innate curiosity to learn about new things, places, people and events. Curiosity may not kill the writer, but the distraction from work already in progress can seem damaging at times.

One might ask why we eagerly allow ourselves the adventure of the rabbit hole. Why can’t we pull ourselves up short and deny the fascination? How can we possibly waste so much valuable writing time on meaningless trivia?

Curiosity vs. Creativity

After a trip with our friend the White Rabbit, do you find yourself energized and ready to begin a new project immediately? Some do. Or, the newly garnered information might set your heart pounding about a fantastic subtle subplot to spark new life into that novel you’ve been shirking for months because staleness had settled on the pages. That, too, has possibilities.

Many writers find new information stimulating and useful. What could pass for distraction might actually form additional depth to a story. A tiny detail unearthed can provide a hitherto unrecognized clue to a puzzle/mystery.

Insights gained during the underground adventure may set the writer onto a path not only unexpected but profitable.

For instance, an odd creature unknown to the average person becomes the focus of a children’s book about the unimaginable creatures that share our planet (i.e., the immortal jellyfish, the sea slug that feeds through photosynthesis or the monogamous sea horse).

Taking Advantage of Distraction

Just because you turned away from your current project and are now pursuing a line of inquiry unrelated to it, all is not lost. You have an opportunity to take advantage of your unplanned research. Take fifteen or twenty minutes to:

  1. Take note of every item that piques your interest.
  2.  Jot down relevancies and put question marks where you’d like to learn more.
  3. Take a moment to contemplate what you could do with the information–essay, short story, informational article, etc.
  4.  Speculate where you could market it—trade mags, regional mags, short books, etc.
  5. Ask yourself how many possible angles you could derive from the information.
  6.  How much additional information may be needed for multiple angles/markets?
  7.  Decide whether the effort would be worth the time spent on these new projects.

Ignore the Rabbit Hole

     Your current project has called you back on no uncertain terms. Perhaps your deadline looms large and ugly. No harm, no foul. You didn’t abandon it, only took a temporary leave of absence.

     Finish the current project. Put your best effort into it. Take adequate time to rewrite and edit. Submit it to your most promising market, publisher or agent. And when the dust settles, turn your attention back to the future.

Time for Exploration Again

     Now, pull out those notes you just made from that rabbit hole. You found enough interest once in the subject. You have something to fill a void of writing time and projects. Use it.

     Your research has begun already. You have ideas, potential markets and audiences. You have many directions for pursuit.

     Indulge yourself. Have fun. Put on your Alice apron, tie a ribbon in your hair and go looking for that big White Rabbit. Put your hand in his and take a leap into the warren of possibilities.

     After all, why would you want to deny yourself an adventure?

August Book News

New from Lise McClendon!

A new Bennett Sisters Mystery arrived at the end of July from Montana author Lise McClendon, a sequel to her original trilogy “Birds of a Feather” Here is the publisher’s description:

A wintry Welsh evening. A house full of relatives, hangers-on, and malcontents. A British/French family hosts Elise Bennett, and gets the extra benefit of two of her sisters. Will Twelfth Night ever arrive for these revelers? A holiday to remember… and forget.

When Elise Bennett, youngest of the five sisters, is invited to spend the long holiday break with her new boyfriend, Conor (from ‘Lost in Lavender’) she is thrilled. Who wouldn’t be? A remote Welsh manor house, a chance to mix with the clan, long walks on the snowy hillsides– but things are not so simple in the countryside. Not with this family.

Conor’s brother, Duncan, misbehaves toward Elise, causing two of her sisters to rush in with emotional reinforcements. Then an undesirable French relative arrives, with an entourage. A house that already feels crowded is now bursting with intrigue, day-drinking, bird shoots, and so much cooking. And whining about cooking. When a death breaks the monotony in the kitchen, no one is relieved. Because, at this point, they are all suspects.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER was originally published in three parts: Swan & Peacock, Crazy as a Loon, and Fly the Nest. Read it now as one novel in this compilation, buy the paperback, or listen to the audiobook now available. Available at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ynTasY

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Seriously, how did it get to be August already? I’m as puzzled as you are! I’m also delighted to tell you I’ll be at the Bigfork Festival of the Arts this year, Sat-Sun, August 7-8, in the village of Bigfork, with all my books! I’ve got THREE new books — also hard to believe — since I last participated, in 2019: The Solace of Bay Leaves, the 5th Spice Shop mystery, Carried to the Grave and Other Stories, the 6th Food Lovers’ Village mystery, and Bitterroot Lake, my suspense debut. I hope to see you there, celebrating the artistic bounty of this most beautiful place we call home!