I recently finished my latest murder/investigation story, "In The Marsh." It tells the story of a woman who left a New Year's Eve party, and was never seen alive again. It is currently available in ebook format and in paperback. The five + hour Audible version is almost done.
I'm more than a little miffed about a low rating that title received. I contacted Amazon and they verified that the clown that gave the story a low rating never bought the story, but they won't remove it. Life goes on.
I’m 32,000 words into a story titled, “I Hate My Mother.” It’s going to be a tough read for some people. The title is one that may shock you, but for most of my life, it was the truth. My mom heavily abused me as a child, and this story, currently only available as a Vella project, is as true as I can make it.
It is being well received on Vella, and after taking eleven months to get it going, it is pouring itself onto the pages every day. I genuinely hope to rid myself of the things I have kept locked up for decades and leave everything on the pages.
Vella? Well, Vella to You, Too!
I’ve discovered a new way to bring my writing to my readers in a faster, steadier format. I started posting a single story in January 2021 on a then brand-new platform. My writing time hadn’t yet fallen into a steady rhythm after I moved to Florida. I had heard of the new program, but there was very little information or people with any experience to guide newbies.
Curiosity got the better of me, so I checked it out. I have an extensive background in HTML and many of my old websites were JOOMLA! based, so I was sure I could figure it out. I’m the first to criticize the “Big A” for a lot of stuff, but they got it right with Vella. The publishing interface is very easy to use and requires no special knowledge or expertise.
Specifically designed to be used on your cellphone, Kindle, or even your laptop or desk computer, Amazon’s new publishing service is becoming THE way to go for the independent writer. It acts just like the weekly and monthly magazines used to do. Everything goes up in “episode” format of 600 to 5000 words each. This allows readers who don’t have a lot of time to catch up on your story at their leisure.
It’s easy to get started. All you do is visit this page to find your genre. The first few weeks, content was limited. Today? If you want to read it, you can find it in a Vella format. The first three episodes of every Vella story are free. You just find a title that interests you, and click on it. It costs you nothing until you get to the fourth episode of the story. By that time, you should have a good idea if the story is something you are going to want to keep reading.
Starting with the fourth episode, you must buy “credits” from Amazon. If you are an occasional reader, you can buy as few as 200 credits, which are currently selling for $1.99. They also come as a pack of 525 credits for $4.99, 1100 credits for $9.99, or if you are a serious reader, grab the pack of 1700 credits for a mere $14.99! You can buy the credits here. From there on out, you find a story you like and get some place comfy to read.
For the Writers
In case you are wondering, “Do I need to be an accomplished author to do this?” Nope. Hey, they let me use it, so why not you?
You don’t even need to hire someone to do a cover for you. Just find a JPG or TIFF photo or art that measures 1600 x 1600 pixels and less than two mg in size, and upload it. The interface places your title and name on top of the photo, and there ya go. You will also need to add up to seven “tags” that call attention to your story by genre or topic.
To get started, visit the Vella page on KDP by clicking here. Fill out the requested information, and you can have your page set up in less than twenty minutes for a newbie, and a pro with several stories like I have can do it in less than five to ten minutes if you have everything assembled and ready to go.
Once you have all the information slots filled, including a short outline of what your story will be about, be sure to SAVE your project. You don’t need to add any chapters yet. I like to tell it to PUBLISH your opening information. Depending how busy Amazon is, it can take anywhere for six to seventy-two hours to make a story go “live” and be found on Amazon.
If you are not quite ready to add your first episode, I would PUBLISH the placeholder, so it propagates on Amazon via its “tags.”
Publishing An Episode
When you are ready to publish your first episode, find the “MANAGE YOUR STORY” tag and open it. Now this is a trick that took me a time or two to remember. I keep each story I write in its own folder. For reasons I will explain later, make another folder inside the main folder labeled “VELLA.” Keep a running document of the story as it goes, but also keep each episode separate.
Once you are ready to add your story, click on the tag that is labeled CREATE NEW EPISODE.
First, title your episode. You can be elaborate or simply use “Chapter One.” It’s your story. Label it as you please. Once that is done, click on the link labeled, "IMPORT EPISODE TEXT." Find the folder where you keep the individual episodes, and click on it.
It will populate on your Vella management page in a few seconds. The system automatically does the initial "SAVE" function, but I always tell it to "save" for general principle.
After you save the original paste, scroll down the freshly inserted text and look for formatting issues. Nothing screams “ROOKIE!” like sizeable gaps between sentences and paragraphs. Make sure your paragraphs are where you want them and any words you might have used italics have remained italicized.
After you get all the way through the document, tell it to open the page by clicking on the OPEN PREVIEW tag. what you see there is exactly how your story will read. No matter how much you think you need to hurry, don’t skip that step.
If you have one paragraph 17 inches long and the next one is very short, see if you can balance them about a little. A long paragraph in a paperback is one thing. A long paragraph on a cellphone is another. Once you are happy with the way your story looks in the preview window, save it again.
One last thing I really like about the Vella platform is the box just below the episode text. You can run polls or ask questions. The option I most frequently will use is the ability to talk to the readers. I can give a more in-depth look at the subject of the chapter about to be published. Enter what you want to say, and then look at it in the preview form again.
Take one last look at everything. If you are happy with what you see on the page, hit the PUBLISH EPISODE button. Once you do that, you can’t touch that episode until it goes public, so make sure it is ready to go live when you click on the publish link.
You can make changes after it goes public, but those changes will take at least four to ten hours to change on the Amazon site.
I’ll have more advice on the Vella platform soon!