My journey with Kindle Scout began last year in October. I had completed my first novel, Housebroken, earlier that year, after what seemed like a never ending revolution of drafts, but had yet to determine what I wanted to do with it. Timing was fortuitous it seems as I learned about the Kindle Scout program, a hybrid publishing platform that relied on readers to vote for books they felt deserving of a publishing contract. I had the book, didn’t have a publishing plan, but felt like this might be a “way in.” Or at least a fun experiment.
Once your book is submitted and then accepted to be a part of the program, you have a 30 day campaign. Ask any Kindle Scout Winner, it’s a stressful 30 days. Somehow you have to manage to keep your book on Amazon’s radar by maintaining votes consistently throughout the month. This puts your book up at the top on the “Hot & Trending” list. But no matter who you are, we all only have so many friends or family members willing to click on something to help you (after much begging). The rest really comes down to the quality of your writing (a sample of your novel is included on the Kindle Scout website), your book cover and your premise, both of which need to grab a viewer’s attention. I have a post on how to prepare for a successful Kindle Scout campaign, highlighting a few of the things that helped along the way.
Two or three days later, you get the notice from Amazon. Your book was either chosen for publication or passed on, and not every book that is Hot & Trending is chosen. Quite a few books that I have nominated have not been chosen for publication, although the writing was excellent and the premise was something I would definitely choose to read.
Upon selection you have a few months working with Amazon and the Kindle Scout Team, then all is quiet. Until you’re notified that your book is going up for Pre-Order. Then the nerves start coming back.
- Will the book be well-received?
- What does Amazon expect performance-wise?
- How much will Amazon be able to “influence” sales through their internal marketing efforts?
After two and a half months of my book finally entering the world, I may not have answers to these questions, but I can certainly answer the question:
Is Kindle Scout Worth It for a Debut Author?
There’s no doubt that my book’s visibility has been heightened through being published by an Amazon imprint. I follow a lot of independent authors online, trying to determine what to expect with a debut novel. It’s not pretty. There are always break-out novelists and authors who rise above the trends but its far from the norm. While I wouldn’t consider my novel a “break-out” success, there’s no doubt that it’s been successful. I’ve stayed in the top 100 for Horror – Suspense since it’s release and after a month and a half have almost earned out my advance. I’m optimistic of where things will go from here.
The community of those authors who have been selected through Kindle Scout is absolutely incredible. We’re a very dysfunctional family, but in all of the endearing ways. For a debut author, I now have a growing number of experts who are more than willing to open up about their experiences and share their knowledge, something which is not easily attained. I’m grateful for their acceptance and help along this windy path of authorship.
Now not every book has been received the same way. Some are unfortunately struggling to find their right audience while others have been wildly successful, even breaking into the coveted Top 1000 books on Amazon. Sariah Wilson, who published Royal Date through Kindle Press, recently signed a contract with Amazon’s imprint, Montlake Romance for a 2 book deal. Would she have had this opportunity without submitting to Kindle Scout? Probably not.
What will the future hold as Amazon begins creating audiobooks out of the Kindle Scout selections or as the database of Kindle Scout readers continues to grow? Will crowd-sourced platforms be recognized as a medium to validate the quality of what otherwise might be self-published works? Will Amazon invent a machine to read to you while you sleep, infusing your dreams with what’s happening with the story?
Again, I’m not sure, but I’m glad I was invited to the party. At the very least, it’s a fun experiment.