If you’ve never heard of Kindle Scout, don’t feel bad. Until last week, I hadn’t heard of it either, but it’s shaping up to be a game changer for indie authors, as well as traditionally published authors who have a book they just can’t sell, like my unpublished novel SILK (above). SILK is book one of a fantasy romance series that I’ve been trying to sell for years, and I’d love to see it gain a wider readership than I can manage with self publishing, so I’m giving Scout a shot.
HOW SCOUT WORKS: Any Amazon customer can go to the Kindle Scout website (you can see my book on their website here: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/GDATHRYHT8YR) and without needing special logins beyond their normal Amazon account, they can scroll through lists of unpublished books that authors have uploaded and nominate any three. If a book that they nominate is selected by Amazon for publication, the reader receives a free copy as a bonus for supporting the author.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR AMAZON: Publishers are getting savvy about ‘author platform’ and a great book is often not enough to get you a publishing contract. In the Kindle Scout model, Amazon is not only assessing the popularity of your book excerpt and cover, they’re assessing your social networks (which should equal new readers for them if they publish you). In the “campaign stats” for your book, you can see where the page traffic is coming from. Here are my stats at day 4 of my campaign:
I’ve got over 1000 Facebook friends on my personal page, and I called in favours to get shares of my post about SILK there. I also have a Facebook Author page with 1200 Likes, so I’ve boosted that post on Facebook over the next few days to those followers who I hope will take the time to check out the book and nominate it. So my traffic from Facebook is looking good so far. I imagine that as my campaign progresses, the traffic from Kindle Scout will slow as all the habitual ‘scouts’ have looked at SILK and either chosen it or not. However, for all I know there could be hundreds of new ‘scouts’ turning up on the Kindle Scout website every day, so I look forward to assessing that as I go.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU: The end result of your 30 day campaign is that if your book is wildly popular, Amazon may offer you a 5 year contract with a $1,500 advance and 50% eBook royalty rate for worldwide publication rights for eBook and audio formats in all languages. (Authors retain all other rights, including print.) You’d also receive ‘featured Amazon marketing’ which I’m guessing will make your novel far more visible on the Amazon website!
HOW DO AMAZON DECIDE? No one’s quite sure at this stage, but is seems clear that the number of nominations you receive and the breadth of your social networks play a role, as well as the feedback readers have given on your book when they nominate it (screenshot below):
HOW DO YOU SUBMIT? The website is simple and the upload is easy but read all the instructions before you start. You’ll need certain answers beyond the blurb and bio, so I found it easier to create a document to list all my answers so I could cut-and-paste them during the submission process. That helps ensure your answers don’t go over the character count limit because if they do, they’ll be cut.
You need to submit a proper book cover as well as the completed and proof-read manuscript in Word format (even though only the first 5000 words are shown to readers). My 5000 words ended 87 words short of a cliffhanger, so I emailed and asked if they could extend the sample that much and they did it immediately, which was great customer service.
Once you’ve uploaded all your bits and pieces, Amazon takes up to 2 days to decide if your work is of sufficient quality to be accepted. If it is, they email you with details and a link to a preview of your campaign page so you can let them know if there are any details you’d like changed (as I did with my excerpt). Your 30 day campaign usually starts within 48 hours of that acceptance email, so that gives you time to get your “Please nominate me” emails and Facebook posts ready to go. Once your book is live on the Kindle Scout website, you can go to town, calling in all favours and trying to get your book into “Hot and Trending” for as many hours a day as you can manage! Here’s how mine went in the opening days:
Pretty good so far, but 30 days is a sustained effort, and I’ll be away from my computer over Christmas, so I’m giving it my best over the next fortnight and hoping momentum will sustain it after that.
So, that’s where I’m at with it so far. If you’d like more info on Kindle Scout or how I’m going, please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org or pop a comment in below about your experiences with Scout if you’ve already tried it. If you’ve got a book in the bottom drawer gathering dust, it could be a good option for moving it forward!