From author David Haywood Young:
Here’s the deal with Scout: you can submit a work of fiction, of sufficient length (50,000 words) and in a supported genre (Romance, Mystery & Thriller, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Teen & Young Adult, and general Literature & Fiction), and Amazon–once they accept your submission–will create a page advertising your book-to-be. Potential readers may browse these pages and like yours, or you may launch some sort of advertising or social media campaign, or both. Readers can nominate the books they’re most interested in for publication. Amazon will take the readers’ nominations into account, and decide which of the submissions they would like to publish (the decision is up to Amazon–they’re not bound by reader votes). If your work is selected, you’ll receive a $1500 advance and 50% of ebook royalties. It’s possible that Amazon will promote your work, but there is no guarantee. Your Kindle Scout campaign is supposed to last for 45 days, and your work must be exclusive to Amazon during that period.
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Looking at all that, I see no elements of self-publishing at all. I see a crowdsourced slush pile. Not a bad idea. Maybe. Worth a look, anyway.
So, when might you consider submitting to Kindle Scout? Let’s look at some possibilities:
- You’re a brand-new author with no platform, and your work is a standalone novel for which you do not plan to write a sequel. This, right here, is in my opinion the most reasonable scenario from the author’s point of view. Most first novels simply don’t sell. If you can come up with a sufficiently compelling cover, book description/blurb, and excerpt to push past all the strikes against you–which is what you’d have to do to succeed via Kindle Scout–then you’ll find yourself with a publishing contract. Or maybe you can do it via an advertising campaign (Google AdWords?) of some sort. Regardless: let’s assume you’ve managed to drive traffic to your recommendation page, and impress actual readers with your book. Assuming that…is Kindle Scout still a good idea? You’re already committed, mind…so, uh, if you were capable of getting to this point, I hope you have strong reasons to believe you couldn’t have done the same thing outside Kindle Scout. Because your ebook will remain exclusive to Amazon, or to whomever they sell or otherwise transfer the rights. If they happen to feel like it, or go bankrupt, or whatever. Same with foreign language rights and audiobook rights. You’ll have, at this point, a book with a very good chance of success–but Amazon didn’t make that happen.You did. If, just maybe, you could have done the same thing while keeping a larger chunk of your royalties, and creative control, and not entering into an exclusivity agreement with the same cover, description/blurb, and excerpt via publishing it on your own? Well, too bad for you. It’s done.
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So, you see my problem? With the exception of #4 above, which I included just for fun, I don’t see a scenario where submitting to Kindle Scout is superior to self-publishing. I could easily be wrong! And if I am, I hope you’ll tell me exactly how I’m wrong. Because I’ll have a new novel before long (assuming my daily new-fiction word count goes up from its very rocky start!) and, if Kindle Scout would be a good thing to do…I’d be happy to take advantage.
OTOH, if it’s a choice between Kindle Scout and some other publisher? Because you’ve ruled out self-publishing, for whatever reason(s) seem valid to you? Maybe this is a good idea after all. You’ll get some sort of feedback, and fairly quickly–which can be very difficult to duplicate via querying agents and publishers. The contract terms are likely far less onerous with Kindle Scout than elsewhere (I’ll refer you to Joe Konrath and Kristine Kathryn Rusch for discussion of “standard” contract terms).
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I do not believe Amazon is out to screw up writers. I think this Kindle Scout program is aimed squarely at those writers who are uncomfortable with self-publishing, and I further think they’ll probably be better off with Amazon than with most other publishers. But when compared to self-publishing? I see much risk, and very little upside.
To sum up: from a certain POV, this could be seen as a scheme to convince writers to submit their work and get reader feedback, in which Amazon gets to skim the most promising new fiction off the top and pay the “winners” lower royalties than they’d get otherwise. I’m a bit befuddled. Though this is mitigated by any promotional efforts Amazon chooses to make, and it’d be nice to have an idea of just how effective those are likely to be. Or if they’ll even happen. And under what circumstances.
Link to the rest at Caveat Lector and thanks to Alicia for the tip.
Here’s a link to David Haywood Young’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.