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Kindle Scout: Worth a shot?

21 April 2016

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.

. . . .

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:

  1. 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.

. . . .

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).

. . . .

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.

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85 Comments to “Kindle Scout: Worth a shot?”

  1. No, it’s not self publishing.
    Don’t think anybody claims it is anything but another tradpub channel. Albeit a somewhat friendlier channel. The transparency of terms is good, the auto-renewal…?
    Dunno.

    Beats most newcomer BPH terms but that’s not saying much.

    The tone of the excerpts suggests he doesn’t like it.

    It’s not too different from what Amazon Studios does with TV series, though, and that seems to work fine.

    • The comment about self-publishing was in response to a quote from Victoria Strauss. As for not liking KS…I’m on the fence & seeking feedback. Seem to be getting it, too, which is very cool.

  2. I posted this comment at the original article but thought it might also be helpful here:

    I ran a successful Kindle Scout campaign last September/October for my book, The Lost Art of Second Chances. At the time, I was in a situation close to your first scenario. I’d self-published one novel in July and went with KS for my second. It was a stand-alone book with no sequel.

    I’ve been very happy with my KS experience. Amazon’s included me in two promotions so far and sales have been strong. Several of my fellow winners have been selected for the Kindle Daily Deal and other top Amazon promos opportunities–far beyond any promotional abilities I could muster.

    Prior to entering KS, I’d paid for a developmental editor, a copy editor, and a professional cover design. Though KS did provide another post-campaign edit, my changes were very minor at that time. Other authors have enjoyed more rigorous post-campaign editing. I think it depends. In my case, I’d already had considerable editing completed.

    As you state, I could have self-published and intended to do so before learning about KS. However, I’m sure that a second novel by a newbie author would not have seen anything close to my KS sales numbers. In fact, my KS numbers are roughly double all royalties from my other works combined.

    KS isn’t for everyone. A professional cover and good editing are required to stand out in a very competitive field. And a successful KS author will need to run a great social media campaign, which takes considerable time during the 30 days the campaign is live. Having all your social media ducks in a row (a good website, presence on the major social media sites, etc.) is essential to being successful.

    I’m currently publishing a 12 novella series this year along with the third book in my trilogy. But I’m already considering writing another stand-alone novel and competing in KS again. If anyone has any questions, I’m happy to answer them.

    • Courtney, I must disagree about the necessity of campaigning for thirty days. I didn’t. I mentioned Kindle Scout on three forums I frequent, tweeted once, blogged, then walked away and got on with writing the sequel and formatting the print book. My book was still selected.

      • The amount of social media campaigning is an individual choice. As for me, I campaigned constantly for all thirty days–mostly posting in FB groups, tweeting, and blogging. All told, I had about 1520 page views and about 65% of the time in Hot and Trending.

        Ultimately, however, the reader nominations and time in “hot & trending” are only one factor in the ultimate selection decision by the Kindle Press editors. I think most successful campaigns have at least 1500 views (they don’t tell you how many nominations you receive) and about 50% of the time in the coveted “Hot & Trending” category.

        • Ha! Time Rats 1 had 572 page views, and 155 hours out of a possible 720 in Hot & Trending. However, 96 of those hours were in the last five days, when people nominate books they’d like to get a free copy of. If I were Amazon, that’s the only part of the H & T I’d pay any attention to at present.

        • I had less than 1500 views and was still selected.

          • Thanks for sharing your experiences Courtney, Lexi & Rachel. I’m generally encouraged by the experience successful authors have had from Amazon. I’m also encouraged that large numbers of nominations/hot and trending are necessary for success. It’s my belief that this is perhaps the smallest part of the equation. How many views did you get Rachel?

  3. “I don’t see a scenario where submitting to Kindle Scout is superior to self-publishing”

    Well, you do get guaranteed free marketing from Amazon, and that’s not nothing.

    • Where’s the guarantee? Other than free copies to people who nominate your book, I don’t see one. Of course, that might be effective all on its own. I’d love to see some numbers on this sort of thing!

  4. My novel, The Trouble with Time, Time Rats Book 1, was selected by Kindle Scout 1st February 2016, published 5th April. And I’m getting tired of reading this sort of negative, ill-informed article.

    I’ve self-published seven books, and Time Rats 1 is my eighth. Why am I delighted that Kindle Press has published it? It’s not the extremely thorough Kirkus edit they paid for, or the formatting, which I could have done myself. No, what Amazon can do, is doing, and will do is promote my book to their customers.

    That’s why my book is as I write at 4,100 in the US Kindle Store, and as far as I can judge, well on its way to earning out the advance. So far, Amazon has just sent out some emails on the book’s behalf. Going by other Kindle Press authors’ experience (we have our own private Facebook group) I can look forward to various promotions in the months to come, none of which I could do on my own. Yes, I’ll be getting 50% instead of 70%, but of much larger earnings.

    The Kindle Press staff are helpful and responsive. They want Kindle Press to succeed as much as the authors do. I hope it will. It’s looking pretty good to me so far.

    • It’s great to hear how well you’ve done. I finished my campaign and am waiting to hear on my book.

      Either way, I think I came out ahead. While my book was in Scout I had steady sales in my other series. And A lot more eyes on my books.

      If they reject me I self-publish again (this is my 6th). If they pick me up, I get great promotion that will probably spill over to my other books.

      • That’s a really cool bit of data there. The book helped your others while it was being considered? And even if it doesn’t “win” Amazon will still email folks who nominated it when it comes out?

        I’m still a bit worried about the contract terms, and would love it if PG weighed in there. But it’s sounding better to me now than when I’d just read the agreement without getting to talk to people.

        The internet can be an amazing place.

  5. I too am an author published by Kindle Press. (The Kindle Scout’s imprint) I ran a campaign in November for my sports romance HIS TO WIN. At the time I was a new romance name and had zero readership. I needed a way to get some exposure on my first romance novel and I thought Kindle Scout was a great way to do that.

    I was right.

    During my campaign, I started what ended up being a very successful contemporary romance serial to help build a readership for HIS TO WIN, should it be selected by Kindle Scout. The serial took off, which made me start regretting submitting to Kindle Scout. What could they do for me that I couldn’t do for myself? I had given up control of pricing, something that’s important when promoting. Everything else is in my control, even the blurb. I did the cover, I was able to approve all edits. I received a very decent advance and the terms are very fair for what I get in return. Yet I still was not sure if I’d made the right decision doing with Kindle Scout. I was starting to doubt that they could do anything for me I couldn’t do for myself.

    But I was wrong.

    In March, Kindle Press selected HIS TO WIN for a promotion that shot my book all the way to #23 in the entire paid Kindle store. It sat in the top 100 for a good day and a half and exposed me to thousands of eyeballs I never would have been able to reach on my own. There was some sell through to my other books as well and I have decided to publish the second book in the series through Kindle Press too, if they’ll have me again.

    In this day and age, it’s good to have lots of pots on different stoves. I still self publish my contemporary romance titles and will now have books through an Amazon imprint. I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity. I cannot say enough positive things about the experience. It isn’t for everyone, but I highly recommend it to anyone just starting out, especially in the big genres- romance and suspense/thrillers specifically. (Though I think it’s great for any genre. I’ve just noticed those books seems to really do well in the months after being launched.)

    PS. My campaign was very womp womp. You don’t need tons and tons of votes on Kindle Scout to get selected. You just need a good book. Don’t let a lack of social media footprint or influence hold you back.

  6. I also think, that if you look at the deal, it’s really good. 20,000 dollars over five years, or you get your rights back. That’s not nothing. I know some people make a lot more, but I think most people make a lot less.

    • AFAICT, all that means is that if your book is making you more than $25K over five years, you can’t get the rights back under the terms of this agreement. It’s not a guarantee of anything.

      But it -is- encouraging to think that, if it all turns into a horrible mistake, it’s self-limiting in most cases. And a book making that much, presumably helping any other books you’ve published as well, is a problem most of us would love to have! {8′>

    • I made more than that in a much shorter period of time. Amazon knows what they’re doing.

      • Isn’t that a separate issue? Yes, you’ve been successful. No, there’s not a guarantee of any sales or royalties.

        As far as Amazon knowing what they’re doing, I don’t think anyone has suggested otherwise here…

        Hm.

        • I was responding directly to Jeff, not to you. And how is it a separate issue? People are curious as to how Kindle Scout participants have fared. I’m one of many, and there are lots of authors who are doing just as well as I am, if not better.

          And guess what – there’s no guarantee of sales or royalties with indie publishing either. But the upside here is that if Amazon DOESN’T make you money (which I can’t see happening, but let’s pretend) YOU GET YOUR RIGHTS BACK. Then you can self publish to your heart’s content.

          • I agree. And even if you go that route, you will still be able to say ‘Kindle Scout selected Author’ on the rest of your books.

  7. “I don’t see a scenario where submitting to Kindle Scout is superior to self-publishing.”

    Aaannnndddd…herein lies the problem. This author hasn’t participated in Kindle Scout. Bottom line – he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But he’s presented an article as if he understands all the ins and outs and is qualified to dispense advice about it.

    I’ve said it before and sorry to be repeating myself, but – I’m one of the very first winners of Kindle Scout. There are only nine other authors who have been in the program for as long as I have. My first Kindle Scout book debuted over a year ago. So I have experience and cold, hard math to back up my assertions. I’m not just guessing or hoping as to how Kindle Scout will or won’t work for me.

    And the bottom line is that I paid an exorbitant amount of taxes for 2015. More than I could have ever possibly imagined. All due to Kindle Scout. And KS led to other great things for me – a two-book contract with Montlake (Amazon’s romance line) and my very own Kindle World.

    I don’t think there’s anything to match Amazon promotion. I’ve watched my book, that’s been out for over a year, climb into the very Top 100 overall repeatedly for the entire site. I’ve never once managed that solely as an indie. My books sit at the top of smaller lists on a regular basis. I sell A LOT of books. And that’s with only two out currently with Amazon and one indie book of my own.

    Amazon has not screwed me. In fact, they have been actively interested in making both of us a lot of money. They promote me on a regular basis. I was willing to give up 20% royalties for that to happen. Like my own little personal loss leader. I’ve compared it before to “Shark Tank” – the naysayers remind me of those entrepreneurs who refuse to give up a bigger percentage of their companies to the Sharks, even though the Sharks could be helping them to earn millions more. Having half of a massive pie is better than having seventy percent of a tiny pie.

    I’m personally of the opinion that every indie author should have at least one book with one of Amazon’s lines. They would probably be stunned by how that one book would lift every other book they’ve published, and at how their earnings would very rapidly increase.

    KS detractors keeps saying, “Amazon’s not required to promote you!” (Very similar to the “Amazon’s going to take over the world and screw us out of royalty percentages!” that I hear all the time.) And that’s right, they’re not technically required. But they want you to make money because then they make money. It makes no sense to make a financial expenditure on a book and then let it drop. I know traditional publishing does that, but Amazon is NOT traditional publishing. A year into it, and Amazon promotes me a lot. With promotions that most indie authors would probably kill (or at least seriously maim) someone for.

    My first phone call with my Montlake team – like a good little diligent author I asked what I should be doing to promote myself (mostly so that they would be happy with me). Their response? Nothing. Because they would take care of it and there really wasn’t anything I could do that would match their efforts even a little. The same is true of Kindle Press. I’ve done next to nothing to promote that book. And it still keeps selling like gangbusters because of Amazon.

    And having been with Kindle Press and Montlake, the two have been very different experiences. Kindle Press is a great deal more like self-publishing in that you have to do the editing yourself, and you have to provide your own cover.

    For everyone that ever asks me about it, I heartily endorse the Kindle Scout program. There are so many benefits to it that I feel like it outweighs any possible negatives. Real or imagined.

    • Hmm. I thought I was presenting what I had available to me, and asking for feedback. Perhaps it seemed otherwise.

      There’s also the possibility (near certainty, in my mind, but what’s that worth?) that Amazon would indeed push the work of early participants, just to encourage more participants later. I don’t see why they wouldn’t do that, regardless of their long-term plans.

      But so far, I’m pleased with what people have said about KS. And unsure why I shouldn’t post my thoughts and ask questions on my own blog. And, yes, still concerned about some provisions in the publishing agreement & how they’ll work out over time.

      • “There’s also the possibility (near certainty, in my mind, but what’s that worth?) that Amazon would indeed push the work of early participants, just to encourage more participants later. I don’t see why they wouldn’t do that, regardless of their long-term plans.”

        And yet…newly minted members of Kindle Press are also doing just as well as I am. So it isn’t some nefarious scheme to trick people into participating. I don’t know how it could be a near certainty in your mind when, again, you aren’t part of it and are only conjecturing. Some of the newer authors have even charted higher than I have (as recently as this current month). Is that also part of a stunt to lure more unsuspecting authors in down the line? If so, then I’m sure there would be a line of authors who would be more than willing to participate as patsies and make tons of money for themselves as Amazon does their years-long scheme to get everybody into Kindle Scout.

        It’s not a scheme. It’s not a scam. Don’t do it if you don’t want to. That’s the great thing about indie publishing. Nobody’s holding a gun to your head to force you to do anything. And you may not even get chosen. Somebody currently in the program calculated that only 16% of the books are selected. I’m not sure how that figures into your Amazon’s laying a trap scenario. If what you’re saying is true, they’d take 100% of the books. But they don’t.

        I’m tired of misinformation when I know, with actual total certainty and knowledge, that what’s being said is untrue.

        • Sariah, I replied to your comment on my site but Hotmail doesn’t like my mail server and wouldn’t accept the notification delivery.

          Something seems to be broken in our communication in other ways, too. I did not seek to offend anyone, and I am not aware of any “misinformation” in either my original post or any of my responses to date. You’ve added data to what I had available, for which I thank you.

          Not sure where to go from there, so I’ll just stop. I’m glad it’s working out for you, though.

          • Really? Your “near certainty” that Amazon is laying a trap for authors isn’t misinformation? It isn’t untrue?

            And you’re right – there’s nowhere to go from here. Because your assertions are misleading and I’m doing my best to correct them (as have other KS winners).

            • I stated in the original post that I didn’t believe Amazon was trying to screw up writers. I said above that they’d promote early winners whether or not they were attempting to scam anyone, which is just a matter of logic. It means that I can’t draw any conclusions at this point from what you’ve presented.

              You’re taking offense. I did not intend to offend you. I have not attacked you in any way. I have not made false statements, or been other than reasonable AFAICT.

              Seriously? I’m glad it’s working out for you.

              • I’m not offended. I’m annoyed. Because your article was negative in nature, and as Lexi pointed out, blogs like yours are dissuading authors from trying out Kindle Scout when it is one of the best programs out there right now for authors to get discovered and to make money.

                And they’re not just promoting early winners.

                On April 10, author James P. Sumner (winner 2/9/16) was #163 overall for the entire site.

                On April 4, author Anne Carrole (winner on 1/26/16) got to #325 overall (and number one on several lists).

                On March 28, Alison Perry (winner on 2/9/16) reached #87 overall for the entire site.

                As of today, “The Eagle Tree,” a recent Kindle Scout winner that hasn’t even come out yet, is currently sitting at #46 overall for the entire site.

                How is Amazon promoting “early winners” a year into the program? It has been an ongoing effort that has paid off for those involved long after the program first started. I belong to a private Facebook group made out of Kindle Scout winners, and I get to see their constant successes. It isn’t doing what you’re suggesting. I’d even wager that five years from now, they’ll still be doing this with Kindle Scout winners.

                And part of the reason why I know this is because of other Montlake authors – many of them no longer publish with Montlake (and haven’t for years) and yet their books are still promoted on a constant basis. I can see the long-tail of this and can verify that Amazon promotes years after the fact.

                So other authors – if this is a trap, I’d suggest finding it and laying down in it and letting Amazon trap you. My guess is that you won’t regret it.

                • Amen, Sariah!!

                • Look, if their promotional efforts are working, there’s no reason for Amazon to ever stop making them. So there’s that.

                  Separately, Amazon tends to operate as if someone’s thinking of the long term, so a year doesn’t mean much to me. If there’s a long-term strategy (which does -not- necessarily translate as “scam”) in place, chances are good they’re after something big. This KS thing could really hurt the trad-pub world.

                  My post was negative in nature? Well, yeah. There are clear downsides to KS. They may well prove, over a writer’s career, to be outweighed by the upsides. The jury’s still out on that, but it definitely seems to be true that KS is working out well for some people to date.

                  In my post, I pointed out that Amazon is skimming the cream of the crop–they’re identifying books with a good chance of doing well. And they’re pushing them. Why wouldn’t they? It’s working for them. Does that mean they’re using their platform on behalf of the books in which they have a stronger financial interest? That may be the case–in fact I think you’ve argued rather persuasively that it is. However, that might turn out to be a problem over time.

                  This still leaves Amazon the option to change their minds, about everything, tomorrow. How much harm would that do? Well, it beats me. On balance, it still may be positive for most or even all KS winners. Or…not.

                  I have the feeling that if I describe a scenario that doesn’t turn out so well, you’ll react as if I’d said that particular scenario is likely. But if I don’t, you’ll react as if I couldn’t. So. Some scenarios involve sale or transfer of rights. Some involve legal action against Amazon’s promotion of books in which they have a stronger proprietary interest. Some involve new publishing opportunities in the future, and authors (or at least books written by authors) not being able to participate in them. Some involve Amazon’s loss of the ability to usefully promote works of fiction. As for when any of that might happen? Beats me. Tomorrow? Next year? Twenty years from now?

                  Yes, some people are doing well at the moment. Perhaps they’ll continue to do so, or others will. But I think it’s a mistake to generalize too far from that and conclude that KS will always, unequivocally, be good for writers. We simply do not know that.

                  Please note that I did -not- say KS would not be helpful. I said there are downsides, as I described in my original post, which is true. I think it’s much better to consider them than not, and attacking me for posting my thoughts strikes me as less than useful.

                  But you’ll do as you see fit. And I’m glad of it.

                  All that said…KS looks better to me than it did yesterday. Which is not a conclusion on my part, or a suggestion that anyone else draw a conclusion at this point. We should all, most likely, do as we think best.

                • And here you go again, David:

                  “This still leaves Amazon the option to change their minds, about everything, tomorrow. How much harm would that do?”

                  Everyone be afraid because Amazon MIGHT do something — even though they’ve been upfront with everything for all these years, they MIGHT do something bad — any day now!

                  I know, you’re just warming up for when KU3 comes out to help deal with the scammers and catches some writers with it too — right?

                • Never said that. Contradicted some of it directly in other posts this week.

                • “Never said that. Contradicted some of it directly in other posts this week.”

                  By repeating it you ‘are’ saying and reinforcing it.

                  If you don’t want to lay claim to those words or thoughts then don’t say/repeat them.

                • I’m lost. You put words in my mouth. I pointed out that I’d never said them. Then I’m all of a sudden guilty of repeating…something…but I don’t know what.

                  Okay. Caught me again.

                • Poor David. It’s in the post right above mine …

                  .

                  If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything. — Mark Twain

                • Oh. Yes, I said what I said. I didn’t say what you said. It’s a bit weird that you thought I was saying I didn’t say what I said.

                  Follow that? If so, why?

                  Sheesh.

                • Thanks for sharing your experience and that of previous winners Sariah. It’s very encouraging and I agree. I think the program offers more pluses than minuses. Every author has to decide for themselves what their options are and whether this makes sense in their career at this time.

      • David, I’ve read many more or less derogatory articles like yours about Kindle Scout.

        And I think it’s a pity if these opinion pieces put writers off what is probably, at the moment, the biggest opportunity out there.

    • It timed out before I could edit, but let me also add real quick – the amount of people who throw fits about Amazon taking an additional 20% but have zero problems having a permafree book where they give up 100% (or their entire 70%) as a promotional tool is just amazing to me. I’d bet Amazon does a much better job marketing than a permafree ever could.

    • Thank you for posting this. It’s good to know KS takes care of their authors 🙂

    • Like my own little personal loss leader.

      You and Lexi are making reassuring points here. I was going to ask if KS would be good for a loss leader book, and it looks like this would be a valid way to use it. It seems more effective than other options.

      I also don’t consider it a downside to have to provide my own cover and edits; those are two things I’d want control over.

      Glad this is working out for you two. Also glad for the lowdown on KS.

      • I would absolutely use it as a loss leader. Without question. I have a teen series I want to write and I’m considering pitching the first book to Kindle Press, because I know how they’ll promote it, leaving the other five or six books all indie and me benefiting from their pushes.

        If anyone has any questions, I’m more than happy to answer them. I think this program is fantastic and I don’t have a single bad thing to say about it, because it has been nothing but amazing for me and my career.

        • Thanks for the information Sariah and Lexi.

          I will consider submitting my first novel to KU thanks to your information, seems like a nice deal.

          I especially want to get my rights back if things don’t work out, 5 years isn’t that bad. Keeping the print rights seems like a nice bonus.

          Cheers.

          • Yep. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to go for it – if it didn’t work out, I could just get my rights back and have my own go at it.

            And so far Amazon hasn’t exercised any of the rights but digital. Which means in another year I can get everything else back – translation, audio, etc.

            And for everyone considering submitting – just know that there are lots of winners who had to submit multiple times with different books before they got chosen. If you don’t succeed the first time, you can always try again!

        • Thanks for all of this great real-world info, Sariah and Lexi. And this answers my big question: would you put the first book in a series in there? Right now, that’s all I’ve got. But it sounds like it’s worth considering (and strongly) after I’ve added to it. Then again, the whole world will have changed by the time I reach that point.

          Seriously, though—thanks for weighing in.

          • Michael – I absolutely would – as I just mentioned above – I have a YA series that I’m considering pitching the first book to Kindle Press so that Amazon can promote it for me and I can make the rest of the series indie and keep all the money. 😉

    • Sariah, I know we don’t know one another, but seeing your success with Kindle Press is what made me go for it. It has changed my life. Not just financially, but it’s given me the confidence to really go for it in other aspects of my publishing career. So happy you’ve done well and wish you nothing but more success!

      Articles like this are frustrating because they’re a ton of speculation… Before making a decision on whether Kindle Scout is for you, maybe you know… Talk to someone who’s done it.

      • That is so nice, Alison. I’m so glad you’ve had so much success, and I’m thrilled that I played a teensy part in putting you on the path that worked for you! 🙂

        And I agree – if authors are concerned or wondering about Kindle Scout, they should ask someone who’s done it. I’ve answered every email sent my way about it. So many people (including Passive Guy) helped me on my indie journey that I’m determined to return the favor.

    • Thanks for the detail, Sariah.

    • Thank you for this information.

    • If everyone had a book under one of Amazon’s lines, you wouldn’t make nearly as much money, and be nearly as popular. You would no longer get that huge rank boost your books receive for ghost borrows – the rank boost that steals visibility from non-KU books.

  8. There are three very basic ways to lie …

    The outright lie.
    The half truth.
    Telling the whole truth, but in a way that is believed to be a lie.

    Between these we then have many mixes to help hide and confuse the issue, but in the end they each break down to the three.

    To me, the OP smelled like a paid trad-pub piece trying to scare writers away from what appears to be a much friendlier publisher than themselves. Heaven forbid a writer compare the contracts of KS to one from the qig5 (or demand KS type rights from the qig5 …)

    .

    What upsets me is not that you lied to me, but that from now on I can no longer believe you. — Nietzsche

    • Y’know, in my post I explicitly said I thought writers would probably be better off with KS than a traditional publisher.

      Because that’s what I thought. And still think.

      • Heh, it’s all in the way you say it.

        Oh, I do hope those new shoes don’t pinch your feet too badly.

        No, I don’t think that dress makes you look too fat.

        I do not believe Amazon is out to screw up writers.

        • “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).”

          “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.”

          Yep. Shilling for tradpub. You caught me. Damn, I wonder if I’ll have to return my advance?

    • There was a post here on TPV a couple of days ago that describes you extremely well, Allen F. I believe it was the dictionary definition of “philodox.”

      Take care.

  9. Lots of good comments here and they’ve been very helpful. I inquired about KS on this site a while back and got some helpful comments then, as well.

    I currently have several novels that I’ve self published through KDP. I plan to submit my current WIP to KS to see how it goes. I figure it can’t hurt. Hopefully it will generate some interest in my self pubbed books. Maybe it will be selected for publication by KS. If not, I can always self-publish after the fact.

    The way I see it, the only downside is that I can’t self publish the new novel until after the KS campaign is over. I’m willing to wait 45 days in order to give it a try.

    • “The way I see it, the only downside is that I can’t self publish the new novel until after the KS campaign is over. I’m willing to wait 45 days in order to give it a try.”

      Yeah, I’m currently in the middle of a Scout campaign, and this is the hardest part for me. When my books are finished, I’m used to having them up for sale a few days later. I’m willing to wait 45 days too, but not being able to hit that publish button, sitting on a finished novel, is driving me nuts.

  10. Merrill, David, and any other author considering the Kindle Scout program:

    Go to this thread on the Kindle Boards. Lots of fantastic information there to help you decide if Kindle Scout is the right decision for you.

    http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,213112.0.html

    FWIW, I firmly believe it was the right decision for me, as a newbie contemporary romance author. As with everything, your mileage may vary.

  11. Folks, this has been fun, and I’ve learned things. Thanks you. But I’m going to go do something else with my time. If you’d like to speak to me, you can find me at my site…but I’ll be busy for a few hours. Starting with watching a guy replace a minivan’s windshield, which should be totally fun.

    Seriously, thanks for the feedback. And thanks, PG, for making this happen.

    -D

  12. Folks, this has been fun, and I’ve learned things. Thank you. But I’m going to go do something else with my time. If you’d like to speak to me, you can find me at my site…but I’ll be busy for a few hours. Starting with watching a guy replace a minivan’s windshield, which should be totally fun.

    Seriously, thanks for the feedback. And thanks, PG, for making this happen.

    -D

  13. The way that I see it, Kindle is the 9000 pound gorilla of e-publishing. So – it is in my best interest to align myself with that 9000 pound gorilla – which is why I campaigned twice for Kindle Scout.

    The second time I got in. I’ve received my advance and have been through the editing process and I am happily awaiting preorder.

    While I wait I am working on a manuscript for my traditional publisher. Hopefully they’ll like that manuscript and throw me an advance of their own.

    In between I am roughing out the next book to follow the book that Kindle Scout picked up. I am hoping that they will pick that one up as well.

    I campaigned like a one man senate committee, thumping on drums and clambering up flag poles and shouting all over the internet. I got some nominations out of it and got accepted and it didn’t hurt me one little bit.

    A lot of folks talk about how Amazon and Kindle are going to grow up from being 9000 pound gorillas and evolve into something more along the lines of Skynet. A lot of folks worry that Jeff Bezos is really Darth Vader and that we are all going to nothing but indentured guppies to his evil machinations.

    The way I look at it – if Amazon IS going to become Skynet then the traditional publishers are going to get squashed and the indie authors are going to gang-raped by Amazon cheerleading stormtroopers and NOTHING I do is going to prevent that.

    Let’s face it. If Amazon IS that dangerous what the hell will all of our caution avail us.

    I don’t figure that Amazon is Skynet.

    I don’t think that Jeff Bezos is Darth Vader.

    I don’t believe that Amazon or Bezos or even those stormtrooping cheerleaders are anything more than fearful rumors.

    Kindle Scout has already made me money in the form of my advance. It came a good time when I was more deeper than a hole than a gopher ought to get. I am both hopeful and confident that when the book is released in mid-to-late May that I will sell a truckload of copies as well as boost the sales of my back catalogue and Stephen King himself will fear and tremble at the sound of my name.

    All right – maybe not that last part…

    So – to make a long rambling thread entry short – I am all for Kindle Scout. I think that it is a good deal for writers who want to see it that way and use it for what it is.

    Is Amazon going to make money off of my butt?

    I sure hope so.

    I want to keep on the good side of that 9000 pound gorilla.

  14. This has been interesting. I’ve heard of Kindle Scout but never heard of Kindle Press. I don’t think it would work for me as I write in a niche. Under a pen name I write paranormal m/m gothic romances. I am working on some m/f contemporary romances but they will not be my main focus. Under my own name I write faerie, fairy tale and cat stories. So, again they are all a niche. I don’t think they would be looking for that. But interesting to see what is out there.

    • Just to clarify, Vera, Kindle Press is the Amazon imprint that Kindle Scout winners are under. Kindle Scout is the nomination process/site and Kindle Press is the publisher.

      Hope that helps.

  15. Hrrmph, there’s a lot of contention here. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the terms of Kindle Scout & Press count as a contract, no? And presumably you would print out the current version and keep it somewhere. Or screenshot it or save as a PDF, etc. Especially useful since there’s a revision date on the page, so you could say, “I submitted on X date, and these were the terms as of Revision Y.”

    See, I didn’t watch Judge Wapner all those years for nothing 🙂

    So, if Amazon were to later maliciously change up the terms of the contract — we’ll assume that Bezos is replaced by an evil twin — this would be a breach, right? You could take them to court?

    I don’t think it’s so risky to do business when you have the contract up front, know everything it says, and can have an attorney vet it for you. If you don’t like the contract, you haven’t lost anything because you won’t hit the upload button. And if you do like the terms, you’re not risking so much because this isn’t a handshake deal or a he-said she-said deal: you’ve got the papers to prove your side. You have recourse.

    This seems like a safe risk to me. What am I missing?

  16. Thanks to all those who have had experience with Kindle Scout for sharing your experiences.

  17. Yes! Lexi, Courtney, Sariah, Steve — thank you for taking the time to respond.

  18. I’d like to add my thanks to everybody who has contributed to this conversation and to David for starting the debate. That’s how we learn and grow and, in the publishing business, every bit of current information is priceless!

    Thanks to your comments and suggestions, I too will consider submitting to Kindle Scout.

    And last, but certainly not least, a huge thanks to PG for your amazing, informative blog.

  19. Youre a class act Kristian J

    “I’d like to add my thanks to everybody who has contributed to this conversation and to David for starting the debate. That’s how we learn and grow and, in the publishing business, every bit of current information is priceless!

    “Thanks to your comments and suggestions, I too will consider submitting to Kindle Scout.

    “And last, but certainly not least, a huge thanks to PG for your amazing, informative blog.”

  20. Today’s the last day of my Kindle Scout campaign, and let me tell you, it’s more nerve wracking than I ever expected. You can check your stats on a daily basis- the KS team updates them once every morning- but all you’re given are views, not how many nominations you’ve received. In the KS guidelines, they state that they don’t want readers to be influenced by how many nominations a book has received (fair enough) but it would be nice if they told the authors. Knowing which promotions you’ve run has resulted in the best ratio of views to nominations would help determine which promotions to push harder, and which to abandon. Just piling up views doesn’t help if those don’t result in a decent number of nominations. And oh, by the way, no one seems to have any idea how many views and/or nominations are needed to sway the KS judges whether to accept your book or not. My guess is that if the judges are on the fence about a particular novel, a healthy number of nominations could persuade them to give it the green light. On the other hand, a poorly written book with a brilliant KS campaign would probably still get the thumbs down. Indeed, there have been a few novels that started and staid in the “Hot & Trending” category their entire campaigns that weren’t selected, while others that didn’t spent a single hour in H&T were snapped up.

    The bottom line: submit a really good novel, run a decent campaign, and your odds of acceptance are good. Submit a poor novel, and no matter how brilliant your KS campaign, you’re likely to be rejected. In that regards, the KS program (and Kindle Press) aren’t all that different from any other traditional publisher- except for the 30 day popularity gauntlet you have to run.

    All that said, would I do it again? For the chance to have my novel not only published but promoted by Amazon with all their vast resources, you bet.

    • Mark, I see on the Kboards thread people tying themselves in knots over the Hot and Trending chart. My belief is that it’s displacement activity, a big waste of energy.

      If a book is an absorbing read, well-written, edited, with an effective cover, it has a good chance of being selected on Kindle Scout.

      • You’re absolutely correct. A good book that needs a lot of editing, or one that’s just okay, might benefit from multiple days spent in H&T in the eyes of the KS judges, but otherwise H&T means very little, and is not an automatic guarantee of acceptance by any means.

        • What I’m saying, Mark, is that I do NOT think multiple days in H & T sway Kindle Scout selectors. Not when paying for Facebook adverts etc. will put a book into the charts. Amazon isn’t stupid.

  21. Certainly we can agree to disagree, but if the KS selectors are on the fence about a book, how well a campaign was run might (with “might” the key word here) be the deciding factor. I’ll admit I just don’t know, since the whole Kindle Scout program is kind of like The Lord- it moves in mysterious ways.

    • Agreeing on that, but if you think the KS is ‘The Lord moving in mysterious ways’, are you then saying those devilish trad-pubs with their contracts written in the authors’ blood are ‘less’ mysterious in why they accept/reject something? 😉

      (all in fun but at least you ‘seem’ to get to see part of what’s going on with KS, where as with trad-pub you won’t ever know that your tale wasn’t even read because it ended up in the even pile on the ‘odd pile’ day.)

  22. Hi Allen-

    Yes, I believe that’s what gave birth to the “Thank you, but this doesn’t quite fit our needs” rejection slip that still flourishes, now as an email for electronic submissions. Not only does it fail spectacularly to tell you what was “quite” wrong with your submission, it gives no assurance that your manuscript wasn’t the victim of some autoresponder that kicked back your submission without any human intervention whatsoever. (Your whole “we don’t consider manuscripts on even days” awareness.)

    Isn’t technology grand?

    • A while ago one of the posts on this site pointed out that each publisher has only so many book slots to fill each month. And they only want to spend/waste money on so many screeners/prereaders. 1000 manuscripts pour in, they need 10. Even if they pick 100 to then pick ‘the best of the best, 900 might get a glance (or not even that if they’ve already hit their 100) …

  23. Well, we’re getting way off topic here, but “a glance” might be generous, especially now that self-publishing is booming at the expense of traditional publishers, who are losing market share along with the brick-and-mortar bookstores that support them…

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