If you’ve ever purchased a book on writing through Amazon, chances are you’ve been invited to contribute a book to their Kindle Scout program. If you’ve wondered whether this campaign-style approach to getting a publishing contract is for you, then the following could help you decide.

The rewards for a successful campaign are a chance at publication with Amazon’s latest imprint, Kindle Press. The imprint is less than two-years-old and has around 200 titles under its belt. If you’re self-published or have a debut novel to offer, then Kindle Press may offer an interesting option.

A big plus is the short time for consideration: 45 days from beginning to end. Once you’ve submitted a title to Kindle Scout, you’ll receive notification of its acceptance into the program within 48 hours. As part of the acceptance you’ll be provided with a link where your book will go live, access to a pre-production view of your page as it will appear on Kindle Scout so you can perform a final check-through for errors, and a go-live date and time.

The campaign runs for thirty days from the go-live date and the incentive to offer readers is that anyone nominating your title will receive a copy free if Kindle Press select it for publication. For me, thirty days was a lot longer than it sounded. When promoting titles or marketing sales for my self-published work, I’m looking at a concentrated effort of five days. That left me with another 25 days to run, so my first piece of advice is to think about your marketing plan in advance.

For existing authors, you might stagger any notifications to your email lists, or postpone using some forms of social media until you’ve exhausted others. If you try simultaneously marketing on all channels, then it’s likely your campaign will flounder after one big push. For debut authors, stagger your friends and relatives and reach out on every platform you’re present on. Often, your biggest marketing efforts are carried out by other people recommending you to their friends in turn, so make sure your campaign page looks the best it can.

From the Kboard forum page of authors who are/were going through the campaign, you’ll find 300+ pages of strategy: successes and failures. Have a read-through and find out what you should emulate and what you should skip. Think twice before you spend any money on a Kindle Scout campaign; there’s a lot of evidence that acceptances are weighted much more towards the quality of your book and cover than the number of page views or nominations. If you’re spending money, spend it on your book first.

During the campaign, Kindle Scout summarizes activity (page views, originating websites, internal vs external etc) that you can use to plan out your campaign strategy. I found this data a great source of information for planning advertising on my other titles as well. It’s one of the few chances I’ve had to pinpoint how my audience responds to various marketing tactics and where my audience was most responsive. For me, Twitter rocks and Facebook was nowhere to be seen, so I now target my efforts to where they’re most effective.

Once the campaign comes to a close, you’ll receive an email from Kindle Press to alert you it’s now reviewing your book for acceptance. If you think the campaign is nail-biting, then plan something distracting for the period your book may be in review. I’d never noticed how many emails I receive daily from Amazon, until my book was under review and I was waiting for THE ONE.

One key thing to remember when you’re deciding whether to submit your book through Kindle Scout, is that if they don’t accept your title they’ll tell everyone who nominated it. It can be a hurtful experience for authors to have their audience told their latest novel wasn’t accepted for publication. As part of the submission process, you’re able to craft the email that goes out to these nominees (the same email is sent whether you’re accepted or declined), so make sure the email works for you either way.

Another point to consider is that if you’re not accepted for publication, Kindle Scout will still offer you the opportunity to advertise to nominees when your title is published on Amazon for sale. If your campaign attracted readers to the blurb, the cover, and the opening pages, then this could be a boon to your launch advertising efforts as it’s marketing to readers who’ve already expressed an interest. Depending on your campaign response, this could offset the “not accepted for publication” email above.

So why would any self-respecting author put themselves through 45 days of public turmoil?

The marketing. 

From the contract:
10. Promotion. We will determine all marketing and promotions related to your Work.

Hell, yeah, they will. Publishing with Kindle Press offers the possibility of being advertised through Amazon’s marketing machine juggernaut. Being published by Kindle Press guarantees you initial exposure via thousands of consumer emails (the ones you receive each day suggesting new titles you may enjoy) and opens the possibility to be included in Amazon marketing promotions such as Kindle Fire Daily Deals, Month-long Genre Title Campaigns, and Discount Code Offers. Some authors have reached into the top 40 titles on the Amazon Kindle Store (that’s overall, not niche genre) after being included in these promotions.

The key word there is possibility. Your title may compete for advertising space alongside heavy-hitters Thomas & Mercer, Montlake, or 47North, so no promotion aside from the initial consumer advertising is guaranteed. As a Kindle Press author, you’ll only be notified of advertising opportunities if your book is placed. If not, your book may languish in the lower rungs of the Amazon ranking system without even the ability to use Kindle Countdown Deals or Free Days to attract buyers via an advertised sale.

If you’re interested in the program, then the entire contract is available to be read on the Kindle Scout website. It’s written in plain English and is easy to navigate. You must agree to the contract as part of submitting your title to the Kindle Scout website, so study it to make sure it fits your needs before you start the submission process. 

My initial campaign with Kindle Scout, the Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton, finished on the 6th February 2016, and Kindle Press accepted it for publication on the 8th February 2016. They released the title (following a two-week pre-order period) on the 29th March 2016 and it earned out its advance at the end of May. So far, I haven’t taken part in any Amazon promotions but I’m happy that my book is into the black. Happy enough that my current title, the Second Stage of Grief, is once again up on the Kindle Scout campaign site. You can view the first 5,000 words by CLICKING HERE (and feel free to nominate).


 

Katherine HaytonKatherine Hayton

is the author of several books, which you can find around the web and on her website (http://katherinehayton.com). You can also follow her on Twitter @kathay1973 or Facebook to start a conversation or find out what new novel she’s working on.

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