Why every indie author should submit to Kindle Scout

I originally wrote this post for The Reading Ape.

Recently I began my first Kindle Scout campaign. The book is a paranormal romance (with a twist even the Grim Reaper wouldn’t see coming) called “Suicide Station” and, so far, it’s doing quite well in the program. If you’ve never heard of Kindle Scout, sit back and let me explain. If you’re on the fence as to whether or not you want to submit, sit back and let me tell you why it’s in your best interest to give in and offer up your latest work.

What is Kindle Scout?

suicide_station_cover_rough_heart_2Amazon changed the publishing narrative a few years ago, when they introduced the Kindle. Their offering was the first truly viable eReader that not only resuscitated the dying technology, it made it a resounding success. Readers could enjoy their entire library on the go and writers now had the opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise. This was a complete renaissance for the written word.

Everything went smoothly…for a while. But then it became clear that the cries of serious indie authors were being drowned out by rising wall of noise. Amazon saw this and did something. That something is Kindle Scout. With this new program, Amazon is aligning itself much more like a traditional publisher…with a twist. Here’s how it works:

  1. You write a really, really good book

  2. You submit that really (again…really) good (unpublished) book to Kindle Scout

  3. Amazon takes a look at your submission and either declines or approves it for a campaign

  4. You launch your campaign (using social media, blogs, etc)

  5. People visit your campaign page, read the sample of the book, and (if they like the sample) nominate the book

  6. After 30 days, Amazon takes a look at your stats, reads the full book, and (if they feel the book is worthy of their efforts) accept the book

  7. Once accepted, the book will go through the Kindle Scout editorial process and then be sold (and promoted) by Amazon

Every author that wins a contract with Amazon gets a $1,500.00 USD advance and then enjoys a 50% royalty rate from Amazon (of course, you make nothing until you’ve paid back the advance).

That’s Kindle Scout, in a nutshell.

What you stand to gain

If your book wins a contract, you obviously gain an advance and the might of Amazon promotional efforts. Those efforts will go a long way to help sell your back catalog and get you seen by readers. That’s all quite obvious. It’s what you stand to gain, regardless if you win or lose, that’s even more important.

One of the biggest complaints you will hear, among the masses of authors, is:

Promoting is hard!

Of that, there is no doubt. However, one of the beauties of the Kindle Scout program is that it forces your hand with promotion. Amazon wants to see that you understand how to promote your work like a pro. Consider this: If you were published through any of the traditional publishers, you’d be expected to help in the promotional efforts. In today’s market, you’ve got to do everything possible to get ahead. Promotion is inevitable…as in no longer an option.

When you undertake a Kindle Scout campaign, you immediately learn just how much promotion you should have been doing all along for your books. Let me sum it up it up for you:

It’s exhausting.

You may be shaking your head, or even laughing in the now…but the second you launch that campaign, you’ll quickly understand just how much time and effort goes into a book launch or campaign. It’s a constant internal and infernal monologue of:

  • What can I do now?

  • What can I do differently?

  • What have I not done yet?

  • Who can interview me?

  • What podcasts can I get on?

  • What Facebook groups would be good for my release?

  • How many Twitter posts have I done today?

  • Where can I find new images to use for promotion?

  • What can I blog about to generate positive attention?

And that’s just scratching the surface!

The biggest difference between your regular release and a Kindle Scout campaign, is that if you don’t work hard (every day), your campaign could fail. It’s all on you to:

  • Write a really good book

  • Promote like your bank account depends on it

That dangerous fine line

At this point, I have to interject something very important. There’s a fine line between you promoting like a pro and coming off as a pushy salesman. Remember, this isn’t just a Buy my book campaign (which NONE of your books should be treated as such). This is about:

  • Being creative

  • Reaching out to garner support for your campaign and supporting other campaigns as well

  • Making the most out of your promotional efforts

  • Promote yourself more than your books (get ‘em interested in you and they, in turn, become interested in your work)

  • Finding new places and groups to interact

  • Actually interacting with others

  • Interacting with others

  • Interacting with others

  • You see a theme here?

  • You should

In other words, all those things you’ve heard every successful indie author say, it’s time to put them into practice.

Before you begin your campaign

A good friend of mine (and very successful indie author), Armand Rosamilia, instructed me to first give this Kindle Boards thread a read…well before submitting my book. It’s a very long thread and I read every page. Consider that thread required reading before you dive in. You’ll find out what to do and (in some cases) what not to do.

The Kindle Scout program is crucial step for indie authors wanting to take that next step forward in their career as an author. I highly recommend you give it a go…just be prepared for a grueling thirty days of promoting and hair pulling.

It’s worth it…trust me.