After my latest novel, THE WRITER was chosen for publication, I have had many current and/or aspiring authors message me in the last few weeks to ask my opinion on the Kindle Scout Publishing experience.
At first I attempted to answer each inquiry separately, but for the sake of time and sanity, I’ve decided to answer them all as best I can here, as well as then have this blog post be a resource for potential future questions on the subject.
So with that said, here it goes!
First, let me say right up front I consider Kindle Scout/Kindle Press to be a remarkable opportunity for both established and aspiring authors. Having an ebook distribution as a resource is excellent for any author. Presently, there is no other publishing platform with the reach and influence of Amazon and Kindle Press. That is likely why there have been a number of authors who already had previous publishing contracts with other firms who are now attempting to be chosen by Kindle Press.
Writing success not only demands a good story, but access to a reading audience, and it’s difficult to beat Amazon when it comes to accessing a potential audience. They try to ensure all their readers have a great experience with the help of strategies that can measure and analyze customer experience and satisfaction, which can also prove to be an advantage for the authors who publish with them.
Let’s look at the actual components of the Kindle Scout platform then, shall we?
The initial setup is quite simple. Upload a story/manuscript that has not yet been published for profit anywhere else. Create a “blurb” to accompany the story, as well as a cover image, and then upload onto the Kindle Scout site. After a short review period, Kindle Scout will, if it finds your work acceptable to its basic quality standards, create a landing page for your work.
You are now a part of the introductory Kindle Scout experience.
Now comes the marketing portion of this month-long endeavor, what some authors have called the most difficult part. You send your book link, which includes a lengthy free excerpt, to as many fans/followers/friends, as possible. The hope is that readers will look at your excerpt and then nominate your story for publication. If enough readers do so, your book page is featured on Kindle Scout’s “Hot & Trending” list, which in turn, likely generates a few more eyes looking at your work.
I can’t speak to other authors’ efforts, but rather will say that for me, marketing was an everyday process of social media reminders, ads, and blog posts. I will also admit that already having built up a reasonably-sized audience via my previous novels likely helped a great deal in this endeavor. (THANK-YOU READERS!) It’s great when you have an audience to engage with your content on social media platforms like Instagram, but if you’re just starting out then it can be difficult to gain traction straight away. Many authors have decided to try nitreo in order to organically grow their following so that they can give their presence and reach online a boost. This way, they can give their books a fighting chance at getting noticed.
Within a couple hours of my Kindle Scout page going “live”, it remained on the Hot & Trending list for the entirety of the 30-day campaign. Still, it was an exhausting effort as I found myself checking that list repeatedly throughout the day and then hoping it would be enough to catch the attention of the all-powerful Kindle Scout review team who ultimately, are the ones to decide “yeah or nay” on one’s work.
Adding to that stress of potential rejection is that it is a rejection that is to be shared by everyone who nominated your book for publication via a notification to them from Kindle Scout. Your failure will be known to all involved in your campaign.
I’m not one to be easily unnerved, but when my 30-day Kindle Scout campaign came to an end, despite its success on the Hot & Trending list, I was a nervous wreck. I had already read accounts of other authors who had experienced similar Hot & Trending success who were NOT chosen for publication, and as the days ticked off without any word from Kindle Publishing, started to fear THE WRITER had not found a happy home with the publisher.
And then came a notification from Megan indicating Kindle Press was excited to accept THE WRITER for a publishing contract:
Dear D.W. Ulsterman,
Congratulations! Our readers have spoken, and your book The Writer has been selected for publication by the Kindle Press Team. We’re excited to be working with you and eager to get started on your upcoming book launch.
Megan indicated it was a panel of readers who go through the various stories and then choose those they think are the best fit for the publisher – very similar to the process one finds in the longtime brick-and-mortar book publishers.
Yeah, I did a happy dance.
The manuscript was sent off for professional editing, a process which took nearly two weeks. During that time I set up my payment account with Kindle Press and waited for the edited version to make its way back to me.
And then it did.
The editor did a remarkably thorough job, giving encouragement for the things they liked, (and they really liked the story, which helped to ease the uncertainty all writers have regarding their own work) and added suggestions for those parts they thought could be improved. Some of those suggestions I took, while others I ignored as I thought they might compromise my own vision of the story. All in all it was near-seamless, and very helpful process, one I think is among the most valuable of all within the Kindle Scout Publishing experience. It is amazing how much the publishing industry has progressed in terms of technology and having a reliable book scanning service makes any author’s life easy!
A few weeks prior to the book’s launch, free versions were sent out to all those who nominated the work for publication. Within days, the reviews began to roll in, allowing the book to already have several reviews on its Amazon book page by the time of its general-release launch date.
Once that launch was initiated, the Kindle Press team emailed me the details of their initial promotion efforts for the work. Forty-eight hours later, the fruits of those efforts became evident as the book’s sales ranking quickly began to move up the proverbial Kindle ladder, breaking the top 1000 within its first week of release.
Those of you who have been at this writing game long enough know how many sales it takes to push past Amazon’s top 1000.
THE WRITER was selling – a lot. The reviews continued to come in as well, nearly all of them very positive. (Thank you!)
Soon it will be a month since the book went live. In one of their communications to me, Kindle Publishing indicated a larger promotion campaign will take place after the 90-day mark. I assume this is to allow the publisher to gauge if the story is generating an audience, thus proving itself worthy of said promotion. Again, this is very similar to how the brick and mortar publishing firms go about promoting their books. Some authors are rewarded with significant advertising campaigns, while others see their books all but forgotten.
Let’s hope THE WRITER is deemed worthy!
Is the Kindle Scout Publishing experience a worthwhile one?
Will I attempt to continue working with Kindle Press for my future novels?
I haven’t decided yet. After a few more months to see how THE WRITER does/is treated, I’ll have my answer.
Until then, good luck to everyone and your own writing endeavors.
I wish all of you happiness, health, and success…
D.W. ULSTERMAN is a bestselling author and socio-political commentator.
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His newest novel, THE WRITER is available in e-book and paperback now!
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