The Amazon Kindle Scout campaign for THE LAST EMPRESS is finally over. So here’s a summary of my report from Amazon: …thanks, but we’re not going to publish your book.
As an author, it’s my job to look to all possibilities to get my works in the hands of readers. The Amazon Kindle Scout program was one of those possibilities: a chance to earn an e-book (note, the program doesn’t cover print publishing or audio books either) publishing contract with an advance of $1.500.00 and a chance to earn 50% royalties off sales (until the 1500 is matched, of course).
The only downside (and I regret to say this program replaces the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition) is your book is put side-by-side with a host of other “works” for a 30-day voting campaign. It’s a popularity contest, with readers nominating their favorites. The most popular titles are marked “Hot”. At the end of the campaign, Amazon examines the popularity numbers (at the end, not during) and applies some other magic to determine who will earn a contract.
The results are strange. I checked my book daily and it was never popular until the very last day. I don’t know why this happened; I had no numbers or reports from Amazon to indicate the number of nominations or what qualifies as “hot”. I have no clue what formula Amazon applies to grant a book a publishing contract. “Pitbulls and Aliens” won a contract (and my personal award for WORST BOOK COVER EVER). Thrillers were popular. So too were women’s romances.
The home page, where readers discover books, is a DISASTER. If your book is “HOT” it shows up at the stop. If your book isn’t popular, it seeps to the bottom of a carousel depending on its category. Some books “gamed” the categories, marking themselves as Science Fiction, Literature, Historical, Thriller, and Comedy so it would appear on the home page repeatedly. I have no idea if this helped or hurt a book. There are no reviews on the Scout pages for my title, so you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into as a reader.
I took charge of advertising my book to make it popular. I wrote blog articles, I read other people’s blog articles. I tweeted about it. I paid for marketing campaigns from several firms to promote THE LAST EMPRESS on Scout to generate interest. I mostly paid for Twitter campaigns, which I know are annoying, but I’m a lousy Twitterer (if that’s a word) and I prefer someone else do it. Again, I have no numbers from these firms to tell me if people clicked their links.
So what did I learn? Kindle Scout is NOT the Amazon Breakthrough Contest. There are no levels to determine if your book is making its way up the ranks, no reviews from critics, and no feedback from the site. You enter your work, it gets judged through some mysterious criteria, it may or may not win a contract. My suggestion: look at the titles on the site before submitting your own. If your work is close to what WINS a contract (not just the slush pile of what is entered), you might want to consider putting your book on Scout.
Warning: Your book is attached to Amazon for 30 days and Amazon holds an exclusive to it. This is not the same as submitting queries to publishers and looking for a response. If you submit to Scout, you cannot submit to others.
If you have an experience with Kindle Scout, I would love to post or link to it here.