Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My experience with Kindle Scout

As I wrote in an earlier blog post, Kindle Scout is an opportunity for writers to receive a $1,500 advance and have their books electronically published by Kindle Press. I learned of the program just as I was about to independently publish my mystery, Death in a Family Business, and felt I had nothing to lose by participating.

I uploaded my cover, text, my carefully crafted book description, and answers to three questions about the book. (You may still be able to see my entry here, although my campaign ended.) Once you've uploaded your book, you have 30 days to get as many relatives, friends, and strangers to nominate it as possible. I wrote everyone I knew, posted on LinkedIn, on Facebook, and asked for nominations.

The book was not selected. I don't know why. Not enough nominations? A weak cover? First chapters too slow? The Kindle staff's judgement of its potential? An Amazon algorithm that forecasts sales? Who knows?

I do know that my book was Hot & Trending 18 percent of the time it was up (130 hours out of 720) because after the campaign Kindle Scout gave me access to the statistics with two attractive charts:

Kindle did not, however, tell me how the statistics relate to their decision whether to publish the book. I do know that 214 page views came from external sources; 356 from Kindle Scout, but how many of those Scout page views turned into nominations? That is, I am sure that my relatives and friends nominated my book, but how many Scouters read the blurb, scanned the first couple chapters, and then took a pass? I have no idea. And would it make any difference in the selection?

Nevertheless, I believe the Kindle Scout program is worth a writer's consideration. It costs nothing to enter. Whether a book is selected or no, what you have to do amounts to a pre-publishing publicity campaign—a good thing. If you are not selected and go ahead and publish on Createspace (another Amazon company) as I have done, Kindle notifies everyone the book is available. If people buy, read, and review my book, that would be even a better thing.

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