Author Interviews

How to Succeed in Kindle Scout Without Really Trying

July 8, 2017

How to Succeed in Kindle Scout Without Really Trying

Today, I’m back with part two of my interview with Rita Stradling. (Part one is here.) We discuss the Kindle Scout program, which is kind of a crowd-sourced way to get your book published by an Amazon imprint—or, at least, that’s how they sell it.

Rita talks about things she didn’t know about the program before she won, what exactly the program entails, and how she did (or did not) promote her Kindle Scout campaign. It’s a great listen for anyone curious about what goes on behind the scenes of Amazon’s publishing as well as authors considering publishing through any Amazon imprint.

If you have any questions after listening, drop them in the comments and I’ll forward them to Rita.

As always, there’s also a transcript below the jump.

RS: The reason that I submitted to Kindle Scout was mostly because I wanted to be part of the Amazon main publishing branch.

I also wanted the experience of being published but not giving up too many of my rights.

You get the advance. You get editing help. You get the promotions. You have your book published through a publisher. They do all the polishing. They give you support.

But then, at the same time, you get to pick your own cover. You don’t have, always, the final decision, but you, in many ways, do. They give you a full editing, but you can choose which edits you take, versus just editing it for you.

The basics of the program:

You submit a copyedited book. It has to be copyedited. You submit a cover, a blurb, and a tagline to the Kindle Scout website.

They don’t do any initial evaluation on the quality of your book. They just make sure that everything is appropriate.

Your book is posted for 30 days. In this time, people get to check out your book. They get to say if they think that it should be published.

They see … I think it’s the first 10% of the book. They see the cover. They see the blurb and the tagline.

JK: So they don’t know how it ends unless they nominate it and get a copy.

RS: Yeah. They only get the first couple chapters, I think. They kinda get an idea of what the book is about and how it’s written and what about it that they like.

And if they nominate your book and it does get published, they get a free copy afterward. That’s the incentive for the reader.

Everyone that voted for my book, as soon as it was complete, they got a free copy.

JK: Did you do anything besides uploading your book to Kindle Scout, as far as trying to get people to go there or anything like that?

RS: To be 100% honest, I just put it on there. But I wasn’t sure that I wanted it to win.

I wanted to try it out. I wanted to be part of the Amazon publishing, but I was not completely sold on whether or whether not I wanted to win.

I was promoting the book on my own, but more as a book than the Kindle Scout campaign. Before I had it on Kindle Scout, I had it on Net Galley, and a lot of the reviewers mentioned that it was on Kindle Scout. I think that that did help get some traffic there.

Also, I put an ad up on Xpresso Reads just saying, “Nominate my book on Kindle Scout.” And she did a really beautiful job with the graphics.

Besides that ad and just that bloggers mentioned it, I mentioned it to my followers and my friends and fans maybe once or twice. But I wasn’t trying to direct traffic there as much as I could have, because I wasn’t completely sold on whether or whether not I wanted it to get through.

But it did do really well on there. It was on the Hot and Trending list for all but a couple hours.

JK: How do you get on that list?

RS: It’s just how many people nominate your book per hour.

The interesting thing about Hot and Trending …

The way that they make you think it goes is that, if your book’s really popular, it’s gonna be chosen for publication.

But there’s an author. His name is Lincoln Cole, and he is probably the best resource. His website, he wrote a book. He has an article on his website. People that won Kindle Scout and people that didn’t win Kindle Scout all reported their numbers for how many hours they were on Hot and Trending, how many views they had.

On average, the people that were on Hot and Trending more and had more views were selected more often. But there were some people that were on Hot and Trending the entire time, had an incredible amount of views, and weren’t selected. And there were some people that were on Hot and Trending only a couple hours, had very few views, almost nothing, and were selected.

I think, on average, the books that are more popular would be selected, but it’s not like you need a certain amount of hours to be noticed by the Kindle Press editors. That’s just one aspect. I think, in the end, it really depends on what they think of your book.

JK: That’s actually kind of surprising, but I guess, if you think about it, it makes sense.

RS: Another aspect of that, too, is there were some books that looked incredible. The covers were amazing. The blurbs were just fantastic. And they were on Hot and Trending the entire time, and they didn’t get selected.

I mean, there’s always a possibility … The first 10% isn’t a good qualifier of how good the book is, but my guess is, too, that that book was in a genre that they weren’t focusing on at the moment.

I think, like any publisher, they look for what they think they can sell at the moment, what they wanna focus on. They take into account how popular your book is, but the bottom line is if they like your book and if they think they can sell it.

That’s just my interpretation, though.

JK: I mean, that makes sense to me, so we’re gonna go with it. Just like the science. It’s fact now.

What are the benefits of getting published through Amazon?

RS: They do a lot of promotion for you. They’ll run promotions. About 90 days after you’re published, they’ll run a big promotion for your book—or be part of a big promotion for your book. They have a vested interest in your book doing well, so that always helps.

I was hoping maybe it would open some doors, in the future when I’m a little bit more established, to have access to other branches in the Amazon publishing. That’s just my hope, my dream, but we’ll see about it.

I had a lot of curiosity about the other side there, I guess.

JK: That makes sense. I’ve heard rumors that Amazon favors their own books in searches or things like that. I’m not really sure, so I was wondering if you had any insight or information about that.

RS: The communication is okay.

I know that, on the release week, when you look up science fiction books, my book was on Readers’ Favorites. So were a lot of other Kindle Scout books. That makes me think that, yes, they do put your book up higher, maybe.

But I can’t guarantee that. They don’t tell you. They’re not like, “We’re gonna put your book up higher than everyone else’s.” But you kinda get that feeling a little bit.

Belle raises an eyebrow

It’s definitely the books that are more successful that they promote more, even within their own company. And they definitely do promote your book.

JK: Just on their website, or do they do it offsite too?

RS: My book had a promotion. They just emailed me and told me, “Your book’s on this site.”

I know that some other authors that have been in the Kindle Scout program that have done really well, they’ve had BookBub. They’ve had different deals. They definitely do promote your book offsite.

Just because you’re in the program, though, it’s not a guarantee that you’re gonna be successful.

If you’re successful, they promote you more, like any publisher.

But you definitely do get a leg up no matter what.


Want to give your manuscript the best possible chance of succeeding at Kindle Scout?

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7 Comments

  • Reply DJ Sakata July 9, 2017 at 12:01 am

    I had wondered how that worked!

  • Reply Cassie's Library July 9, 2017 at 12:40 am

    This is something that I was definitely interested in learning more about. I have always wanted to write a book and had looked at some of the Amazon publishing means. I am glad to get this insight into that program.

    • Reply Jazzi July 9, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      Write your book! :)

  • Reply Kayla Cox | Epicfied July 9, 2017 at 11:09 am

    This is so interesting. I’m assuming this is different than self-publishing with Amazon?

    • Reply Jazzi July 9, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      Yes! When a book gets a publishing contract through Kindle Scout, it’s basically traditionally published, but Amazon takes a more collaborative approach than most traditional publishers.

  • Reply Katie July 9, 2017 at 11:17 am

    I’ve always wondered how this works from the author perspective. I’m a very active nominator (my Kindle Scout leaderboard rank is 37 at the moment), so it’s interesting to learn about it from the author side.

    • Reply Jazzi July 9, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      I love having you around for that reason exactly.

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