Kindle Scout

kindlescout logoAmazon, in its continuing quest to come up with innovative ways for us to sell books, has created a program called Kindle Scout. Think of it as a cross between the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards and regular ol’ KDP. As with KDP, you upload your book and cover image (with a few tweaks to your info that I’ll get to in a sec), and the Zon puts it up on their site for you. But as with the ABNA, there’s a crowdsourcing component, and a prize at the end – in this case, a $1,500, five-year contract with the Zon’s new Kindle Press.

Say what you will about it, but I think Amazon’s heart is in the right place with this one. Two of the hardest things for an indie author to do are to get noticed in the Zon’s giant slush pile and to grow your fan base. Kindle Scout is all about helping you market your work.

Here’s what I mean. This is the first page of the submission process.

KindleScout1

Book title, author name, description, and categories are all familiar to anybody who’s dealt with KDP before. But there’s an additional box for a “one-liner.” They’re looking for a 45-character tagline for your book – in other words, a marketing slogan. For my book Seasons of the Fool, I came up with, “A Fool’s journey begins with a single step….”

The book description box, too, is looking for characters – 500 of them, to be exact – instead of words. If the Kindle Scout vetting process is anything like the one for the ABNA, the first cut probably relies pretty heavily on a punchy blurb. Our resident blurb doctor, K.S. Brooks, tells you how to write one here.

KindleScout2

On the next screen, (see above) there’s space for a 500-character bio (again, characters instead of words). And the Zon is offering you the chance for a three-question interview. The Q&A is optional, but you’d be crazy not to do it. Your answers might intrigue a reader enough to nominate your book. And one of the questions is, “Where can readers find out more about you?” Hello, free publicity for your blog/website/mailing list! I’d recommend picking your questions from the list and drafting your answers ahead of time, as the Zon only gives you 300 characters for each response.

The Zon also requires you to draft a thank-you note, which they will send when your campaign is over to all the readers who nominated your book. And they suggest that you include links in your note for your website and/or mailing list, so all those folks can find you again. Hello, more free publicity!

Once you’ve uploaded your author photo, book cover (which needs to be bigger than a KDP cover – 2820 x 4500 pixels is optimal), and manuscript file, the Zon will take a day or two to go over everything and let you know whether you’ve been accepted. In the meantime, you can start figuring out how to get everybody you know to nominate your book.

Here’s the Kindle Scout page for Seasons of the Fool.

KindleScoutFinalfinalLooks pretty nice, don’t you think? And yes, they’ll let you nominate your own book. Don’t ask me how I know that.

[Feel free to click through and throw a vote Lynne’s way! – The Admins]

Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. But she began as a fantasy writer (in the second grade), and is back at it today. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Learn more about Lynne at her blog and at her Amazon author page.

38 thoughts on “Kindle Scout”

  1. Very interesting, and thorough description. I think you’re right – this us a good looking post for nomination and seems like a good marketing tool. Let us know how it goes. Thanks Lynne and good luck!

  2. I love the idea. If this gives writers a chance to be heard then I say, hallelujah, it’s about time we unknowns get a chance to be heard. It
    is a rough go out there trying to get your foot in the door with a publishing house, because it’s doubly rough getting the foothold on an agent who will help you get your foot in that door. I love being a writer, but the pitfalls of all the work to get noticed is grueling and so many rejections are so disappointing, especially if those rejections are based on silly notations, like a missing comma, or double spaced after a period. So good luck everyone on making this a successful endeavor.

    1. Thanks, Vicki. 🙂 Amazon certainly did a lot to level the playing field when they started KDP, but then it seemed like they took away many indies’ chances for success when they changed the algorithms and stopped counting free sales at the same level as paid. I have no way to know whether this program will have the same magic as KDP did when it first began, but I hope it will be a better tool than Countdown Deals.

  3. Thanks for the intro to the program, Lynne. I’d heard about it in passing, but had thought it sounded kinda gimmicky. However, it’s actually more thoughtful than my initial impression. I like that they force you to get pithy and marketable in the info you fill out, and love that Thank You note at the end.

      1. You can vote if you’re not an American, as long as you have an Amazon.com account. But as an author, yes, right now you can only participate if you’re in the US. Apologies — I should have included that in my post.

  4. Not only do I think this is an awesome thing for writers, but I think it is a goldmine for readers. This is how I think Kindle Scout is going to be successful for both.

    As a reader, I’m always looking for new stuff to read. With Kindle Scout I have already recommended 3 books I thought had great ideas and an entertaining preview. As a reader I get free copies of those books if they are published. For the writer, I will post reviews of any free book I get, and if they don’t get picked up, I will be looking to purchase copies to read now that my pallet has been teased.

    Well played Amazon, well played indeed.

    1. I like the way you think, Mike. 🙂 And I agree with you. The thing about Kindle Scout for readers is that it adds a level of (possibly minimal) vetting that the regular KDP doesn’t have. I suspect Amazon developed it, in part, to combat the lingering perception that indie books are nothing but a vast slushpile of crap.

    1. Aww, thanks, Aron. 🙂 Yes, any book you submit cannot have been published anywhere else before, including Smashwords or KDP. However, they’re okay with you publishing an excerpt on your blog or on something like Wattpad as a way to advertise your book. 🙂

  5. Good luck with your book, Lynne! I’ve seen it hanging out on the Hot & Trending list (my book, RUNNING FROM THE PAST, is also in the program). Like you, I think I was motivated to participate by the promise of getting included in Amazon’s efficient marketing engine, should my book be lucky enough to get a contract. I like your excerpt; I hope they choose a bunch of books to move forward with!

  6. Is there a special page you need to upload at? Or is this just on our regular KDP uploading page?

  7. Excellent tutorial, as always, Lynne, and I do wish Seasons of the Fool all the best.

    However, there is one problem with Kindle Scout. As you mention, “to get noticed in the Zon’s slush pile” is almost impossible, but with this program, it seems to me that Amazon is taking the place of traditional publishers. Instead of employing (and paying) staff to sort through the slush pile, Amazon is going to get its customers do that work for it. On one hand, this is very democratic – books the first 5,000 words of which are genuinely popular will be published and, we can assume, promoted. On the other hand, doesn’t this mean that Amazon is actually going to out-trad the trads? Those books which Amazon fails to pick up, which will be the vast majority, can still be self-published, condemned to vanish along with all the other millions.
    Times change, of course, and markets develop (or not), but I think I preferred it when Amazon just sold stuff…

    1. Thanks, Chris. I think this is going to be a problem with any program Amazon implements. Your argument certainly came up when the Zon started its publishing imprints. This new program doesn’t have the same feel to it — I think the bar to admission is set lower, for one thing.

  8. This strikes me as a cheaper, easier-to-manage version of the ABNA competition — I have to wonder if that might just go away now.

    I have noticed that Amazon’s own imprints get very good marketing play, often appearing in browsing pages much sooner than books that are selling better and higher-rate, though I may be missing some element that’s not obvious at first glance. Still, it seems to me that a talented indie writer is sooner or later going to be driven to either sign up with Amazon through some avenue, or branch out to the other retailers.

    1. I know a lot of people feel that way, Sandra. My feeling is that as long as I keep selling books at Amazon, I’m going to keep publishing my stuff there. And right now, they’re doing a better job at giving indies marketing tools than any other sales venue, with the exception of coupons at Smashwords. I’m trying really hard here not to be an Amazon cheerleader — the Zon is in business to make money, of course, and there’s always a chance that they’ll decide we’re not making them enough money and will change the rules on us. But until then…why not take advantage of it?

  9. Well done, Lynne, great tutorial and thanks for the info; however, as Tui pointed out, that still leaves us non Americans out. And, just like the deal with payments (no US bank account, you wait and wait for your money), who knows when, if ever, they will make it inclusive.

    Excellent post, Lynne.

  10. Thank you for the detailed information Lynne. Another avenue to try to get our books out to the masses. True, the genres are limited now, but I’m hoping they will expand those.

    Good luck with your book; I nominated you. 🙂

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