My Kindle Scout Adventure, Part 1

kindlescout logoI needed to do something different. My book sales had stalled and I was searching for ways to connect with readers – new readers. So, at the beginning of September I submitted my latest, unpublished manuscript – The Dead List – to Amazon’s Kindle Scout program.

Here’s how it works:

You submit your edited (50,000 words plus) novel with cover, synopsis, and your bio.

The Scout team lets you know within a couple of days whether they accept your book.

Once accepted it’s live on the Kindle Scout site for 30 days.

During that time it’s up to you to generate page views and try to remain in the coveted “Hot and Trending” category.

Readers are asked to read a short preview and if they feel it’s worthy of publication click on the “Nominate Me” button.

Once the 30 days has expired the Scout editors will take a few business days to let you know whether or not they’ll publish you.

The submission checklist is here.

If published you receive a $1,500 advance, a 50% royalty rate, and a guarantee of earning at least $25,000 over the 5 year term of the contract. Plus you’ll receive marketing support from Amazon. You can check out all the terms here.

And, (again, if Scout publishes you), readers who nominated your book receive a free advance e-book copy (with the hopes that they post a review) before it’s available to the public.

If Scout declines to publish they still alert everyone who nominated your book that it’s available once you release it yourself, and they link your Scout page to your Amazon product page.

Even if you generate a gazillion page views and stay in the “Hot and Trending” category for the entire thirty days of your campaign, there is still no guarantee of being offered a contract. The Scout team still has to decide whether they want to publish you. But, the more activity you generate, the more likely you are to attract interest from them.Kindle Scout part 1Here’s how I ran my campaign for The Dead List:

  • On the first day I sent a mail out to all of my newsletter subscribers asking them to check out the preview on my Scout page and if they thought it merited publication, click on “Nominate Me”.
  • I posted on Facebook six times during the campaign (posts not ads). Again, I didn’t ask for nominations. I asked readers to check out the preview and if they felt the book was worthy of publication to please nominate it. I did not ask for blind “likes” or nominations.
  • I wrote a blog detailing the first eight days of my campaign and posted it on my author website.
  • A ton of my fellow authors, and readers of my previous books, helped repost, tweet, and in some cases even made phone calls to help spread the word. The support was phenomenal.

Halfway through my campaign there were two days where I felt as though it was fading. I was barely hanging on in the Hot and Trending category. I needed to find other ways to spread the word.

Here’s what I did:

  • I’m a member of a Facebook group whose members have the same last name as I. So, I let “The Crosbie Clan” group know of my campaign. Those guys totally wanted to check out a Crosbie book.
  • I re-posted the blog I’d published on my author site to Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • I’d had some good fortune with folks in a Facebook gamers group with a promotion I ran a few years ago. Some of the members had fallen in love with one of my books and were very assertive in suggesting to other members that they should check out my work. I touched base with the moderator of the group and she ran with it. Again, she asked folks to check out the preview and decide whether or not to endorse my campaign.
  • I included the link to my Scout page on some of my existing book’s product pages via Author Central. I placed the link quite high on the page for maximum visibility.
  • And, I let Scout find traffic too. My book was listed under its category – Mystery and Suspense. This gives random readers who are browsing a way to find you.

Scout lists where your traffic is coming from so it was easy to track what was working. So, at two weeks in I felt like I’d hit my groove. The initial excitement had subsided and I was feeling okay. My campaign stats from the previous day were live every morning at 7 am PST, and I actually managed to hold off until mid-morning some days before checking them. The Hot and Trending category reboots once an hour at about twenty minutes past, and some hours I didn’t even check to see if I was still hanging in there. KindleScout hot and trending statisticsI was just grooving along when I received an email and then a phone call. An agent from a very large literary agency wanted to speak to me about The Dead List. So, we spoke on the phone. It was a very interesting conversation.

Mr. Agent, who also happened to be the son of the large agency’s chairman, was a very nice man. After seeing an article on Kindle Scout in Publisher’s Weekly, he scoped out my book (and probably others too), and wondered whether I might be interested in having him handle negotiations with Amazon if they accepted me. I read over the list of authors his company handled and then sat back down in my chair. It was very cool to attract that kind of attention but the Scout contracts are straightforward and I decided if they picked me, I’d do what I’ve done since I started publishing in 2011 – I’d trust Amazon. The agent did not seem to have any other interest in my work other than the Amazon negotiation.

More happened, much more, but that will have to be in Part Two. Please check back on Thursday (two days from now), and I’ll tell you the rest of my Kindle Scout adventure. You’re going to want to come back, believe me, because it really has been an adventure.

[You can read Part 2 of Martin’s Kindle Scout adventure here.]

Author: Martin Crosbie

Martin Crosbie is the administrator of and writer of seven published novels. His self-publishing journey has been mentioned in Publisher’s Weekly, Forbes Online Magazine, and Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. You can learn more about Martin on his Amazon author page.

52 thoughts on “My Kindle Scout Adventure, Part 1”

  1. Oh, that agent query is fascinating. An attempt to scoop up an easy 15% without doing any of the real work agents typically do is what it sounds like. Congratulations on your contract!

    1. That’s exactly what I thought! As far as I know, the Kindle Scout contracts are non-negotiable, so the agent wouldn’t be able to do anything for you.

      Makes me _more_ convinced to stay away from agents and traditional publishing.

  2. I’m super interested in Part 2 (also) Martin, looking fwd to reading it as I’ve facilitated a few months deciding whether to try that route with my (nearly completed) new book.

    My wife’s maiden name is Crosby (Vermont lineage, we’re in Texas), so wishing you all the best from that angle too, lol!

    I’d read another Scout adventure account via Passive Voice, and it was mentioned that Romance seemed to do best in that program, but that this author’s work (may have been you?) was in the thriller category and still did well, just not as easily well as the romance books.

    Did you experience, or were aware, of any of those distinctions?

    Either way, once again, all the best 🙂


    1. I’m not sure which genres do best. There seems to be a pretty even mix but I’m not sure. My book is a suspense/thriller and they have categories for Literary Fiction, YA, and Sci Fi/Fantasy also. You can also submit a book that’s part of a series, and not necessarily the first book in the series.
      Good luck with your book. I totally recommend trying the program. In the second part of the article I talk about how they can help with your launch even if your book is not accepted. So, for me there was no downside.
      And those Crosbies sure helped me. Hopefully they’ll enjoy the book when it’s published.

  3. Thank you for sharing. I intended to submit my cozy mystery, but the word count was not high enough. So, now I plan on submitting the romance novel I’m currently writing. Thanks again for sharing, and I look forward to Part 2.

  4. I’m thrilled that your book was accept, Martin. 🙂 Huge congrats again! I’m thinking of trying this out as well with my upcoming thriller. Thanks for posting your experience.

    1. Thank you Kim. Good luck with your thriller. As mentioned I don’t think there’s anything to lose. If they hadn’t accepted me they would still have alerted everyone who voted for me when I released it on my own. Would make for a strong launch either way. Thanks for your support!

  5. As always Martin, I appreciate how you’re willing to share all the details of your success and pay it forward. Having watched The Dead List since you put it out there, I’m thrilled for your success. You are a great writer and marketer extraordinaire…in a good, authentic way:-)

  6. Congrats on your good job! I know exactly who the agent was….my daughter got that same call when she hit the USA Today list by the same agent. She declined, too.

    LOL, but me, I’d kill to be represented by them.

  7. Nice post. Thanks for sharing. Glad this was a positve for you. Very exciting and uplifting for us Indies who need a little uplife every now and again. You handled it well and it surely paid off. Good wishes for the success of The Dead List Martin.

  8. Congrats, Martin, and thanks for the report. Looks like the key is to have very broad support, which is what I suspected from my own attempt. (Also, Amazon didn’t have those analytics available when the program was first introduced. Very interesting!)

    I wish I could say I was surprised that an agent called you to offer to negotiate a cut-and-dried contract with Amazon for 15% of the take, but… 😉

    Looking forward to reading part two!

  9. Thank you Lynne. It’s an interesting process. There were others who had more support than I did – consistent hours in Hot and Trending and a ton of page views, but they still didn’t make it through. So, you just never know how it’s going to play out.

  10. Sounds exciting, Martin. I didn’t know they provided authors all that info about their traffic, etc. Thanks for sharing and can’t wait to see part 2.

  11. Thanks for sharing that, Martin! Very interesting. So you sort of lose out on the eventual royalty rate with this mode, but gain in terms of Amazon backing your publicity… pretty good trade-off, I guess! This will be an interesting journey to watch 🙂
    Good luck, mate!

    1. Yes, and from discussions I’ve had with previous Scout winners the love doesn’t end with your launch. Amazon continue to include Scout winners in promotions long after the book has been released. With the following that you have Tony I’m sure you’d make a major splash. Thanks for dropping by.

  12. Congratulations, Martin. Look forward to part 2.
    KS has opened up to other countries, including Australia. Now I just have to write a fantastic book too. 😀

    1. Excellent. Actually if you scroll back you can see the previous winners and I believe there is an Aussie author who was published by Scout. Good luck with your book Dale!

  13. It sounds like a wonderful deal. Can’t help but notice that even Amazon is really looking for people who have a huge public relations machine of their own. So much for “winning.” You’ve been working hard on your readership for years, and once again it pays off.

    1. Thanks Gordon. There’s no question that one of the positives for Amazon is that they collect a pile of new subscribers. It’s very smart. I have no problem with that because I’m building my potential readership at the same time.

  14. Ah Martin, what’s left to say that your other admirers in the comments above me haven’t already? How about: “Holy Crap, man!! So flippin’ happy for you! Can’t wait to read the entire book,as well as Part Two of your Kindle Scout adventure. Proud to call you my friend!”

  15. This is timely for me Martin as I am pondering taking my MUCH rejected, much re-writtend/ revised/re-edited and yet and re-written (and yet still rejected) thriller on the Kindle Scout Ride. Unfortunately all the authors I know who tried it did not get accepted but felt it was “good exposure.” Once I can justify the expense of a decent cover, I may just do that. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Funny that you should mention covers. The Scout team gave me some input on my cover after I was accepted. They loved the cover but said that in order for me to qualify for all available Amazon promotions I should remove the corpse (the book is a murder mystery). So, I ditched the dead body and resubmitted.
      Good luck to you!

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