By Rachelle J. Christensen
Want a lot of exposure for your book? How about a shot at becoming a best-selling author with massive—free!—Amazon promotion? If you’ve got a fiction book, you’d better check out Kindle Scout, where readers help decide if your writing makes the grade. It’s worth every effort to get your book into the running with this one-of-a-kind promotion on the table.
Why? Well, as stated on their site,
Selected [ebooks] will be published by Kindle Press and receive a five-year renewable-terms publishing contract (you retain the print rights), a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions, and featured Amazon marketing.”
Free promotion by the world’s largest online publisher? How can you beat that?
In early 2015, Kindle Press released their very first selection of Kindle Scout ebooks, several of which went on to become Amazon best sellers (some becoming so popular that they’re already garnering fan fiction and more in under a year). As an author, I was aware of the power of Amazon, and I kept my eye on Kindle Scout. At the tail end of 2015, after studying the best strategies for winning, I threw my hat into the ring. And the good news? All that work paid off! As an online marketing consultant, I wanted other authors to know how to win a Kindle Scout contract, so I’m sharing my top tips below.
How Does it Work?
So, what is this new program all about? Kindle Scout is, on a somewhat smaller scale, the American Idol for books. Anyone who passes the basic criteria can submit their book to Kindle Scout. Once you’re approved, it’s off to the races—a thirty-day race, that is. For thirty days each Kindle Scout submission is featured in two of five categories, including Literature & Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense; Romance; Science Fiction & Fantasy; and Teen & Young Adult.
Each book gets its own campaign page featuring a sneak peek of roughly 3,500 words. Anyone with an Amazon account can simultaneously nominate up to three books for Kindle Scout. Kindle Press keeps tabs on the amount of votes, page views, and other details to see which books are getting a lot of attention. Those books go through a submission process much like any other publisher, the editorial staff deciding on the quality and viability of each book. At the end of the thirty-day campaign, Amazon notifies the author within fifteen days if their book has been selected for publication. If so, Kindle Press works with the author to prep the book and then publish it on Amazon, usually within two months.
When I jumped into the fray of Kindle Scouting at the end of 2015, I had a plan and was willing to work hard—to do whatever it took to get a publishing contract with the foremost ebook publisher in the world. When I got the news just four days after my campaign that Kindle Press would be publishing The Soldier’s Bride (now available for preorder), I was elated (and may have even cried some happy tears!).
How to Win
Now that you know a little bit about Kindle Scout, I’ll share a few tips on how to make your own Kindle Scout campaign a success.
Before you apply:
1. Your novel must be ready to publish. That means your manuscript has been through a critique group, beta readers, and a professional editor. If your book isn’t ready to submit to a mainstream publisher, it’s not ready to submit to Kindle Press. (You do not need to have your book typeset or coded for e-readers. A clean manuscript in Microsoft Word is requested.) Make sure your first 3,500 words are stellar. It’s what people will read to decide if they want to nominate your book. If there are more than three errors in the first two pages, the book is an automatic out for many people. (I personally worked with Eschler Editing through the intense process of fine-tuning my first hundred pages. I knew I had a good story overall because I got great feedback from readers, but something was still missing. I met with the Eschler editors and told them I wanted to create a best seller. The feedback they provided was priceless. I studied, I worked, I rewrote, and I took their words to heart. And at the end, my novel’s beginning showcased the treasure of the story within.)
2. Your book cover is the second most important part of your campaign—actually, it might just tie with tip number one. Hire a designer and get your cover done right! People do judge a book by its cover, and you want yours to be a winner. Make sure your title is larger than your name and that your image complements the title—that together they tell a cohesive story about genre and hook. For details on how to do this, check out this article on good cover design (and get a cover consult here).
3. The dreaded blurb. I know. We can write an 80K novel but we shudder at the thought of having to write a five-hundred-character blurb, and that’s all you get with Kindle Scout. It’s tough, but don’t wimp out on this portion. It’s equally as important as steps 1 and 2. You also need to write a forty-five-character tagline. When readers are considering whether to nominate your book, you’ll barely get a three-to-ten-second flash for them to take in your cover, your tagline, and part of your short blurb before they decide whether to click for more. For great tips on how to write killer blurbs, check out this podcast from Joanna Penn and Bryan Cohen.
After you apply:
1. Utilize your social-media presence to get the word out. I ran a $100 cash giveaway through Rafflecopter, which I posted on my blog and other platforms. The required entry was to nominate my book for Kindle Scout. Other entries included sharing the giveaway in some form, subscribing to my newsletter, etc.
2. Stay on the Hot & Trending list through continuous support and votes. Utilize your newsletter. Print business cards that have the Kindle Scout website on them and hand them out at the grocery store, the dentist’s office, the library, etc. (And don’t come across like a door-to-door salesperson. I just talked to people I knew at these places. If someone picks up on your conversation and appears interested, hand them a card.)
The bottom line: your book must be good enough to knock the socks off the editorial team at Kindle Scout. Only then will you be offered a publishing contract with Kindle Press. There’s lots more to share about the marketing benefits of Kindle Scout—whether you win the publishing contract or not!—and more insider tips on how to make your campaign shine in my free guide. Until then, make sure to check out the submission guidelines at Kindle Scout and get going on your editing and cover!
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Rachelle J. Christensen is the award-winning and best-selling author of ten books (suspense, romance, and nonfiction). Her recent work, The Soldier’s Bride, was selected for the Kindle Scout publishing award. In addition to degrees in psychology and music, she has studied at the elite Highlights Conference in New York and is also a graduate of the Steve Scott Authority Pub Academy. Rachelle enjoys online marketing and harnessing the power of social media. She has shared her secrets for low-cost internet marketing with a multi-million dollar worldwide company, publishers, and dozens of authors, including New York Times Best Seller David Farland and celebrity Merrill Osmond. To top it off, she’s a mother of five and lives on a farm in Idaho with dozens of chickens, four cats, and hopefully a dog soon. Visit www.rachellechristensen.com to learn more about upcoming books.
This article was so helpful! Thank you! My husband’s in the midst of a KS campaign right now: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1HPG86CQEF8U0
You did a great job with your campaign, Rachelle! I entered the Kindle Scout program with a book last November. It was kind of a crazy 30 days with the promotion, but really exciting too. The hardest part was waiting the 10 days after for Kindle Scout to give me their verdict. The program is a great way to get exposure that you can’t do on your own since Amazon is a massive marketing engine on it’s own. Also the contract is very fair with reversal of rights clause built in.
Going to try this. I ‘spammed’ Facebook groups for two days but got zero clicks to my page. Hugeorange has a Kindle Scout promo that got roughly 100 clicks for my book a day. I didn’t get on the hot list yet. Going to try a giveaway for $20.