Books Magazine

Kindle Scout Myths and Reality

By Lexi Revellian @LexiRevellian
Do you remember when Amazon launched its Digital Text Platform (now KDP) back in 2010? Members of the Ancient Guild of Doom-mongers and Naysayers rushed to the internet to say no good would come of it. Result? Many cautious authors waited to see what happened before self-publishing with Amazon, thus missing the first golden years of opportunity, while we more adventurous souls, the early adopters, made small fortunes.

Now the same people are shaking their heads over Kindle Scout.

Here's Victoria Strauss in 2014 - she really should update this seriously misleading post which I'm not going to link to: "Kindle Scout seems to occupy an uneasy middle ground between publishing and self-publishing, embracing characteristics of both while offering the benefits of neither. As with a traditional publisher, you must agree to an exclusive contract that takes control of certain of your rights--but you don't get the editing, proofing, artwork, or any of the other financial investments that a traditional publisher would provide. As with self-publishing, your book is published exactly as you submit it, with no developmental input or support--but you don't have control of pricing and you receive a smaller percentage of sales proceeds than you would with KDP."

Here's Mark Gardner (after his book was not selected): "Kindle Scout is advertised as a slush pile for the Amazon imprints, and that anyone can win, but anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise. Those that already have a number of previous publications, a series, and huge social media following have the advantage. I've always considered KS to be the last resort before self-publishing. I recommend submitting to 'traditional' publishers, then KS, then self-publish."

Lincoln Cole: "What Amazon offers: they might edit it for you (which can be costly) and they might promote it for you. They don't guarantee anything and give themselves the option. Which means you have to work really hard to get the book selected, lose 20% royalties, and you MIGHT get some promotion and editing. So, is it worth it? I guess that is up to you. A lot of people say: Try a traditional publisher, then try Kindle Scout, then self-publish. Not many titles loaded onto Kindle Scout get chosen, and even if you don't get picked, it can be a part of your self-publishing marketing plan anyway."

Newbie writer David Haywood Young, in a piece that attracted very interesting comments when picked up by The Passive Voice: "To sum up: from a certain POV, this could be seen as a scheme to convince writers to submit their work and get reader feedback, in which Amazon gets to skim the most promising new fiction off the top and pay the “winners” lower royalties than they’d get otherwise."

What with Amazon-haters and disaffected writers whose books have failed to be selected, Kindle Scout is getting an undeserved bad press. This is a shame, because it's putting people off, and at the moment, Kindle Scout is the biggest opportunity out there for good authors who aren't selling as many books as they deserve to.

My KS novel, The Trouble with Time, Time Rats Book 1, has only been out for eighteen days, but I'm delighted with its rankings so far (I'll know the numbers sold at the end of May). I know it's selling better, much better, than it would have done if I'd self-published. I know that Amazon will be promoting it further down the line.

To help decide what you think of the program, you could talk to authors who are part of it. Or why not take a look at the Kindle Scout books on Amazon? You can see them here and check out how they are faring.

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