Friday, March 18, 2016

The KindleScout Experience: Part I

Since its inception, KindleScout has been received with cautious, mixed response from independent authors all around, and for good reason. KindleScout is essentially crowdsource publishing, a wild new take on what it means to be good enough for publication. But, without directly participating, there's a lot a writer might miss about this peculiar publishing program. And that's what I'm here for! My new novel, War Town, has been accepted into the program and just when live this morning. As the 45-day KindleScout process goes on with me, I'll be adding new parts to "The KindleScout Experience" blog. This is part one, enjoy.

What is KindleScout? KindleScout is Amazon's new attempt at a publishing contest, the replacement for the now defunct Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. For years, the ABNA was the award to win if you were an indie author. But, not many actually won. One person per year if my recollection doesn't deceive me. So, with a company as explosively expansive as Amazon, it makes sense that they wanted something that produced better results faster. Enter KindleScout. 

A writer, such as myself and some of you reading this, can submit a manuscript of at least 50,000 words in the genres of Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, general Literature & Fiction, Romance, Sci Fi and Fantasy, and YA/Teen. Along with the manuscript, you add it most everything else you would if you were publishing in the classic KDP style. Cover, one-sentence blurb, long description, genre and all that. Below you can see a snap of what the submit-page looks like. Any KDP authors out there will notice lots of similarities. Categories are the same, entries are the same, most everything is the same. But there are a few important differences. For one, you need a one-liner. And when they mean one line they mean it. It can only be a single sentence long. As you can see below, my short one-liner took up all but 16 remaining characters. Another big difference from KindleScout and KDP is the long-form description. You only get 500 characters which, if you know twitter, isn't much. Whatever book blurb you have might be way too long for KindleScout. If you're thinking of submitting to KindleScout, you'd better be concise with your blurb writing.

Once you get through the submitting process, you'll be taken to the policy accepting page, as with many other sites. Normally, I would breeze right by this, as it is pages upon pages of legalese, but this book is my baby, I don't want to land it anywhere I don't want it. And, if I wanted to blog about KindleScout I ought to be thorough. So I perused the long document for a bit. It goes through what it means to publish with KindleScout. If your campaign is successful, you'll get a 5 year deal with Kindle Press and a $1,500.00 advance against your royalties paid shortly after your acceptance for publication, and a 50% royalty rate should you out earn your advance. As far as advances go, KindleScout's is kind of low, but for a single book deal in a world where advance sizes are always going down, it isn't too bad. Royalty wise, you won't get much better than 50% outside of indie publishing. Some may be cautious at the 50% rate when KDP gives 70%, but Kindle Press does more for your book than KDP does. It's not just a new publishing platform, it's marketing.

Marketing is a particularly odd portion of KindleScout. They don't seem to list specifics on how they'll market your book, other than your book will be added into the Amazon marketing list. I assume they'll send out emails about your book, but beyond that it is a fog of vague language. But, that's not to say it is too shady. They all but guarantee solid sales through your contract. The KindleScout contract clearly states that, if a book doesn't earn $25,000 over the 5 year contract, the author has six months to opt out of the whole program and their rights revert to them immediately. In a world of entrapping contracts and shady deals, this is refreshingly straightforward. If sales are particularly abysmal through Kindle Press, you can opt out after 2 years. Five years might seem like a long time, but with the 2 year addition, they can't really entrap you in a piss poor contract. If they don't treat your book right, you can just take it back when the time comes, no strings attached (or so they say). Now, KindleScout hasn't even been around for 5 years, not even 2 if I remember the launch date right. So, whether or not it is truly as easy as they say to opt out of the program due to low sales has yet to be seen, but the way they say it, it seems that way. All that being said, there are some interesting additions to it all. As the agreement seems to read, Kindle Press and Amazon wants to take over ALL of marketing, and the way they state it makes it seem like the author isn't allowed to do much marketing themselves. If this is correct, it makes me a bit more hesitant, as I am always someone who wants in on the marketing of my books, to make sure they are as successful as they can possibly be. Whether or not that is the case, time will tell.

As for my book in particular, it just launched today! KindleScout let me know a day in advance when it would release so I could get my promotional ducks all in a row, which was nice. War Town officially launched into the 30 day (although it says 29 days left on the site) crowdsource publishing campaign. I'll be keeping up on blogging as the process goes on and I learn more about what all goes into KindleScout and how things go as the campaign gets further in. This was just an introduction, and I look forward to informing authors all around about KindleScout, so they can better decide if participation in the program is right for them or not. As I see it now, KindleScout is a cool new take on publishing, but doesn't seem like it would be right for every writer by any means, like people protective over their rights or writers in genres not represented by KindleScout right now. 

Once your submission gets through, this is what your book page will look like. I've got to admit, it's pretty snazzy looking! Beneath that are the sample chapters. They say the first 5,000 words but they cut mine around 4,000. A lot happens in those first 4,000 words so I'm fine with it, but to the other writers out there, be aware that their definition of 5,000 words might be different from yours. Overall, this is just the beginning, and as things go on I'll be sure to inform everyone.

Look out for "The KindleScout Experience: Part II" when it comes and, of course, check out, read, and maybe even nominate War Town on KindleScout HERE

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