This is the launch week for a young adult science fiction book called Joan the Made written by Kristen Pham. While I always enjoy celebrating my fellow indie author’s bookbirthdays, this one is special as it is the first book I helped bring to market through Amazon’s Kindle Scout Program.
I say that like I put in a lot of work.
For those who aren’t as familiar with the ever mysterious world of independent publishing, the Kindle Scout program is a way for authors to get a little financial and marketing boost from the all mighty Amazon without sacrificing all their creative control or signing away their rights for future works in the worlds they create under the guise of non-compete terms.
As I am still in the midst of rewrite, I have yet to try my hand at gaining access to the program with one of my own books, but that didn’t prevent me from seeing first hand what it can do for others.
A few months ago, around the time I was launching my last book, I discovered she’d uploaded a sample of her latest book as well as it’s cover to Kindle Scout. Now all she needed was nominations. I read through the description:
On Joan Fasces’ eighteenth birthday, she discovers that she is cloned from the famous Joan of Arc. But being cloned in America comes at a steep price. Segregated and oppressed, clones are forced to act as docile servants to the rest of the Evolved population. Joan can either run from her fate and spend the rest of her life in hiding, or she can join a Throwback rebellion populated by clones of the greatest leaders in history.
I was intrigued.
I opened the sample. The first chapter caught my attention. I am a sucker for dystopian young adult, even if I know there is bound to be things like a selection ceremony gone wrong and an angst-laden love triangle. Tropes are tropes for a reason. I saw nothing in those sample pages to make me think this book was unworthy of being considered by the powers that be. (I also happen to know that Kristen has had a short story selected as a top ten submission on Wattpad by Margaret Atwood so it was an easy bet.) I pressed a button – Nominate Me.
A few weeks later I received an email from Amazon informing me that Joan the Made had been selected for publication. Yay for Kristen! A few weeks after that I received another email from Kindle Scout. They were sending me a free advanced copy of the e-book. Yay for me!
I also saw that I’d been given a Scout Score. 10 points for nominating a book. 10 points for having a book I nominated get selected for publishing. 20 points for redeeming my free book. They weigh these points like redeeming the free stuff is the harder part.
Unfortunately, I did not think to sign up for the program using the email associated with my Amazon account which meant, I would not be able to gain an additional 40 points for reviewing the book. Oh, well. I’ve reviewed it anyway, noting I’d received an advance copy as is proper, but my review doesn’t show the coveted verified purchase tag. The unverified status of my review was one of the exceptions.
I noticed that she’d already amassed close to 30 reviews on the US Amazon site, even one from an Amazon top reviewers, and the book wasn’t even live yet, providing authors aren’t the only ones benefiting from this program. I, on the other hand, am still begging and pleading for reviews months after publication. Clearly, once again, I’m doing things the hard way.
I’m not sure how well it would work for later books in a series, but overall, based on what I have experienced, it is a program I will have to seriously consider when its time for me to branch into something new.
Until then – nominate, read, review, and repeat. It’s free!
You may just make an authors year.
Follow-up note: Within days of posting this I received the following note from Amazon: “April 3rd, Kindle Scout will no longer accept new submissions, and you will no longer be able to start a new Kindle Scout campaign. Once the current campaigns end their voting period, you will have until May 31st to log into your Kindle Scout profile, redeem free copies of your selected nominations, and save any info you may want.”
This is obviously disappointing as it was a neat way for emerging authors to gain additional reviews and exposure. I’ll update this post if and when I hear of any potential replacement for the service.