How to support an indie author for free – a first experience with the Kindle Scout Program

A way to support #indieauthors for free and an Introduction to #KindleScout - www.alliepottswrites.comThis 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.

Enter Kristen.

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.

That’s it.

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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.

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Project Gene Assist Book 2, The Watch & Wand – You always have a choice. Make the right one

The Watch and Wand, the latest in the Project Gene Assist #Book Series Launches December 5th www.alliepottswrites.comBarring acts of God or radioactive slime beast hellbent on scaling the largest tower in my city while simultaneously leaving a swart of destruction in its wake, by this time next week, my book children will officially outnumber my human children.

I am going to level with you – it hasn’t been easy.

An Uncertain Faith - www.alliepottswrites.comWhen my first bookborn arrived, I didn’t have a clue what to expect. I did whatever any new bookparent would. First I converted a small underused space on the internet into a cozy little site where my bookbaby and my author platform might grow side by side. I overbought supplies (many of which I hadn’t the first clue how to effectively use) so I might be ready for any occasion. I sent out cards alerting the friends and family. I hung up bright shiny pictures of its cover positioned in various poses and dreamed about all the things I thought it might one day be.

I nested. I sanitized my words. I reached out to other new bookmoms and bookdads for sympathy, tips or other advice.

But I was overwhelmed and no matter how much attention I bestowed, my bookbaby still always demanded more.

I consulted the experts who all agreed that the best thing I could do, for us both, was to give my bookbaby a sibling.

I made a choice.

Project Gene Assist Book 1: The Fair & Foul - www.alliepottswrites.comSo after a lengthy labor of love, culminating on one cold rainy night, my second bookbaby made its grand first appearance. After the launch, I wanted nothing more than to get some rest and enjoy the benefit of my expanded catalog. Only things didn’t work between the two quite as smoothly as I imagined.

For one, the newest edition was a completely different genre, meaning, as I learned in short order, I wouldn’t be able to utilize most any marketing hand-me-downs. Nor did either book’s temperament allow me to bundle them together. Well… shoot.

I consulted the experts once again on what to do. The answer was the same.

Write more books (preferably this time in the same genre).

But at this point, my other children, my human children were no longer going to bed early or taking mid-day naps, nor was the day job getting any less demanding.

Then, to make matters worse, the words stopped flowing. Not all at once, but bit by bit until one day I realized that somewhere along the line, I’d let my story slip.

I found myself at the base of a mountain – a mountain of a goal – a goal I’d created.

I thought about quitting. I thought about it a lot.

I thought about quitting.

But I didn’t.

You didn’t. You could have. You didn’t let me.

I made a choice.

So now I’ve scaled a mountain – a mountain of a goal – a goal I created, only to see another mountain on the other side.

With your continued patience and more than a little of your support, I’ll scale that one too.

Thanks to you all.

I’d never have come this far without you.


Project Gene Assist Book Two: The Watch & Wand officially goes on sale Tuesday, December 5th. (Kindle Pre-order now available). You can read an excerpt here.

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle by Geoff Le Pard – A Rambling Review

Supporting Indie Authors #book review

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I have two children under the age of ten which apparently means that I have two people who can somehow muster the strength to throw every single pillow or cushion off a bed or couch without breaking a sweat and yet can’t seem to muster the energy required to close the door all the way as they run in and out of the house. If this weren’t special enough, the blasts of air-conditioned air they’ve been so generous to share with the wide wide world have become like a welcoming beacon for all sorts of guests of the insect variety.

Particularly flies. There have been so many flies this year.

I will be sitting at my computer, trying to get a post written for you lovely people when buzzzzzz! I will be dive-bombed in the head by a particularly noisy specimen. It’s really beginning to have an impact on my work. To make matters worse, these flies not only don’t have any respect at all for personal boundaries, I’m even starting to suspect they are purposely trying to thwart my writing attempts. Case in point, one morning, I turned my back a second only to find that one had thrown itself inhto my morning coffee. I told it while dumping the mug out, that ruining my coffee was just being cruel, but I don’t think it cared.

I’ve tried the hunt and swat method. I’ve tried the “GUYS, FOR THE LAST TIME SHUT THE DOOR!” method too. Nothing seems to work. For every fly I remove, another one seems to pop up in its place.

It’s like whack a mole, except the only tickets you gain after playing, are receipts from the groceries you’ve had to buy to replace the food they’ve ruined.

It’s also remarkably hard to achieve a zen way of thinking or discuss a life lesson when flies are around, believe me I’ve tried. I guess that’s why kung fu masters in movies are always trying to ask students to catch them. Speaking of flies, I wanted to share another book I’ve recently read.

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle by Geoff Le Pard

First – if sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll turn you off, this is not the book for you. That’s not my attempt at a reverse psychology sales pitch, but an honest warning. Seriously, pick something else.

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Set in the 1970s in Great Britain, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story much in the vein of movies such as Adventureland, American Pie, or The Way Way back, except set on the other side of the Atlantic.

Nineteen-year-old Harry Spittle has returned home from university, only to be told he is expected to pay rent. He takes the first job he can find as a waiter at a nearby hotel, where he gets to know a wide variety of people including sadistic chefs, small town gangsters, pretty girls, and overly competitive pumpkin growers, but really the story is about him getting to better know himself.

I admit, I didn’t immediately follow the story due to British idioms I didn’t quite understand, but once I was more familiar with the characters’ mannerisms, I found it to be an enjoyable read. Often humorous, the descriptions are particularly well done, straddling that fine line between too little and too much. I was especially amused during the scenes featuring Harry’s mother’s cooking. It almost seemed as if the author might have been pulling from personal experience.

But the downside of any coming of age story is the reminder that eventually we all have to grow up. Just as this book made me reflect upon my first summer jobs it is a reminder that one day my children will no longer be children too. I may no longer have to worry about the door being left ajar or the buzzing of flies they’ve let inside, but I won’t hear the sound of their games, their jokes, or their laughter on a daily basis either.

So as much as the buzzing sound annoys me, if it also means I get to enjoy my kids being kids, I’ll guess I’ll find a way to put up with it a while longer.

Calling on Beta Readers – Project Gene Assist Book Two

It was supposed to be a simple supply run

But after the world ends, nothing is ever simple.

While the last few days have gone out of their way to put me behind schedule, I am set to finish edits of book two in my speculative fiction series (Project Gene Assist), currently titled The Watch & Wand in the coming weeks.

Set fifteen years after the events of the first book, the future no longer looks quite so bright. Stephen Thomas knows this only too well. Had he been born a generation or two before, his talents for mechanics and programming would have virtually guaranteed him an easy, if not celebrated, life. Instead, he has been forced to endure a near pre-industrial existence with only his aging guardians for companionship.

The trouble with talent is it rarely allows itself to stay hidden…

A broken windmill, a tavern fire, and a chance encounter later, Stephen finds himself on a mission and on the run from groups such as The Watch, who blame the world’s troubles on all but the most basic technology – groups, who seek to control what remains of the rest of the population through intimidation and vigilante justice.

Interested in learning more?

If so, I am in need of a few more beta readers. As I’ve intended this book’s story to stand on its own, you don’t even have to have read book one, though why haven’t you?

What am I looking for in a beta reader:

  • You enjoy post-apocalyptic settings and/or quest style storylines
  • You enjoy earth based science fiction or urban fantasy as a genre
  • You don’t require main characters to be champions of virtue or expect villains to be pure evil
  • You must be able to read a ~80K word (estimated 320 pages) novel in approximately three to four weeks with little notice (targeting starting early-mid August)
  • You must be comfortable giving detailed feedback (preferably in the form of a commented word document). If you don’t like a character, or a scene doesn’t work, I need to know why (otherwise how can I fix them)
  • You do not need to be a grammar expert – while this is a huge help, I am more interested in gaining feedback related to story flow, character development, and gaping plot holes at this time than proofing issues, however if you are a grammar expert or one of those lovely people able to spot a typo from 100 paces, please let me know that too.
  • Bonus points if you are also an avid hiker, biologist, or structural engineer. While I did research before writing, I always appreciate hearing directly from experts.

If this sounds like you, please contact me at allie at alliepottswrites dot com, or better yet, sign up for my mailing list

 


Project Gene Assist Book One – The Fair & Foul

Juliane Faris is a brilliant programmer determined to change the world through scientific and technical advancement. Blinded by ambition, she will do whatever it takes to secure her legacy including agreeing to participate in an experimental procedure.

Her decision grants her unprecedented knowledge and cellular control over her body but threatens everything she holds dear including her sanity. When others undergo the same modifications it becomes apparent that not everyone can afford the price that this technology demands

Juliane has a supercomputer for a brain and she isn’t afraid to use it.

Perhaps she should be.

Read an excerpt at: https://alliepottswrites.com/books/excerpt-the-fair-foul

Read a review at: https://alliepottswrites.com/books/review-the-fair-and-foul

Purchase at: http://authl.it/B01678T7CU

 

A Thousand Rooms by Helen Jones: A Rambling Review

Supporting Indie Authors #book review

It is a rare book that makes me care about the characters before the end of the first act. A Thousand Rooms, by Helen Jones – this book, had me crying before I’d even read ten percent.

Repeatedly.

And not just a little. I had to put it down more than once in order to not alarm my family.

What begins as a tale about a woman dealing with her own post-existence, turns into a story about society’s different takes on the word Heaven, how we cope with loss, and the different forms love and acceptance takes along the way. While I may have cried in the beginning, there were reasons to laugh too.

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But what I found most intriguing about the story was the idea that a soul could be stuck waiting for a ride that doesn’t come like a child left to sit on the curb while they wait for their absent-minded parent to realize it was their day to pick them up from school. When the protagonist, a young woman named Katie, having piggy-backed her way with other recently deceased, finally reaches her heaven, I found myself more angry on her behalf at those who were expected to greet her on the other side than relieved she’d found her peace and as a result less able to accept the zen of the place even though the author, Helen Jones’ writing remained superb throughout. I realize now I expected a larger confrontation – even if it was in Heaven.

It probably didn’t help that it’s been a rough week at the office.

I returned from an extended holiday weekend to learn that there had been three deaths. One, a colleague’s ninety-five-year-old mother whose life could be celebrated and was for its fullness even though the loss still hurt. Another’s mother, a seventy-seven-year-old teacher, counselor, and fellow writer whose cancer, thought to be in remission, spread rather than retreat. And then, as there seems to be truth in the saying that these things tend to happen in threes, a member of my team, who at the age of thirty-one, was simply gone one morning for reasons that have not been determined and reasons I will not speculate on here.

We have journeyed across the globe, reached for the stars, explored the seas, and discovered particles within particles of matter. And yet, time or more specifically, the length of our time, a quantity that is so intimately and individually ours, remains one of the greatest unknowns. Per the first line A Thousand Rooms, “you don’t wake up expecting to die.” At least, most of us don’t.

Between this book and the past few days, I have been reminded yet again of the importance of surrounding yourself with the people and activities that bring you joy, the reason to value the experience over the thing, the call to be mindful, and why it is so very important to appreciate the everyday.

So if I am hugging my babies a little tighter right now, so be it. I am sure they’ll understand in the end. But to be clear, when my time comes – whoever, whatever, you are on the other side, I expect you to be there for me and waiting.