Report from the battlefield: My Kindle Scout campaign
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
My new novel Death on D'Urville has been accepted into the Kindle Scout programme. (You can find it at https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/NG4NJJ82AFBZ.) For those not familiar with Kindle Scout, it’s a new platform that Amazon is positioning as a "reader-powered" publisher. Effectively it is like an 'American Idol' competition where success is determined by readers voting for books they want to see published. The books are displayed on the Kindle Scout page, and anybody with an Amazon account can nominate or vote for books they favour.
If the novel is successful and Kindle Scout's editorial team choose the book, everyone who voted for it gets a free e-copy before the release date. Amazon requests they leave a review for the book, which means when published it already has advance reviews.
Those who follow my Blog know that examining ways in which writers can channel their books to readers is central to it. The Kindle Scout programme offers a new take on the process, so I decided to give it a go. I’ll keep a diary, and update it over the four weeks of the campaign. DAY 1, Saturday 2nd April This is submission day. I hate the moment I have to accept I’ve finished creative work on a book and it’s time to let go. I feel the same series of emotions I did the day my eldest child went off to school. Proud, worried, hoping I’d done my best, terrified I’d forgotten something important. The Kindle Scout submission process is straight forward and easy to follow. Even so, it took me the best part of two hours to complete. This was partly because I had to find items hidden in various computer files: author bio, cover jpg, manuscript, publicity photos etc. The majority of the time was spent trying to think of a catchy by-line and rejigging existing material to fit the Scout format. Finally I plucked up courage and pressed the submit button.
Here Scout’s information misled me. Their site said that it would take 1 – 2 working days for their team to review the submission before I’d receive notification it had been accepted into the programme. As my submission was posted 9am on Saturday, I assumed I’d hear from them sometime on the following Tuesday.
I received a courteous email at 4pm on the day of submission congratulating me on my novel being accepted for the programme and telling me it would go ‘live’ in 24 hours.
I’d been relying on those extra days to ‘plan’ my campaign. I should say here that beyond knowing I needed to put the news on facebook, and send out a few emails, the ‘plan’ so far is extremely vague on detail. DAY 2, Sunday 3rd April As a first step I googled Kindle Scout reviews to find what other writers had done to promote their novels. I lucked onto a site by the Berg, whose Blog indicated that he’d used Kindle Scout and made some useful suggestions about how to proceed. I emailed him my thanks for his advice, and received a reply suggesting I join KBoards, an online forum for Kindle Users and Authors. I signed up, and it is indeed a useful site full of authorial suggestions and shared experiences. I posted on my facebook page that Death on D’Urville had been accepted for the Kindle Scout programme, and later, at 5pm, after receiving notification the novel was now ‘live’ on the site, shared that it was accepting nominations. It was lovely to receive the first messages back from friends and family offering support and encouragement. I then invested a couple of hours trying to work out how to use MailChimp. I have an account with them, but I’ve been too scared to use it. The terminology alone frightens me, and I’m terrified of pressing a button in case I commit some social solecism which will alienate my audience. Alas, I failed once again, and reverted to sending out a dozen emails in the conventional way. It’s too early for any feedback from Scout about how my campaign is going. The immediate objective is for my novel to become ‘hot and trending’, which sounds incredibly pornographic to me, but is apparently the plimsoll line of popularity on Scout. DAY 3, Monday 4th April The die is cast and I need to maximise the short time my novel stays on the Scout site. The immediate problem is I’m a very private person, and writing what feels like ‘begging letters’ to all and sundry, requesting their support, does not come naturally. This mindset, curiously old-fashioned in our society today, is going to cause problems unless I find some way of reconciling my need to promote my novel with my native reticence. Facebook is pleasingly anonymous so I have no inhibitions about promoting myself there. Likewise twitter, although I’m not a great user of the site. I’ll need to do a lot more research about the best way to proceed over the next four weeks, and if any readers have suggestions on how I should run this campaign, I’ll gratefully receive them. In the meantime, remember the link to nominate my novel on Kindle Scout is https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/NG4NJJ82AFBZ