Amazon's crowd-sourced publishing platform opened its doors today to readers. After accepting submissions from authors for the past two weeks, Amazon is now going to give readers a chance to pick some of the books Amazon might publish next.
I've covered Kindle Scout extensively ever since I first broke the news last month, including a look at what authors could get from it, so I won't repeat any of that today. Instead I will look at KS from the viewpoint of a reader.
I've spent a couple hours browsing Kindle Scout this morning. I haven't found anything that I desperately wanted to read further (I am a picky reader), but I also didn't see any really bad works either.
Kindle Scout has 59 titles at launch (more will be added tomorrow and in the future). The works are concentrated in SF/Fantasy, romance, and thriller/mystery, the only 3 genres which Amazon is accepting at the moment.
I'm really only interested in SF, but I did browse the other sections and note that the cover images ranged in quality from amateur (and possibly homemade) to clearly professional work, but as I later learned you can't judge the books in Kindle Scout by their covers.
I have so far read 5 of the excerpts in the SF section (on the website; you can also send an excerpt to your Kindle account). None of the books grabbed my attention, but I did notice that the general writing quality was much better than some of the covers led me to expect. This was no amateur hour; all of the excerpts I read showed a writing style and polish that was on par with traditionally published books. Some of the excerpts were even better written than what you would find under a major imprint.
I am a very picky reader so I wasn't surprised that I didn't find anything I loved, but I am also cognizant of the fact that I have narrow interests. I can't judge what will have success in the market, but if the worst that can be said is that some of the covers are bad then that is actually very good news.
I won't go so far as to predict market success for any of the books submitted to KS (the market is too fickle for that), but I do think that Kindle Scout has passed its first hurdle. The worst books have been weeded out in or before the submission stage, leaving only good books to for readers to browse through.
It's worth a reader's time to browse and see if there are any books you like. At worst you'll get a couple minutes entertainment, or perhaps boredom. But if you're lucky the book will be accepted for publication by Kindle Press, the new hybrid publishing imprint Amazon launched to compliment Kindle Scout. Anyone who nominates a book will get a free copy of the ebook if and when it is published by Kindle Press.
Described by Amazon as a hybrid platform which combines elements of KDP and Amazon Publishing, Kindle Scout is Amazon's latest experiment in drawing on the collected wisdom of readers to find good books.
Oh, yes, Amazon has tried similar ideas before, with some success. One of Amazon's first publishing imprints, Amazon Encore, looked for previously published books which had great reviews but unimpressive sales. And of course Amazon has also been running the Breakthrough Novel Awards for the past several years. This annual contest is similar in structure to Kindle Scout in that authors submit their works, Amazon editors pick the best, and then Vine Reviewers and customers rate them.