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Kindle Scout to Open to Readers Next Week

Amazon's crowd-sourcing program opened its doors to authors last week, and a new report tells me that it will soon be open to readers as well.

Benjamin Sobieck wrote on his blog earlier today that his latest crime novel, The Invisible Hand, was accepted into the Kindle Scout program today. He reports that it took Amazon less than 24 hours to accept his work and assign a start date for his campaign. The Invisible Hand will be posted for readers to rate and review on 28 October.

For those just tuning in, Kindle Scout is a new hybrid publishing program from Amazon. Authors can submit a work (including a completed manuscript, cover, author bio, and description), and if accepted into the Kindle Scout it is posted for public review. Readers will have 30 days to read the excerpt and comment on it, and well, it’s not clear what will happen next.

Theoretically, Amazon’s newest publishing imprint, Kindle Press, will take reader nominations into account and (assuming a work passes muster) offer the author a 5 year publishing contract with an advance.

But this program is still so new that I don’t know if we can say for sure whether it will work. I would bet that there won’t be a shortage of authors signing up, but I still don’t know whether enough readers will participate or if they will be able pick good books.

But even with the unanswered questions, this program is still worth a shot. As Sobieck explains, the potential upside is significant and if worst comes to worst all he lost was a 6 week exclusive:

Writers can see the specifics of how this works here, but I won’t bore anyone with that. I wanted to take a swing at Kindle Scout because a) being picked up by Kindle Press offers a good chance of making bank on sales, since Amazon’s marketing knows how to target and sell e-books within its ecosystem; and b) it’s a 45-day turnaround, which is much faster than slogging through the submission process I just don’t have time for right now.

If Kindle Press does choose to publish Sobieck’s book, he’ll be signing over ebook and audiobook rights (but not paper) in exchange for a $1,500 advance and royalty rates better than what can be found in most publishing contracts (more details here).

Kindle Scout is one of two programs for authors which Amazon has launched recently. The other is Write On, a writing community designed along the lines of Wattpad. Write On has been under development since April of this year, but was only publicly unveiled earlier this month. (It’s still invite only, so let me know if you want one.)

P.S. If you have a book about to go through Kindle Scout, please let me know. I’d like to know what Kindle Scout is like from the inside, and I’d be happy to accept a guest post with a first hand account.

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Ebook Bargains UK October 22, 2014 um 5:55 am

"…being picked up by Kindle Press offers a good chance of making bank on sales, since Amazon’s marketing knows how to target and sell e-books within its ecosystem.."

Tell that to the many authors who signed up to Amazon’s secretive White Glove programme with the promise of all manner of fancy marketing in return for a year of exclusivity.

White Glove is a de-luxe version of Select for agented-authors only, where an author takes their book out of KDP and of course off all other platforms and the agent reloads it to a special Amazon account the author has no access to. the title then gets put int a "shoveller programme" to infiltrate the charts at a respectable level, with the assertion by Amazon that the title will "be eligible" for the fancy marketing like mail shots, daily deals, etc.

The key word being "eligible".

Of course a handful of lucky authors have soared to success this way. But being eligible for something and getting it are two different planets. Most authors, having been locked out of all other retailers for a year, then find they have not only lost all their sales from other retailers, but are selling are less on Amazon than they were before, because they lost whatever chart position and momentum they had when Amazon assigned a new ASIN and started the titles off in a fresh account

One has to ask why, if Amazon has any intention of giving these books a fair crack of the whip, it doesn’t put the "winning" titles into its regular imprints with a full print run and a proper advance.

Amazon may take few unknowns and make them stars, because that’s good PR, but generally they will be looking for indies who have done well in the past and have a good track record on other retailers. Those are the titles Amazon will happily payout $1,500 for to keep these new titles off said other retailers.

And for this the author has to pay/arrange for editing, proofing, formatting and cover before the book can even be submitted.

If Amazon grab the book for five years they will publish as is, adding absolutely nothing but the imprint brand, and then take 65% of every cent you make, meaning you have to sell twice as many ebooks through Kindle Press as on your own in KDP just to break even, while being locked out of all other retailers globally, and handing over total control of pricing to Amazon.

As for royalties, yes they may be paying more than trad pub, but trad pub generally does not require you to edit, proof, format and provide your own cover for your books, and then give you a digital-only deal with one retailer that excludes 35% of the digital market.

Pricing at $4.99 AMAZON will make $3.25 a sale so will need to sell only 462 copies to make back the advance it paid out.

The AUTHOR will have to sell 1,200 copies to pay back that advance before they see another cent from Amazon.

Going it alone if you sold 1,200 copies at $4.99 you’d have $4,200 in the bank plus your sales from other retailers.

At $3.99 list price Amazon grab $2.60 per sale against your $1.40. You’ll need to sell 1,072 copies just to pay back the advance. Amazon will have made $2,800 off you in that time.

Going it alone if you sold 1,072 copies at $3.99 you’d have three grand in the bank plus your sales from other retailers.

At $2.99 Amazon will be taking $1.95 a shot while you get a buck. You’ll need to sell 1,500 copies just to pay back the advance. Amazon will have made nearly three grand off you on those same sales.

Going it alone that 1,500 sales at the same price you’d have just over three grand in the bank plus your sales from other retailers.

Yes, a lucky few will get the red carpet treatment and all the fancy marketing Amazon can do to make sure Kindle Press is seen to be successful. The Kindle Press equivalent of the KU All-Stars.

The rest…

Ben Sobieck October 22, 2014 um 10:45 am

Thanks for the mention on here, Nate.

Valid points throughout, eBook Bargains, but I still feel this is the best option for me right now. It’s hard to put faith in that kind of math when the sales don’t exist in the first place. And the biggest hurdle to those sales is visibility, something that I think being published through a Kindle Press contract can help achieve. So it’s not an issue of percentages for me, it’s getting those sales rolling. It’s a risk, but I’m willing to take it.

Ebook Bargains UK October 22, 2014 um 4:01 pm

Good luck, Ben. Every lottery needs winners, and at this early stage taking a few "unknowns" and letting them soar is a given.

Deb Hosey White October 22, 2014 um 10:11 am

Hi! My novel, Magic Numbers, was approved for a kindle scout campaign that begins on Monday, 10/27 and runs through Wednesday, 11/26. Here’s why that end date is important. The social crowd-sourcing "count" is based on how many readers still have your book nominated when the book’s campaign ends. "When a book’s 30-day campaign ends while in Your [the Kindle scout reader’s] Nominations panel, your nomination is tallied and removed from your panel." I have published a number of books in both print and ebook formats, with and without a publisher. I’m an early adapter and will be interested to see how kindle scout plays out. I plan to blog about my experience on Goodreads and I would be glad to answer any questions you might have about my experience. As a "first wave" kindle scout author, one question that’s quickly presenting itself is this: how fast will there be a kindle scout readers base to evaluate the first wave of novels in the program? Stay posted. It should be an interesting ride!

Ebook Bargains UK October 22, 2014 um 4:09 pm

Our guess is most "submitters" will bring along their own readership base of fans to "vote" up the title, and that some savvy indies will find ways to game this to great effect.

But of course that will only get them to the consideration stage. Amazon will make its final choices based on what’s good for Amazon in the deal, not how many readers, genuine or otherwise, raised their hands.

The upside to this means that whatever does get through will be thoroughly vetted for both quality and content before being released, even if they do adhere to their policy not to make any material changes.

Guest Post: Is Kindle Scout Worth the Risk? For Me, Yes – The Digital Reader October 22, 2014 um 3:05 pm

[…] Earlier this week I submitted my crime novel, The Invisible Hand, to the Kindle Scout program. Within 24 hours, after vetting my manuscript, cover and description, Amazon gave me the green light for a campaign to start on Oct. 28. For those not in the know about Kindle Scout, Nate did a great job of summing it up when it launched last week. […]

Brandon October 22, 2014 um 3:27 pm

Thanks for the post — it’s good to see both sides of a new opportunity like this. As a debut novelist I’m thrilled to have been selected for the first round of the Kindle Scout service. My thriller / horror novel, entitled Housebroken, will have a campaign launch this Monday October 27th. I’ll be chronicling the experience of working with Kindle Scout on my blog and would be more than willing to offer any insights or guest posts.

For those with a negative outlook I’m the first to say Kindle Scout is not right for everyone. I view it as a way to jump-start my following by allowing many more readers to find my work than if I just published it alone in my limited vaccuum. I’m excited to see the long-term possibilities and don’t mind giving up a percentage of sales for the additional marketing and reach a program like this might provide.

Hopefully it’s a decision I won’t regret but it will be a fun ride regardless.

Ebook Bargains UK October 22, 2014 um 4:10 pm

Good luck!

Jesslyn H October 23, 2014 um 12:56 pm

I’m a Kindle reader and am excited about this program for one reason. FINALLY, we may get indie books into the audiobook-sphere. I read ebooks, but really like to stick to ones with audiobook partners.

Whenever I come across indie or small publisher books that I like to read, they inevitably get pushed down my TBR pile in favor of books that have an audiobook format. My hope is that Amazon puts these books out with Whispersync.

Rob Blackwell October 23, 2014 um 1:17 pm


From what I can tell, Amazon will put out successful Scout books on audiobook. If Amazon publishes the book, it specifically says it acquires audiobook rights. Like Ben above, my book is launching through Scout on Oct. 27 and I’m excited to see what happens.
I agree with you that it’s a great way to get more exposure. Two of my three available novels are on audiobook, and the third is coming soon. As a reader/listener, I also enjoy finding books through Whispersync.

Alan Orloff October 25, 2014 um 4:11 pm

My book, RUNNING FROM THE PAST, was also "selected" for the Kindle Scout program (I wonder how many books weren’t selected…), starting Oct 27. I view this as an experiment–I happened to have a book meeting the requirements that I didn’t have any immediate plans for, so I figured, why not? I’ve published 3 books traditionally, and 3 books all by my lonesome. I guess this is sort of a hybrid of the two paths. We’ll see what happens!

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