Want to get your book finally published? Amazon, the e-commerce giant and maker of the Kindle, has launched a new program that marries the self-publishing industry with crowdsourced campaigns like those on Kickstarter. Say hello to Kindle Scout.
What’s Kindle Scout All About?
Kindle Scout is a simple system. Authors need to submit a book title, cover, catchy one-liner and other such information. Once the Kindle team approves it, you can launch your campaign, which lasts for 30 days. The idea is to promote the book as much as possible so it gets nominations from readers, thus increasing its chances of getting published. Readers can nominate up to three books at a time, so make your pitch count with tricks for new authors.
What’s In It For Readers?
Book lovers get to decide which book will be published next, which is a great high in itself. But the awesome part is that if a book you nominated is selected to be published, then you will get a free copy of that, one week prior to release!
Here’s what a submission looks like.
What’s In It For Authors?
While you won’t get the same deal as what a publisher gives you, the Kindle Scout program does offer some good incentives for authors. If you earn a Kindle Press contract (i.e. your book has been selected for publishing), then Amazon will give you a $1500 advance and 50% of ebook royalties, paid monthly. That said, it’s still your responsibility to take it from idea to final draft.
What Are The Requirements For A Submission?
- Kindle Scout requires the author to be over 18 years of age.
- You need to have a valid U.S. bank account and U.S. social security number or tax identification number.
- The book should never have been published previously.
- It should be 50,000 words or more (of which the first 5000 words are available in a preview).
- It falls into one of the following genres: Science fiction / Fantasy, Romance, Thriller, or Mystery.
- You can find out about all the requirements at the Kindle Scout Help Page.
So Is Kindle Scout Worth It?
Like with any newly launched program, it’s too early to tell whether Kindle Scout is going to usher in a new breed of writers or fizzle out eventually. What we can tell is that it’s opening a door.
Fantasy novelist Jim C. Hines writes on his blog:
Data points: $1500 isn’t a bad advance for a small press, though I’d want to negotiate the rights grab. However, $1500 would be unacceptably low from a major publisher. Also, it’s not at all unusual to get a $1500 advance for a book’s English language audio rights alone.
I find it curious that the ebook royalty rate is 50% for direct sales, lower than the 70% rate most self-published authors get for their e-books on Amazon. That royalty rate is definitely better than most traditional publishers offer. However, Kindle Scout royalties for third party sales are 75% of net, which is less desirable.
Author Blair McGregor offers a few more insights into the contract for writers:
I personally don’t much like things I can’t negotiate – my knee-jerk hang-up. I’d love to see, say, SFWA and RWA look at the terms and make professional recommendations to Amazon. For example, I’ve seen some opinions on the Scout indemnity clause that make me wonder enough to want the opinion of a pair of legal eyes, as well as a comparison to trade-publishing’s indemnity clauses. On the other hand, the contract terms are right out in the open. There aren’t surprises. You either like them or you don’t, and if Amazon doesn’t select your work within 30 days, you’re still free to publish it on your own.
The Digital Reader, which has been reporting about Kindle Scout since before the launch, shares their opinion of what it’s like to be a reader in this process:
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.
Overall, there seems to be a tone of cautious optimism about Kindle Scout, although there are a few voices that advise steering clear of it. Whether you decide to go with it or not, reading our guide to self-publishing will stand you in good stead.
If you’re a budding author, would you use the Kindle Scout program to publish your book? As a reader, are you excited by the prospect of discovering the next big thing?
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