Publishing with Kindle Scout: What story do the sales figures tell?

You have carefully evaluated all the pros and cons of self-publishing your book, decided you just want to get your work out there in front of a potential audience, and Amazon is your choice of online publishers.  There is no reason not to submit first to Kindle Scout.


If you’re not familiar with Kindle Scout, here’s an overview:


Kindle Scout is a new program for writers from Amazon. Writers submit their completed manuscript, cover art and all, and then tap into their social network to encourage votes for their submission. Amazon then selects books for publication based in part on those votes, after review by their editors.


The program offers a $1,500 advance against sales, and of course the book is listed and promoted in the Kindle Scout section of Amazon.com.


Some writers have urged caution about the contract, which keeps rights to your work for up to five years, and pays slightly less than you would receive if you self-published through Amazon’s Createspace program. (Victoria Strauss has an in-depth pros and cons article here)


Essentially you are putting in the same effort as you would to go it alone: polishing a completed manuscript, creating your cover art and a marketing blurb, and posting your work online.


Here are a couple of reasons I believe the Kindle Scout program makes sense if your plan is to self-publish:


The $1500 Advance


The harsh reality of self-publishing is that most self-published books simply don’t sell. There are of course the success stories of writers like Jon Konrath and others who have become ultra-successful self-publishing their work on Amazon. But for every Jon Konrath, there are thousands of self-published authors who will sell less than a dozen books to friends and family, and more than half of all self-published writers will never earn even $500 in sales.


I’m a huge proponent of traditional publishing.  My philosophy dates back to when I first started selling short stories, when every published author I knew told me the same thing: Never give your work away.


There are other reasons – struggling to make it to the top of the slush pile, receiving rejections from editors, working with critique groups -- all of these help writers hone their craft to the point of professionalism. If you don’t think this is true, spend three or four dollars on 99 cent reads on the Kindle and odds are you will slog through some virtually unreadable pages rife with typos, chokingly poor dialogue, overused story tropes (especially in SF and Fantasy), and story telling that does nothing to hold a reader’s interest.


In other words, books that would never make it through the standard editorial process.


When I was regularly selling short fiction to paying markets, several editors at WorldCon shared with me the same statistic: 95% of the submissions that hit their desk were barely readable, and definitely not publishable. They said that a professional writer is competing with just that five percent margin when they submit.


Since self-publishing takes the editor out of the process, it’s not a huge leap to suggest that a large percentage of the books self-published online fall into that same category.
But if you’ve honed your craft and just don’t have the patience for the submission/rejection cycle of traditional publishing, here is the top reason why submitting first to the Kindle Scout program makes sense:


Sales numbers


If you think your book is good enough to publish, and Amazon agrees with you, you not only get the $1500 advance, but your book ends up in front of potential readers.


Most self-published books will have an Amazon Best Seller rank in the hundreds of thousands. This means they are selling less than a book a day.  According to people dedicated to unraveling the mysterious ranking system, anything higher than 100,000 is likely less than a book a day and becomes algorithmically worse as the number increases.


But let’s take a look at the current Amazon Best Seller Ranks for books released through Kindle Scout:


The Dark Man, by Desmond Doane Amazon Best Sellers Rank  #697


3 Women Walk Into a Bar, by Linda Sands  #1699 Paid in Kindle Store


In the Dark, by Chris Patchell  $3.99   Amazon Best Sellers Rank #2,022


Getting Lei’d, by  Ann Omasta #6221 in Paid Kindle Store
Unpaved Surfaces, Joseph Souza $3.99 #20,620


These are just a few of the new titles promoted on the Kindle Scout page.


Self-publishing with the assistance of Kindle Scout does more to get your book seen and sold than virtually anything you could accomplish personally through friends, family and social media. And much more quickly.


I still encourage any writer who believes in the excellence of his or her work to try the traditional publishing route first, but if your mind is made up to self-publish, submitting to Kindle Scout will only tie up your manuscript for about 45 days.


If you don’t make the cut, you’ve lost very little time and can still self-publish as you originally planned.

 

Links to Kindle Scout authors and their personal experience with Kindle Scout:

 

Neil Wooten’s personal experience with Kindle Scout

Steve Gannon’s personal experience with Kindle Scout

Tina Swayzee McCright’s personal experience with Kindle Scout

 

Why submitting to Kindle Scout is a great option if you plan on self-publishing your book.

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