To KindleScout or Not – The Cons

Most of you know that my book Beyond was submitted to KindleScout from August 19-September 19 2015. I heard, two days after the campaign ended, that I did not get a publishing contract. Instead KindleScout wished me “the best” and they hope I’ll “consider Kindle Scout again for your next book!” I was pretty disappointed. That being said, I also learned a lot. Which is what people who are optimists like to think of as a ‘win.’ I’m not sure if I’m an optimist today. Hopefully I’ll come back around later.

I wrote a bit about my decision to submit to KindleScout in the post KindleScout and Beyond. I researched, reading a lot of pros and cons, all from the perspective of having had a successful campaign. Such as, are you willing to accept a low advance? Or are you willing to have no control over the price? I thought these cons were pretty good considering, and submitted to KindleScout anyway, because like everyone who enters a contest, I believed I could win it.

So here’s some cons that you should consider because there is a chance (Dear reader/Author there is a slim slim chance) that, like me, your book won’t get chosen. And I believe your chances are getting worse by the day.

The campaign dashboard is almost completely useless.
Once your book goes live, you have a bit of time where you’re blind because all your information is delayed by a day. This meant that my book entered the campaign without being hot and trending and I had no idea how much I needed to step up my game until the following day. I stepped up my game and got my book in hot and trending very quickly but the only way to know on an hour by hour basis was by checking KindleScout. Pretty much hourly. The dashboard looks pretty but doesn’t tell you what you really need to know, like how many page views make a person hot and trending, how many page views translate to nominations, or even how many of any of them you need over all and finally, how many anyone else has ever gotten. And don’t go to sleep because you’ll need to keep cranking the Hot and Trending machine, by anywhere from 10-200 page visits, or something, your guess.

Don't sleep, gotta keep that Hot and Trending orange bar up, a day ago
Don’t sleep, gotta keep that Hot and Trending orange bar up, a day ago

The author has no idea what the goals are.
Okay, your goals are to get a lot of nominations. But pretty early on you realize that the name of the game is hot and trending. Or is it? And sorry but you don’t ever get to see how many nominations you have, instead you get a page visit tally, delayed of course, by a day.
stats for campaign 2

The rules of the game are shifting.
In August, it looked like about 40+ books were listed on the site. (there is no overall tally) I looked back over the months preceding and books were being published all the time, every few days, sometimes more than one a day, 7-12 a month. By the end of the month, the number of books on the site had doubled and a new category, YA, had been added. (I wanted in that category but they wouldn’t add me mid-campaign sadly.) In September 2015, so far, two books have been picked. Also, and I didn’t figure this out until halfway through the month, the Hot and Trending seems to be capped at 20. I was excited that I was there almost every day, considering, but as the field fills up how will mere mortals get to hot and trending, every day, for 30 days?

I’m not sure how positive news is delivered, but the negative news is fully automated.
KindleScout says that it takes a few business days to decide, but I recieved my letter at midnight on a Sunday, two days after my campaign ended. At the exact same time that all the lovely people who nominated me found out. The letter was a form letter without any information and ‘do not reply.’ In hindsight, and just guessing, I don’t think any human actually read my book, or even much looked at it. I think my campaign never got to the right number of nominations, or level of hot, or whatever, to warrant eyes on the page.

And finally, if your campaign ends in failure, there is literally nothing in it for you.
Either I just marketed my arse off for an entire month to get KindleScout 1300 new customers, with no plus side for me. Or, I just marketed like crazy for my next book, contacting every friend, fan, stranger, and person within a 3 mile radius, and then after a whole month of working my arse off, KindleScout told all of those people, 1300 according to their dashboard, that my book wasn’t good enough to be published. Thanks KindleScout, glad I could help.

I think if I were you, this last one is a huge negative. A screaming pile of stay away. Even if your Aunt Edna believes in your book, she may question her wisdom after hearing how Amazon feels about it. And that new book club that was going to read it in October after it was published, well, they probably just changed their mind.  Until authors have more information about what works, and what KindleScout is looking for, your month is just free marketing for their program, and is at your own detriment.

I saw that a few people were publishing their statistics so that others could see, and try to piece together how this whole thing works, here’s mine: 480 hours of 720 in Hot and Trending, 1300 page views.
stats for kindlescout campaing

If you nominated my book, thank you so much. I plan to publish it in a few days and will let you know when, please sign up for my newsletter to be one of the first to know.
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KindleScout and Beyond

My book, Beyond, could use your nomination: Beyond (Book Two of The Estelle Series) on KindleScout and if you already have, thank you, heaps.


My journey through the world of self publishing has been full of lessons, many difficult lessons. I promise to spend some time writing about what I’ve learned in the near future.

But in the near present, I’ve learned that every time I write a book, (that’s about every 6 months), I’ll need to spend a couple of weeks or more re-learning how to publish and market that book. Things are changing lightning fast. And what worked in February of this year is something totally different in August. It makes things, um, exciting.

In the Spring I came across Kindle Scout, did my research, and passed. I was, on the one hand, happily self-publishing and, on the other, mailing agent queries. I didn’t want or need to enter a popularity contest for a publishing contract. I was above that kind of thing, and uninterested in a third way.

Which is odd for me because ‘third ways’ are kind of my thing.

After the agent queries didn’t work out (I sent an excerpt of Violet’s Mountain, which is AWESOME, yet didn’t even get one response out of twelve. And I’m not talking about positive response, I’m talking about any response at all.) Perhaps it’s my gender? But then again, like a good girl, I’ve hidden my gender behind the initials in my name, right? But not even one response? Not one?

The truth is there are too many books being queried and not enough people to read them all. I get it. The gatekeepers are swamped. They built the gate and it’s too small, so there is a literal chaotic press of people trying to get through. It’s ugly. And so, to deal, agents and publishers create instant biases:

  • “Not interested in more books by women.”
  • “Vampires are so three years ago.”
  • “If the query doesn’t grab me in the first three words, I pass.”
  • “If I read another story about quirky cancer kids I’ll scream.”
  • and lastly, “If the author self-published before, then, of course, pass.”

I revisited Kindle Scout when I finished my sequel to Bright . I was doing my ‘What’s Changed?’ research and this time thought, This is an interesting way to get to the front of the line at that gate.

These are the basics:

Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing.

There are some great articles about Kindle Scout. My favorite is, Kindle Scout, the pros and cons of Amazon’s new crowd-sourced publishing program I decided I was okay with the cons. And because it’s all one big experiment, why not?

I very much liked this take on Kindle Scout:

We need Kindle Scout to succeed.

If novels presented on the Kindle Scout platform are solely selected as a popularity contest, we all lose. Authors, readers, even Amazon. What we need are active readers selecting those works that are truly deserving of a publishing contract, helping to sift through some of the slush and promote great work and up-and-coming novelists.

I agree—this might be a great way to turn off those gatekeeper biases and help more writing, from more voices, through the gate—by readers vouching for the books they’d like to read.

So if you haven’t yet, please go over to Kindle Scout and nominate my book, Beyond. And while you’re at it nominate a couple of others. It’s fun! And if you nominate a book that becomes published, it will appear (like a miracle) inside of your kindle-reader-thingy. My book *I hope I hope I hope* in your kindle, because it’s published by Kindle Press, and it would all be thanks to you!
Thanks dear friend for reading all the way to the low down bottom of the page,


Estelle and William, speaking in Beyond (Book Two of The Estelle Series):

“I hate talking at these things. The low-key ones are bad enough but with all this hoopla, yes, I’m nervous.” I took a deep breath and pulled at the middle of my dress to get more air in. An action that was futile.

“You’re getting better and better at speaking in public, but it hardly matters. You could stand and say turkey, turkey, turkey, and the citizens of New City would applaud and say yours was the best speech ever.”

“Aren’t we trying to win them over to our point of view?”


William sat up straighter and turned his head and stared at me, stared so much that I grew self-conscious and then gulped and giggled. “What? Do I have something in my teeth?”

“You are absolutely beautiful. I know it doesn’t matter to you, you hardly care, but seeing you like this takes my breath away.”

“Oh,” I said, not at all capable of a response.

He took my hand in his. “You always looked like this before, when you were just a New City girl, or if not this exactly, put together, dressed, done up. You were pretty, don’t get me wrong, but you looked just like everyone else. Put together in all the same ways. Normal and the same. Now you wear your farm look, and you’re pretty then too, but this—tonight—wow.”

“Stop William, You’re making me blush.” I batted my eyes because I liked to be complimented. I remembered once, what seemed like forever ago, when I departed the farm in a dress and William hadn’t even noticed me or didn’t mention it if he did. This little speech made up for that. Definitely.

William said, “Sure. I know. I think I’m just trying to prolong some alone time with you, but I was thinking…” He paused, his familiar pause, the one where the gears turned, the one just before he said something that would end up in his writing someday. “All those days of sameness makes this night, you even more spectacular. Because it’s different. You’re different. I feel sorry for the residents out there, with their fancy clothes and their big hair. How can they get excited about all this, when they see a version of it every single day? It made me think that one of the biggest problems with New City is really a problem of sameness.

“Ever the philosopher.”

“Okay, I’m off track. I want to kiss you, but I won’t be held responsible for mussing your display.” He motioned about my face. “Suffice it to say, I want to.”

Have you nominated my book for publishing yet?


It hasn’t been in Hot and Trending all day, I’m dyin’ over here. And tell a friend!