One Year Later: Random Thoughts From a #KindleScout Winner

It’s been almost a year since I posted my first novel, TRANSMUTED, book one of the Dark Landing series, to Amazon KindleScout for consideration and it’s selection for publication. The following random thoughts are based on nothing more than my personal experience and opinion—unsubstantiated by anyone (see the title of this blog).

  • My timing was perfect. I didn’t learn about KindleScout until TRANSMUTED was completed and professionally edited. That’s a good thing because I would have been tempted to post the manuscript before it was ready, and the book would never have been selected. (One job of a good editor is to slap your ego around until you’re whimpering like a baby).
  • The process couldn’t be easier. I’m not a paranoid person (some might argue) and I didn’t have a lot of questions. I read the agreement and followed instructions. Kindle Press (KP) was—and still is—responsive at every step, though I’ve never talked with a human. Just remember, this is a one-way street, or it was for me. There’s no room for negotiation or discussion.
  • I think I have some insight into the nomination process:
    1. KP editors can tell from the first few paragraphs if a manuscript is eligible. If there are typos, grammar and punctuation errors, clunky flow, or a general lack of writing style, story and number of nominations be damned. Fuhgeddaboutit!
    2. I’m also convinced that genre is a consideration. For example, if you write romance, and KP selected two romance manuscripts from the previous group, you may be screwed unless yours is knock-your-socks-off great. There’s little an author can do about that.
    3. I had only 445+ nominations for the entire month, and 72 hours trending at month end (which I don’t believe I earned). My guess at what tipped the scale once KP determined the writing/editing/story was good, was that the analytics showed my voters read the entire preview. If 500 of your friends and relatives open your page, click the nomination button, and leave without reading the preview, or only read the first couple paragraphs, their nominations carry little weight.
  • The royalty advance ($1500) was welcomed. After I deducted my production costs from the advance, editing, cover art, ISBN purchase, etc., I was left with a profit of $43.00. I AM NOT COMPLAINING. I’m thrilled. (BTW: If you’re tempted to calculate your hourly wage, DON”T—there lies madness!) (ALSO: I’ve earned enough over and above my advance to cover the expenses for book two.)
  • Promotion is critical, and my opinion about the job KP did/does in this area waivers. The first 90 days were good, I think. But I have nothing to compare it to since I’m a first-time author, and (for personal reasons) did not pursue a relationship with other KindleScout winners (though I was invited to), which might have provided more data. It’s possible I had exaggerated expectations re the level of promotion KP would provide. I mean, it’s AMAZON for Pete’s sake; expectations are high. After six months, sales dropped off (off  like the deep end of the ocean), but I have myself to blame, as well. I’m not that great with social media, and I haven’t actively pursued a following. Three further, significant points:
    1. I have only one book out. From everything I’ve read, that will never cut it. When the second book is published (hopefully by the end of the year), sales should perk up. To my own detriment, or not, we’ll see, I’ve ignored marketing the first book to focus on finishing the second book.
    2. To date, I’ve received over sixty reviews on book one (all but 3 are 4-5 star) a significant plus.
    3. Other than the occasional email saying they’re running a $.99 limited promo, I don’t see KP’s promotional efforts. Since I’ve already “purchased” my book, in the robotic eyes of Amazon analytics, also read or emailed recommendations for my title for me are scrubbed. (Early on, a friend forwarded a copy of an email she received that recommended my book, but I think only because she’d previously accessed my sales page—still a good thing.
  • The scary downside of signing with KP is what will happen if they don’t accept the second book in the series. After thinking about it for a year, I can’t recommend posting the first book of a series to KindleScout. If they don’t accept the second book, I’m screwed. I have no control over pricing/free offers of the first book to cross-promote book two, and I can’t advertise the first book on Amazon where I’d get the best results (I asked and they said no). If I could, I’d advertise book one on Amazon tied to a free pre-publication copy of book two in order to build my email list and get early reviews. And what happens if I want to create a box set later on? Also, my contract with KP prohibits me from offering book one on any other platform, which makes total sense, but offering book two on Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc., without book one, makes no sense.

The fear of KP passing on the second book in the series overrides all the ego stroking, promotion, and sales results from KP’s selection of book one, and keeps me awake at night. Maybe I am paranoid, after all. 

Again, the above represents my experience, my opinions, and my personal night-sweat-producing terror.

 

2017 KindleScout winner: TRANSMUTED, book one of the Dark Landing series, available on Amazon. Book two, MASS PRIMARY, coming soon eventually soon.

 

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