Let’s have a quick look at a recent addition to the author’s arsenal, Amazon’s Kindle Scout. Aimed at giving self-publishing authors access to the power of crowd-sourcing reader support. It seems to be a great tool for the new author, well, as long as you don’t live in Africa.
Kindle Scout is a platform that gives the self-published author a chance to have their eBook published by Amazon. As you could guess, being published by Amazon has its pros and cons.
All manuscripts submitted by eager authors and meeting the Kindle Scout submission requirements are presented to readers in a format reminiscent of the Amazon store-front. Readers are able, after seeing the title cover art and reading an extract of the manuscript (first 5000 words or so), to nominate the title for publication. After 30 days Amazon tallies the nominations of all readers. Winners of the reader-nominations are then further vetted by Amazon staff before the lucky authors are announced.
Why would the readers play along with the Kindle Scout system?
If their nominations are accepted for publication, the reader receives a free copy of the eBook. I wonder if this carrot is enough to encourage sufficient reader-participation.
Bad news for African authors.
The Kindle Scout platform was launched for US authors in October 2014, and is slowly being rolled out to other countries. The latest additions are Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil and Japan. Notably excluded from the list are African countries, with the exception of South Africa. I have contacted Amazon asking if other African authors are eligible to join Kindle Scout, I will you know as soon as I have heard back.
This together with the requirement that the manuscript be written in English seems to point to a potentially powerful platform that will continue the exclude many writers who would benefit from the platform the most.
Here is it, the part I think you need to hear:
- English titles only.
- Only selected fiction genres are eligible.
- Authors must be over 18 (or age of majority).
- Manuscript must total 50 000 words or more.
- Your manuscript must have been professionally edited. (A given I know, but it warrants repetition)
- Monetary advance for an author who has been accepted of a once-off $1500 / R24 000/ 100 000 Indian Rupees.
- Published manuscripts may be translated into different languages or recorded as audiobook, all at Amazon’s expense.
- If accepted to be published, Amazon will re-edit your title.
- The contract applies to digital versions of your book only. You are still free to print and distribute physical copies.
- Fairly forgiving five-year contract-terms. If you need to cancel this is not too difficult.
- Extra marketing boost. If your eBook is successfully selected to be published you would have been voted there by many eager readers. The very same readers will then each receive a copy of your eBook and be encouraged to leave a review of the eBook on Amazon. Not a bad start.
- Even if your book is not selected, you could still reach those readers who nominated your title. List your eBook on Amazon via the KDP platform and then email the Amazon support team to request the link to your newly listed eBook is emailed to the relevant readers.
- Digital exclusivity with Amazon.
- Pricing of the eBook will be decided by Amazon.
- No non-fiction or poetry titles are accepted.
- No co-authored books allowed.
- 50% royalties for the author vs the 70% potentially earned listing the eBook on Amazon via the KDP platform.
Need help with styling your manuscript?
It should go without saying that the manuscripts submitted for consideration in the Kindle Scout program should really be the author’s best work. If your cover doesn’t bring tears to your eyes or the text does not flow like honey then perhaps you should be looking for a different designer/ editor.
Amazon does recommend authors should adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style. This manual might be out of reach financially for many authors.
The Chicago manual of style does not seem to be available in Kindle eBook form for those authors who have unreliable postal services that prevent you ordering a hard-copy.
What I can do is point you to the Writing Skills shelf of the Amazon eBook store.
Want to pay for styling advice? - Best-selling paid eBooks on writing skills.
Brave enough to try free writing advice? = Most popular free reads on writing skills.
Not a bad tool for the new author. A great pity that such a powerful crowd-sourcing platform should once again exclude a mass of authors that happen to live in countries who might not write in or speak English. Still, I think determined authors will still be better off self-publishing online and listing their own title on Amazon. This would raise potential royalties to 70% and avoid any form of exclusivity.
For those authors who think that partnering with Amazon using Kindle Scout is a good thing, here is where you need to click.
Further Reading on the Kindle Scout platform for authors