About KindleScout and why I submitted my book

Screen grab of my campaign preview page.
Screen grab of my campaign preview page.

As many of you know, Amazon has a number of “imprints” that publish books, kind of like traditional publishers. Unlike traditional publishers, they appear to have much more author friendly contracts (as in not trying to screw you with a lubeless spiked condom). Kindle Press is their eBook and Audio Book publishing division. Being Amazon, they developed KindleScout, an interesting program to find books to publish.

Writers submit ready to publish manuscripts and cover art to the program. Amazon reviews the material and if it meets their standards, they create a “campaign page” for the book, which includes the following:

  • Tagline and book blurb
  • Book cover
  • Sample of first pages
  • Author bio and cover
  • Three questions and answers about the book or author
  • Author’s social media/website info
  • Display of Author’s backlist on Amazon.

The purpose of all of this is you have a 30-day campaign where readers get to browse all the books currently in a campaign. They nominate a book and if that book is selected for publication, they get a free early copy. Amazon considers the rank when deciding if they will offer a publishing contract.

Below is the synopsis of the agreement. The bolding is mine. Read the entire agreement here.

Synopsis of Submission & Publishing Agreement

At the time of submission you will be asked to review and accept the Kindle Press Submission & Publishing Agreement. This agreement gives us certain rights to your work and gives you certain rights and obligations. Below is a helpful summary of the major points in the agreement, but it is neither part of the agreement nor intended to replace reading the full agreement. The agreement alone forms the contract between you and us.

You give:

  • An opportunity to consider your book for publication during a 45-day exclusivity period, starting as soon as you submit to Kindle Scout. You also give us the right to display an excerpt of your manuscript, your name and photo, and other materials you submit to us on the Kindle Scout site and distribute your work in order to solicit feedback.
  • If your book is selected for publication by Kindle Press, we’ll have the exclusive worldwide right to publish it in eBook and audio formats, in all languages, for a term beginning on the selection date and auto-renewing every five years. If you do not earn at least $25,000 during any 5-year term, you’ll have six months after the end of that 5-year period in which you can choose to stop publishing with us and request your rights back.

You get:

  • An opportunity to get paid for your writing. We’re looking for never-before-published books of about 50,000 words or more. If we select your book for publication, you will be entitled to a $1,500 advance and royalties on net revenues at a rate of 50% for eBooks, 25% for audio editions and 20% for translations.
  • If your book is selected for publication by Kindle Press and you later want to stop publishing with us, you’ll be able to get your rights back in a variety of circumstances.

My take on it

What will it cost me?

Not a dime. The only cost is time. First, is the 45-day exclusive period where I can’t do anything with the electronic rights for my books. What this means is I have to wait 45-days to self-publish the ebook through KDP or other online outlets. It took me a year to write the damn thing, I can wait a month and a half. But notice this is only for ebook and audio rights. I can go ahead and launch a print version if I want to.

The other cost will be the time and effort to promote my campaign. You need to be honest about this. It is a popularity contest. I get that. I’m okay with that because that’s kind of what selling books is about. My plan is a few Facebook post, a blog post or two and send out a newsletter about it. And what will be will be.

What do I expect?

A bit of exposure. I love the fact that Amazon has really designed the campaign pages to promote not just this new work but me as a writer with a backlist. In my research about Scout, I found this was the number one reason people that have done campaigns recommended doing it. Even if you don’t get offered an agreement, and the odds are you won’t, people are still seeing you and your work. They can click on one of your other books and go buy it. And if they nominated your book and it didn’t get published, they still get a little thank you note from you, so you’ve developed a relationship with these potential readers. When sales are all about discoverability and that is becoming harder and harder, a wait of 45-days seems damn cheep to me.

I’ve read that a number of indie writers have now worked Scout into their publishing workflow. When the book is ready to go, they submit and then wait the 45-days. They see that as a way to build up pre-release buzz. I’ll see how this campaign goes and see if I want to do that.

Oh, and if I am offered an agreement? Well I think the terms are very good. I like they state how I can get my rights back. It is only for 5 years, unlike most publishing contracts that are for life of copyright (that is 70 years after I am dead). And I’ll take $1,500 down and a 50% cut of the sales. I normally get 70% from sales, but then I’ll give up 20% to have Amazon market one of my stories. You know what that would do for my other work? This whole thing is about promotion. At the moment, I’m loving it. Oh and notice they assume you will pull in $25K over five years or you get the rights back. How many other publishers offer that?

 

My campaign for Of Paradise and Purgatory begins this Saturday. I’ll have a post with the link then. I’d appreciate it if you’d go and nominate it.

 

Thanks,
Stephen

 

Author: Stephen del Mar

Stephen del Mar lives in the Tampa Bay area and writes in the Southern Literary tradition. His stories are character driven with rich settings. They often have a touch of the paranormal, supernatural, or magical realism. Although he writes about serious subjects, they are sweetened with humor and wit. He says, "It's a southern thing."