Once again, I’m submitting a novel to Kindle Scout. In October I had submitted Love, Lies & Clones to the program. I had no idea what I was doing. Now, I thought I’d try again…this time with a little more thought to the process. (My goal is to get it submitted by February 1st)
What is Kindle Scout? It’s Amazon’s publishing platform, different than self-publishing, where Kindle Press is your publisher. Because of this, you earn less royalties than self-publishing (still more than traditional publishing), but Amazon does the marketing for you. Here’s a great blog post about the topic from Kindle Scout Winner, S.G. Basu.
For me, it’s really not about winning a publishing contract. In fact, I have mixed feelings about that in general. (For Love, Lies & Clones, I remember having a small panic attack that I’d give up control of the manuscript if I won.) I’m doing this for three primary reasons:
- It gives me a deadline. Otherwise, I’d nitpick and rearrange the novel forever. I want to move on!
- I’m still struggling on my cover choice. Kindle Scout gives me an opportunity to test one.
- It’s a little bit of free advertising/marketing.
When readers peruse the Kindle Scout website, they see very little of your novel, only the cover, title, and tagline. Because of this, these three items need to shine. Your goal is to have them click into your novel to read more…and hopefully, nominate you. (The jury is still out if Amazon actually uses this data in their decision, but I’m running this for other reason, I want to see if my book package is tight enough for publication.)
Cover: I mentioned how I struggled on this. I had it down to two choices and actually did a Facebook A/B testing ad (both ended up nearly equal) then I polled my Facebook friends/followers for their opinion. I had almost unanimous feedback for the red one. WHICH GOES AGAINST EVERYTHING I’VE READ ABOUT COVER CREATION! You want to look like other covers in the genre. Because I’m taking a chance with the cover, Kindle Scout is a perfect test run before publishing.
Title: I ALWAYS struggle with titles. Without a doubt, a title is one of the key features that sells a book (or gets nominations in the case of Kindle Scout.) The novel I’m submitting has been called BLOOD & HOLY WATER ever since I created the idea 12+ years ago. I toyed with some new title ideas, something more catchy, but couldn’t find “the one.” Well, I’m keeping my original title. (Oh, and ampersands (&) don’t show up right on Kindle Scout emails, so my advice is to spell out the word “and” instead of abbreviating. It’s better than the gobbly-gook on the KS emails.)
Log line: The maximum length of this hook is only 45 characters. Yeah, this was nearly impossible. I ended up coming up with four ideas and conducting a Facebook survey about it. The goal is to grab your reader’s attention. (I’m still not sure what log line I’m using. Voting is still open and I have until Tuesday to decide. If you want to help, you can VOTE HERE.
The combo of cover, title, and tagline is all you have to attract the reader to click your book to read more. If these are not strong, your campaign will probably not succeed.
Now that you have your potential reader’s attention, you need to get their vote. To capture this, there are two key parts: book description and excerpt. (And the book description needs to be good for them to read on to the excerpt.)
Book description: Your novel wrapped up in a tidy, 500 character blurb. (Yeah, CHARACTERS, not words. And that includes spaces!) The worst part is you can’t use the “enter” key. It all shows up in a big chunk of text. Here’s what I’m going with, I don’t know if it’s the best, but it’s what I can do with such limited space. My goal was to show the two main character’s personalities here.
Ava’s sick of mundane angel duties. She wants a promotion to finally earn her wings. A promotion takes more than hard work, it takes a miracle–literally. Unfortunately, her miracle’s impossible, as it involves a vampire. Fin has no time for frivolous gestures. He’s too busy avoiding his own kind to care what a naïve angel wants. But when the other vampires uncover his deepest secret, threatening what he cherishes most, nothing can help him except a miracle. Too bad he chased the angel away.
Book excerpt: This comes from your uploaded document. Yup, you need to upload your entire novel here. Kindle Scout says it should be complete, free of errors, and professionally edited. Okay. I cheat a little. I understand that if KS selects you, you have a few weeks to resubmit a beautified document to them. Because of this, I submit to Kindle Scout at the same time that I turn my manuscript over to my editor. I figure, my document is pretty good already, I’ve had ten (or more) beta readers that have nitpicked the grammar, etc. Now, this may count against me for the KS campaign, so I don’t advise to it, but it’s a decision I make…well…because I’m a little impatient.
Other things to consider:
Book Categories: Where does your book fit? Tip: If it fits in more than one category, PICK it! You’ll get more exposure that way. Mine is urban fantasy with a touch of paranormal romance and suspense, so I picked all three categories. The book will show up in three different carousels then, hopefully capturing more reader attention.
Author Bio: I had read somewhere your bio should be memorable. I lightened mine up since last time and went with this. Hopefully, it creates an impression. Yeah, 500 CHARACTER limit here too. Maybe I should have went shorter… Oh well.
Joynell Schultz was raised at a zoo (yea, bring on the jokes) which gave her a love of animals. She spends her days working as a veterinary pharmacist & spends her nights (cough, cough—very early mornings) creating imaginary worlds writing speculative fiction. When she’s not trying to put food on the table (take-out, of course) for her husband & two children (& keeping it away from her sneaky Great Dane), she spends her time reading, writing, enjoying the outdoors, & planning her next vacation.
Author Questions: There is a whole slew of questions you can answer about yourself, and your book. I don’t think that they necessarily make any difference in the campaign outcome, but I figured, why not answer some.
Thank you note: Oh, with my first campaign, I completely missed the boat on this. I filled it out very politely, but everyone does that. This time, I’m making it pop. Don’t start with “thank you” everyone says those two words. I’m keeping it short and not including a pile of links, since those go out with the email anyway.
Holy crap! I’m thrilled you voted for me. I can’t express my gratitude for your support. I’d LOVE to have your continued support by joining my newsletter list. It’s simple, just visit this website: http://eepurl.com/ccWKDn. Via my newsletter, I’ll make sure to let you know when BLOOD & HOLY WATER is available on Amazon.com.
Author photo: Lastly, you upload an author picture. Yikes. I’m sure there is psychology behind picking a photo, but I HATE photos. I didn’t spend much time on this and used the photo I currently have everywhere. Someday, I’ll get a better one…like when I lose 30 pounds. Ha Ha. Like that’ll happen.
So… How does this all come together.
(But keep in mind that the circled parts are all the potential readers will see UNLESS they click your cover.)
Because your novel will show up like this on the Kindle Scout home page:
Once you hit submit, this isn’t over. There’s still the question of promoting your novel, but I’ll save that blog post for another day.
If you’d like to read more, Lincoln Cole, a Kindle Scout winner, has a fantastic reference book. It’s called “Kindle Scout Guide: How to Run a Hot & Trending Campaign and Improve Your Odds of Getting Picked” This is THE book to get to walk you through your campaign, from preparation, to marketing, to what happens next.