Please welcome my Wednesday guest, James M. Jackson, author of the Seamus McCree novels. Ant Farm (Spring 2015), a prequel to Bad Policy (2013) and Cabin Fever (2014), recently won a Kindle Scout nomination. Ebook published by Kindle Press; print from Wolf’s Echo Press. Bad Policy won the Evan Marshall Fiction Makeover Contest for freshness and commercial potential of the story and quality of the writing. Jim has published an acclaimed book on contract bridge, One Trick at a Time: How to Start Winning at Bridge (Master Point Press 2012), as well as numerous short stories and essays. Find more information about Jim and his writing at http://jamesmjackson.com.
There are so many possible paths to publication nowadays, and Kindle Scout is just one possibility. [If you haven’t heard of Kindle Scout, it is an Amazon platform to allow readers to “nominate” books for Kindle Press to publish as ebooks. Think “American Idol” meets corporate behemoth Amazon.]
To help you decide if Kindle Scout might make sense for you, I’ve designed a little decision tree. If you answer “no” to any question, Kindle Scout is not what you want. If you get through all the questions and are still yessing, then I have some links to help you make a final determination.
Is your manuscript fiction? [No? The Kindle Scout program is only open to fiction. It started with Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller and Science Fiction/Fantasy, and later added Literature & Fiction, which includes Action and Adventure. Nonfiction won’t go, nor will children’s literature, foreign languages, etc.]
Do you have a U.S. bank account and tax number? [No? So far the program is only open to people who Kindle Press can pay in the U.S., even though your books are sold throughout the world wherever Amazon does business.]
Will you only be satisfied with a traditional publishing contract? [No? You need a traditional publishing contract, which Kindle Scout is not.]
Are you willing to have different publishers for the print and electronic versions of your book? [No? The Kindle Press contract only covers ebooks and digital audio books. If you want a print edition of your book, you must either obtain a print-only publisher or self-publish.]
Are you willing to have your ebook and audio book only available on Amazon? [No? The Kindle Press contract locks your electronic books to the Amazon platform.]
Are you willing to have your electronic books part of the Kindle Unlimited subscription service? [No? Kindle Press is not for you.]
Is it okay if no digital audio book is made in the first two years? [No? Kindle Press is not required to produce an Audible book; your rights revert back to you if they don’t produce one within two years. In their first six months of operation they have not yet produced any.]
Is your manuscript finalized so it can be published without any further copyedits? [No? The Kindle Press contract does not require them to make any changes to the text you submit. Of course, if that answer is no, you aren’t really ready to self-publish either. Note: Kindle Press has copyedited all books it has published to date.]
Do you have a professional-looking book cover? [No? Kindle Press requires you to have a book cover. During the thirty-day nomination process that is the first thing prospective readers (called “Scouts”) will see. Again, you should have this for a self-published manuscript as well.]
Are you willing to give up pricing and promotional decisions to a ginormous corporation? [No? Then you really need to be an Indie publisher.]
Are you willing to wait two and a half or three months for publication? [No? Because you must have a complete manuscript and book cover to enter the Kindle Scout nomination process, you could be Indie publishing as soon as you format the manuscript and upload it. The Kindle Scout nomination process takes around forty days from submission to approval. Because Kindle Press has been copyediting, add another six weeks or so plus a week for formatting and, best case, you are ten weeks out. With glitches (and I had several) it will be a longer delay.]
Congratulations, you’ve said “yes,” or at least not “no,” to all of the questions. Kindle Scout may make sense for you.
What advantages might Kindle Scout have compared to Indie publishing?
$1,500 advance on royalties paid within thirty days of being selected
Amazon promotion – there are no guarantees, and Kindle Press is only one of a number of Amazon imprints. However, early Kindle Press publications have received various pushes from Amazon.
International sales: Your electronic book will be available in North America, the U.K., Australia and Germany through Amazon subsidiaries.
One final copyedit—again, not promised, but currently they are contracting with Kirkus editors for copyedits. Every author I have talked to has been very pleased with their edits.
Free publicity during the thirty-day Kindle Scout nomination period. If you are selected by Kindle Press, those who nominate your book will receive a free Kindle version (and are asked to leave reviews). If you are not selected, those who nominate your book have recently been given the option to receive an email when your book does become available (from your Indie publishing or from another publisher.)
Decent royalties (given there is an advance): 50% on ebooks; 20% on digital audio
Rights reversions are clear: After two years if book does not hit minimum royalty levels ($500 in any trailing twelve-month period) you may reclaim your rights. After five years if you haven’t received at least $25,000 in royalties you may revert your rights. If Kindle Press does not publish within six months (ebook) or two years (digital audio) you may reclaim rights.
What are the disadvantages of Kindle Scout relative to Indie publishing?
As an Indie publisher you can choose whether to distribute through all channels or receive higher royalty rates going exclusively with Kindle. Thus, if you are going to stay within the Amazon umbrella anyway, you are giving up royalties per book.
As an Indie you retain control over pricing, whether or not to have an audio book, promotions, etc. With Kindle Press you are relying on Amazon’s marketing power and self-interest to benefit you.
That, I think is the crux of your decision if you compare Indie to the Kindle Scout route. Will the Amazon marketing power make a difference in sales? So far, most of the Kindle Press published authors have been happy with their results. As the program continues to roll out, I think it will be worthwhile to pay attention to the opinion of Kindle Press’s authors. Recognize that it is in their interest to promote the Kindle Scout program, so if you hear issues or complaints or concerns, dig deeper.
As promised, here are some links with additional details.
Official Information About Kindle Scout: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/about
Official Kindle Scout guidelines for submission: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/submit
Official Contract Terms: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/agreement
Kindle Scout Selected Books: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/selected