I'm so happy to welcome fellow Georgia Romance Writer and Seeker Villager, Walt Mussell, to Seekerville today. Walt's going to explain an amazing opportunity for writers and readers. Walt, thanks for being with us!
Debby, thank you for having me. I’m ecstatic to be back in Seekerville!
I still remember back in March 2017 when I received an email from Amazon notifying me that my novel, The Samurai’s Heart, had been selected for publication through the Kindle Scout program. I think the word “finally” accompanied the relief that flowed through me. I showed the email to my wife and then sat down and let it sink in. . .I was going to be a published author.
So I’m here today to talk about Kindle Scout and the opportunity it provides not only unpublished authors, but ANYONE who wishes to submit their novel for consideration.
Kindle Scout is an ongoing, reader-driven competition. It can be found at kindlescout.amazon.com. Authors submit an unpublished work to Amazon, along with their bio, a blurb, a tagline, and the answers to a few author-type questions. Amazon will review your submission, and then create a campaign page with an excerpt, posting it on the Kindle Scout website. Submissions are never removed from the site, so I’ve posted a screenshot of mine below.
The excerpt will be posted for 30 days, along with 150-200 other hopefuls. Readers will vote on the submissions. After the 30-day period expires, Amazon reviews the campaign and notifies you of their decision. The whole process, from submission to notification, lasts no longer than 45 days.
For readers, aka Scouters, it’s a great opportunity. If you vote for a book that’s selected by Amazon, you receive a free copy prior to the publish date. Scouters can have only three active votes at one time, so avid Scouters review books that are soon to expire and then choose new ones when their votes open up again.
For authors, though, it’s nail biting…and only 3% are chosen.
So would I recommend it? The answer is yes. The whys are below.
1) Before you submit to Amazon, you must polish your book. Had I not been selected, I would have self-published my book. It was ready to go.
2) If you self-publish your book, Amazon sends out an e-mail blast to everyone who voted for you, providing instant traction.
3) During your Kindle Scout campaign, you receive a lot of stats from Amazon on things like where your traffic is coming from, how many page views you have, and your time in the “Hot and Trending” category (the top 20 books on the site). The only thing you don’t know is the number of nominations you have. I’ve posted a picture of my page view stats below.
So what does it take to be selected? I wish I had a straight answer. The Kindle Scout Winners don’t know for certain either. Is it the “Hot and Trending” list? Is it the number of page views or nominations? Amazon will not comment. My personal thought on the subject is traffic. Kindle Scout is a bit like a literary Netflix. If selected, your e-book becomes exclusive to Amazon. Books that expand traffic to new readers grow the reader base. Books that get readers to spend a lot of time on a selection get noticed by Amazon.
In other words, the most important thing remains the same. . .the book.
I have asked some of my fellow Kindle Scouters for their suggestions on what authors should concentrate on. Two comments are below:
“Focus on the story and learning how to hook readers. First impressions matter a lot for newcomers.”
- Lincoln Cole, author of Kindle Scout winner Raven’s Peak and the Kindle Scout Guide (a primer for authors planning to submit)
“Kindle Scout readers and publishers are looking for well-written, marketable books. So, focus on having a spectacular one line and blurb, a good cover, and a well-written, well-edited book, not on the campaign itself. That's your free ticket to a contract.”
- Cristiane Serruya, USA Today bestselling author and Kindle Scout winner with her book Love Painted in Red
One thing more to mention. Your submission is the signing of a contract. When you submit, you give a 45-day exclusive to Amazon and you’re committed if Amazon says yes. But the benefits make it worth it:
1) A $1,500 advance
2) Retention of paperback rights. Easy reversion of other rights.
3) Amazon’s marketing
Seekerville, thank you again for having me. Please ask any questions you have about Kindle Scout. I’m giving away four e-copies of my book. I can send these pretty much anywhere in the world. (e.g. I’ve sent books as gifts from the U.S. and people have been able to download them in other countries.) For anyone interested, Amazon has my e-book on sale for $1.99 in the U.S. (link: http://amzn.to/2EXwoh2 ) and Canada (link: http://amzn.to/2Bna4NS).
Also, I have a new website at www.waltmussell.com. It just went live this month and I would love visitors, as well as people to sign up for my newsletter. (I was at a conference last November and one of the publishers told me I would need a newsletter of 7000 for them to consider a book like mine. This will take time. 😊) Thank you.
Walt Mussell lives in an Atlanta-area suburb with his wife and their two boys. He works for a non-bank finance company and writes in his spare time. Walt primarily writes historicals, with a particular focus on Japan, an interest he gained during the four years he lived there. He refers to his work as “Like Shogun, but the heroine survives.”
Walt is a member of Georgia Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. He is a 2017 Kindle Scout winner, which led to the contract for his first novel, The Samurai's Heart.
The Samurai's Heart
Imagine you're in medieval Japan where your duty to faith can get you killed...or worse.
With the death of her older sister and sole sibling, Sen must return home and find a husband to marry into the family swordsmith business. Failure ensures her family's craft, honed through generations, will die. Her father's handsome apprentice, Nobuhiro, would seem the ideal choice for a husband and her parents press the issue. Sen rejects this offer as she wants a Christian husband, difficult as the religion is banned. Eschewing her parents' advice, Sen decides to seek out local Christians to find a suitable match.
The prodigal third son of a high-level samurai, Nobuhiro seeks to prove his worth to his harsh father by becoming a great swordsmith. But when his master's daughter begins seeking local Christians, he finds he must protect her from the group of anti-Christians that killed her sister. Despite his growing attraction to her, he believes her devotion to her faith reckless. Yet failure to protect her dooms the family he serves. And falling for a Christian dooms reconciliation with his own father, who must enforce the ban.
Will faith forge love or will it forge death?