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My Doubts About Kindle Scout

Posted on Nov 21, 2014 by in The Scrawl |

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Being a writer is often, by definition, being vulnerable. Not to be too morbid about it, but you tend to bleed your ink all over pages and then let others test the quality of your blood. So here’s a post where I will attempt to be more vulnerable than usual concerning some of my current places of doubt with my latest foray into publishing.

Kindle Scout struck my interest almost immediately. I remember poring over the bits and pieces of the royalty agreement. I remember taking it apart, trying to find the “gotcha”. Sure, there were things in there that weren’t ideal – Amazon sets the sale price of which you get 50% – but the broad strategy contained in the idea was good. Allow readers to vote on the book they wanted to read and then work to market that book. I like that strategy. I do. So I entered. And then I noticed that no matter how many people assured me that they had nominated me, I was never achieving the status of “Hot and Trending”. That was very much not fetch. (Shut up, fetch will happen).

So I began searching out the authors who were in the “Hot and Trending” section on a consistent basis. Some of them looked like real winners. Seriously. But some of them, based on the book description and cover design, left me scratching my head. Not that the book was just not my genre (Romance) or that maybe I disagreed with the author’s pitch, but that there were straight up typos in the pitch itself. Or that the premise was beyond shaky. And what I found didn’t give me a good feeling.

One author, who I will not be outing but you can find on your own with just a little bit of work, offered a sweepstakes for a $100 Amazon gift card. You could double your chances of winning by sending the sweepstakes to others and asking them to nominate the book. Is that legal? Sure. Is it ethical? Maybe. Do I feel comfortable trying to buy my way into success? No, definitely not. I would contend that good writers want to be recognized on the quality of their work. I made this point in my last post, as a matter of fact. I don’t want to look back over my shoulder and wonder, “Did I win because I wanted to win at any cost?”

But this is one of my bigger problems with the current state of the self-publishing market. You develop a social media following and then you jump into this echo chamber of self-promotion where everybody is trying their best to get noticed, just a little, so people will risk buying their book. It’s like turning on a radio that’s nothing but ads, no content. Eventually you want more than to know what the current special is at Fishy Joe’s(popplers, naturally). You want to hear a song. Maybe some news. So my fear with Kindle Scout is it’s just another rigged game. That it’s just another place where manipulation and saturation replace quality and creativity. I might be pleasantly surprised, though. Let’s just wait and see.