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Failing at Kindle Scout

Posted on Dec 2, 2014 by in The Scrawl |

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As some of you who nominated me have no doubt heard via the automated email Amazon sent out, I did not get selected for the Kindle Scout program. Cue the sad trombones. And as I promised I would do, I wanted to give you guys a close up look at how it all worked, what I liked about it, and what I generally disliked about it.

1. Kindle Scout offers exactly nothing to help you succeed with it.

So what do I mean by that? Kindle Scout is, more or less, Kindle Direct Publishing with a carrot dangled off the end. That’s it. That’s all. Once you “win” you’re given a little chunk of money and then are told to market, design, proof, edit, and promote your own work, by yourself, mostly from then on. Of course you get mentioned in Amazon mass emails and likely get a little bump on the website, but you’re still just doing it their way, in their system, benefiting them almost entirely.

2. Kindle Scout gives you absolutely no way to know whether or not your marketing efforts are successful or not outside of their vague “Hot and Trending” section.

Now, that said, I will present to you Exhibit A, for why I believe that this program might lean heavier towards total number of votes than towards quality of content:



This book went into and stayed in the Hot and Trending section the entire time it was available for nomination. This book. Right there. Just look at it. I have no personal beef with this man nor do I even know him, but I can say clearly he did a better job marketing this work than I did my own. He sold this book to an audience, that audience clearly nominated him repeatedly, over and over, and Amazon listened to their voices. Would I ever, ever buy a copy of this book? No. I wouldn’t read it if it were given to me.

3. Kindle Scout is an okay first step.

I think that if this is the direction the publishing industry is heading in, this isn’t a bad first step. Amazon needs to sell books but, and I think this is critical, they have to sell their platform. They make far more money being the conduit than they do producing a superior product. Just think about how many times you have ordered something from them, books or not, and received it from a third party. Or how about how they have pushed the limits of common sense to achieve ridiculously fast delivery times? Amazon is a platform and this program was just another piece of that platform.

4. Someone else can do this better.

Amazon isn’t in the book business. They aren’t in even in the Kindle Fire, TV, Phone, Blender, Floorwax business either. All of those things are just where Amazon has decided to make money by supporting their existing platform. I believe publishers could absolutely do this so much better than Amazon can. But Amazon lost exactly nothing on this transaction. They paid $13,500 to the nine winners. I’d wager that each of those nine winners provided amazon over a thousand interested parties who will now receive email information concerning future Kindle content. So Amazon paid about a dollar and a half for those interested folks who will likely participate in this in the future.

Amazon won big on a minuscule investment for them.

I believe in the power of the story, the strength of the written word, and that we as a culture are far from done with it. But I also think this is one more stilted little half-step towards the next evolution here.

So what’s next for me? Next up comes the interesting part. Next up comes the building of an audience. I’m currently in the third volume of a trilogy* that will be ready for publication by February of next year. In January of next year, however, I will begin a new and interesting experiment that will give you all loads of content, almost all of it for free.

Follow me on Twitter, like me on Facebook or subscribe via email and you will be able to see what happens then.

*My trilogy is not about Aliens vs. Rabid Marmots