In practical terms this means a person participating in the Kindle Scout program may wait a full week after their campaign is over to be told whether they will be published. In practice, my email came on Tuesday. The results?
Congraulations. You are being published.
A series of emails follows the initial contact email. A series of 'milestones' are set for you to accomplish before you get to talk to anyone at Amazon, and the first is getting your account setup, across multiple countries in the world, so that purchases of your book will be deposited to your account. It's a relatively straightforward process as information entered for the United States can be copied directly to forms involving other countries without an issue. Following the completion of this tax information, you are notified that you will receive an advance within 30 days. That was certainly the case for me, as my money was deposited by the first week of April.
After your tax information has been completed and a few days have been passed, you're finally presented the opportunity to speak with those running the Scout program at Amazon. While I won't divulge specific names here, all Kindle Scout winners (to this point) become well acquainted with the same names. The phone call itself, which takes place roughly within a week of your email notification, is to determine your plans, give some insight into Amazon's position, and to notify you of the rough timeline your book will follow before publication.
Of course, by the time of this phone call it's been a month since your Scout program began and an additional three weeks of email tag. That makes the waiting frustrating but in the end, quite worth it. Among some of the key information you're given is the fact that your book will be edited. While Amazon remains unsure as of now whether they will continue providing copy edit services to Scout winners, so far it seems they've been pleased with the results and the positive media that's resulted. One of the initial concerns with Amazon's Scout program was the lack of copy editing despite the massive retailer acting like a publishing label; the use of copy edit services helps dismiss that concern. Of course the edit won't begin until roughly two weeks after your phone conversation, and then will take somewhere in the area of a month and a half to complete. That means, from beginning to end, that the Scout program will take four to five months of your life before it's finally out of the door for publication. My current date is set for the first week of June, six months after I wrote Floor 21 and four months since I submitted it for consideration.
In writing this four part series, I've touched on everything from my writing process, the development of my book and finally, the obvious details of the Scout program. So what key points of advice could I leave for anyone considering submitting to the Kindle Scout program?
- Be in it for the long haul. After writing your book and submitting it, it can be close to half a year before you're able to finally see your book out of the door and being read by buyers.
- Be able to market yourself. A consistent trend among winners is their ability to get onto the Hot list for at least two weeks, and almost every winner I've talked to either has a following from past published works or has been able to effectively sell their current work to prospective readers. I myself generated a fandom by relentlessly lobbying my work to fans of the genre, taking out small advertisements and encouraging my readers to share the book and its general story with others.
- Marketing is partly the ability to pitch your work and partly the ability to draw random viewers coming to the Scout website. What's the easiest way to do this? Create or contract compelling, high quality cover art that draws a reader's attention. Sales start with someone noticing your book. This goes for both traditional retailers and ebooks. Make your cover shine.
- On the same note, any good cover needs a good pitch. Cut and refine your two or three sentence elevator pitch until it's so good that you can sell the concept to someone in less than 30 seconds. If you have to take more than a minute to sell your book, you've lost the buyer.
- Once again picking up off the last two points, a good cover and pitch won't help you win buyers and voters if your work is sloppy. I personally edit a book four times and sometimes five times before I feel it's complete, and did so with Floor 21. Amazon doesn't provide editing services until after you win, so if your readers are turned off by your terrible writing, the blame is on you.
- Network. Social media is powerful if you use it wisely. Tweets thrown into the wind and Facebook posts that garner no responses are worthless. Post to places and writing groups with your idea first to see if you can garner a following. Cultivate that following by updating your fans frequently and engaging them in the voting process. If they don't give you word of mouth, your book won't win and it certainly wouldn't sell. So make a compelling story people want to talk about.
- You're not as good as you think you are. Listen when people voice concerns about your manuscript or campaign.
Time's gonna' pass either way, whether you're working at it or not. So work.
I hope this series of posts has been helpful to all of you aspiring writers.
"You're gonna carry that weight."