Choose Your Own Adventure: Reflections on Kindle Scout
Remember those books from the eighties, “Choose Your Own Adventure?”
You’d read the first three or four pages and then have a decision to make for your adventurers, one which lead to page five, the other to page 219. Each decision from there would continue to leap through the book until your characters either died (the most frequent conclusion) or you found a happy ending (there weren’t many).
I devoured these books as a kid, but I would literally earmark every page that wound down different paths so that I could go back and follow them all. I wanted to live every option, follow every path to its conclusion. Probably one of the reasons I love being a writer — I can live different lives, follow different paths, ones that I would never otherwise choose.
But it’s also exciting. Because there are so many paths to choose from.
Twenty years ago there was only one path — submit to an agent or publishing house and hope your dart finds its way to a target. Now you can self-publish, use traditional publishers, become a hybrid author by utilizing both paths, or just plain experiment with all the options that are out there. And one of the newest paths, which sort of combines the trad and self-publishing journey, is through Amazon’s Crowd-Scourced platform, Kindle Scout.
For those of you unfamiliar with Kindle Scout, it’s a platform that Amazon created and launched in November of 2014, a place where readers can go to nominate books they would like to see published. Those books that are selected “win” a publishing contract through Kindle Press, a new Amazon imprint, and receive similar marketing benefits as the books in Amazon’s other imprints. While the nominations are a small part of whether a book is chosen or not, it’s a great way for readers to Choose Their Own Adventures, or the books they would like to read. And if the book’s selected, those who nominate it pick up a free advanced copy. (I’ve picked up quite a few fantastic reads myself).
Since Kindle Scout’s inception, more than 100 novels have been selected and published (or are in the process of being published). One Kindle Scout winner has gone on to land a contract with MontLake, Amazon’s romance imprint, and has even had a Kindle World created based on her Kindle Scout submission. Another author’s book went straight from Kindle Scout to Little A, Amazon’s literary imprint, and was published as one of Amazon’s Kindle First novels. Many of the Kindle Scout novels have broken the Top 1000 in ratings, a select few even landing above the coveted Top 100.
It’s important to note that not everyone has seen the same success and there are a few “winners” who have felt their experience has been less than stellar. But publishing, in any medium or path, is never a guaranteed success. For me, personally, this has been an amazing way to launch my author platform, to reach readers I never would have otherwise reached, and to accomplish things I may have only dreamed of. Right now, in fact, my novel Housebroken is sitting in the #1 spot on Amazon in the UK for Horror – Suspense. It’s fun being a part of a well-oiled machine that knows how to market and sell books, above anything.
In the year and a half since Kindle Scout’s debut, we’re seeing established authors now submitting their books into the program. Michael McBride, a well-known horror author and best-selling Amazon author, recently had his novel Subterrestrial selected. Norman Prentiss, a Bram Stoker Award winner and all around fantastic person, just launched his first campaign with Odd Adventures with your Other Father. Authors with huge platforms are finding benefits to being a part of Amazon’s wheelhouse.
But the great thing about Kindle Scout is that you don’t need to have a huge readership in order to be selected. My novel, Housebroken, is proof — a debut work by an author who had no writing platform. The quality of your work and its potential for marketshare are amongst the many things the editors at Kindle Press look for, not just whether you’re “Hot and Trending.”
It’s difficult to find a publishing house that’s willing to take a chance on new novelists, but to find one that’s willing to help launch a career and get behind new voices by marketing the books as well? Say what you want, but I’ve found Amazon a supporter for authors and am grateful to be a part of the Kindle Press family. I’ve submitted a second book now through the Kindle Scout process, the sequel to my first book in The Creation Series, titled: “The Creation — Let There Be Death.”
While I’m not sure if it’s right for Kindle Press, it’s been another fun experiment and the exposure alone for my series has been worth the time and efforts spent in promoting the campaign. You can take a look at the excerpt and nominate the book here (yeah, yeah, my time for shameless promoting). This is a series I’m extremely proud of, set in the Amazon Rainforest. The premise is simple: What if the 7 days of the Creation, as found in the Bible, were started over again? But by a much more malicious “god.” It explores the themes that in order to create, one must first destroy, and is filled with flawed yet fascinating characters. And while the campaign is going on, you can pick up the first book in the Series for free by signing up for my newsletter.
So what lies ahead for the publishing world? I feel there will be many more paths and doors opening. We’re at the tipping point of innovation, and paths will soon exist for authors that no one could have predicted.
As for me? I’d like to try them all.