RIP: Kindle Scout
Just a little over three years since its first round of books was released, the “crowd-sourced publishing platform” that was Kindle Scout is being closed down. I received an announcement today of the news, along with other authors who have had books selected through the program and published by Kindle Press.
As of today, April 3rd, Kindle Scout will no longer accept new submissions. The books that have been published through the program will remain within the Amazon wheelhouse for now and we’re being told will still be eligible for inclusion for promotional opportunities. I suspect, however, that quite a few Kindle Press authors who have been on the fence will now request their rights reversion and move on to self-publish their novels or find another home for them elsewhere.
Having been one of the first authors published through the Kindle Scout program I find the news disappointing but far from unexpected. Kindle Scout was always an experiment, and while the intentions were good I don’t think it took off like Amazon might have hoped. Publishers — both big and small — come and go, and in today’s ever evolving landscape one certainly can’t fault a corporation or publisher for trying something innovative, whether or not it proves to be a success. In truth, I wish more publishers were looking at breaking the mold and finding ways to disrupt the “tried and true” practices of the industry which have become more “tired” than “true”.
So the big question which will now be asked is whether Kindle Scout was a failure. The answers, of course, will vary, but I’ve always looked at the program as just one stepping stone along a path leading to success. One can look to authors like Sariah Wilson or Michael McBride, for which their Kindle Scout winning novels led to landing further deals with either Amazon or big five publishing companies. And for many Kindle Scout authors, myself included, having a company like Amazon select your book over thousands of entries was a moment of validation, a glimpse that the end of the long and lonely writing tunnel just might end with light.
And yet for every successful story that came out of Kindle Scout there have been just as many authors disappointed with the program. Some books received far less marketing support than others, and some authors have sold far more books self-publishing than they ever have through Kindle Scout. The story remains: “Just add water, but results may vary.”
As for my experience, I’m grateful I had a chance to be a part of it. For a debut novelist with no foreknowledge of publishing or marketing books, Housebroken has been a repeated #1 best-selling novel on Amazon for Horror, broke into the top 100 best-selling books on Amazon, remained #1 in Horror in the UK for over a month, and has sold almost 10,000 copies to date. The Kindle Scout experience has been a jumpstart to my career as an author. It’s also enabled me to connect with a community of authors I never would have known otherwise and reach an audience far wider than the little bubble I travel in. My novel has been picked up by a premier publisher for a limited hardcover release (more details to come), has landed an amazing actor to do the voice work for an audiobook adaptation, and is in the early stages of being optioned for a film (you’ll know more if / when I do). To say that the program is a failure is to dismiss every author for whom doors have been opened because of Kindle Scout.
So whether Kindle Press evolves into something new or permanently closes, remember this isn’t the end of the story. It’s only the end of a chapter. And who knows how many book this series might sustain? I bid a fond farewell to the Kindle Scout program and look forward to whatever twists and turns the future may hold.