I blogged a few months ago about my Kindle Scout campaign for Age of the Ashers, and so many of you were kind enough to go to my page and give the book your nomination! Thank you, by the way – I was blown away by your support!
I posted on my social media pages that, alas, my novel was not selected for publication (cue tiny violins). I wanted to share a bit about what I learned from this campaign (my third Kindle Scout campaign) and why it was my last.
Before I proceed with my lessons learned, allow me to highlight why I participated in this crowdsourced, American Idol-like publication program to begin with:
- Amazon provides a $1,500 advance to winners
- Authors sign a five-year renewable-terms publishing contract
- 50% eBook royalty rate
- There’s the possibility of subrights sales
- Promotional boosts from Amazon (this company knows how to promo products!)
- Potential opportunities to write for one of Amazon Publishing’s traditional imprints
- Super-low risk publishing with the potential for substantial yield
I first jumped on the Kindle Scout bandwagon after my literary agent broke up with me and I was considering self-publishing my first novel. No sooner had I heard about the program than I quickly made a cover on Canva, uploaded the manuscript files to Kindle Scout, and in a matter of minutes, my submission was complete!
That brings me to…
Lesson #1: Invest in a Professional Cover
Along with this would be “invest in a professional editor,” which I had (*pats self on back*). I had not, however, considered having a professional cover made because, well, if I won, then I’d cough up the cash for one.
Hello…Diana… Books are judged by their covers!
I shot myself in the foot by settling for a blah, homemade cover not once, but twice! For my second Kindle campaign for Armor for Orchids, I also failed to see the logic in putting my best foot (cover) forward (hurray for two foot idioms in a row!).
I cannot stress how much of a faux pas it is to neglect having a professional cover ready for your campaign. Hire a designer and get your cover done right! If you don’t win, you’ll probably self-publish and get a pro cover anyway (I was fortunate to publish with Evatopia Press), so why not go ahead and invest in a designer? Doing so will help ensure your book stands out, thereby attracting more eyeballs to your campaign page.
For a list of awesome cover designers, click here:
Lesson #2: Utilize Social Media
If there’s one word I hate most in the universe, it’s “self-promotion.” (Okay, I also really don’t like the words “curdle” and “pulchritudinous,” but I digress…). I’m getting better at sharing promotions on social media and posting on Facebook about new releases and such, but it’s still something I wish inconspicuous, rosy-cheeked elves would do for me – I mean, who can be annoyed by such winsome creatures?
If you want to give your Kindle Scout novel a fighting chance, you have to let people know it’s fighting to begin with.
With my first campaign, I asked only my family and closest friends to nominate Moonbow. It received a paltry 187 page views and was on the Hot & Trending list for a whopping 49 hours.
With my second campaign, I mustered it up to reach out to more friends and the few Instagram followers I had at the time. The campaign page received 288 views, but fewer hours on the Hot & Trending list than Moonbow.
For the third campaign, the one which recently ended, I went all out. I’d decided beforehand that this would be my final attempt at winning, so I figured why not get a little crazy. 😉
My sweet husband (who’s much more marketing savvy than me) set up a few Fiverr ads which brought traffic to my page. I set up a Rafflecopter giveaway on my blog, reminded readers about the campaign on my blog each week, informed my subscribers in my May newsletter, posted about it three times on my personal Facebook profile, once on my Instagram feed (I told you I don’t like self-promotion…) and several times on my Instagram story. The campaign was on the Hot & Trending list for 148 hours and had over 1,100 views. (Kindle Scout doesn’t tell you how many people actually nominated, unfortunately).
As you can see, my third attempt performed the best, in large part because I had a professional cover and put my big-girl promotion pants on.
Lesson #3: There’s No Fail-Proof Formula
Before setting up my third campaign, I did a bit of research on the “science” of Kindle Scout. I wanted to know whether things like giveaways and Fiverr ads really work and if covers are really that important. Not surprisingly, everyone had different opinions as to what worked and what didn’t.
The general consensus seems to be that no one, save for the Kindle Scout team, knows what the heck Kindle Scout is looking for. I read that some selected books have had a modest number of page views and hours on the Hot & Trending list. Other winners spent zilch on ads and didn’t even have a social media presence to speak of. Most winning books do have these things in common, though:
- Stellar cover
- Catchy tagline
- Engaging, well-written blurb
- Fit within a very specific genre, i.e., Fantasy, Romance, Mystery
It turns out that the novel that won during my 30-day campaign period belongs to a New York Times bestselling author, so you know, that helps too.
As I stated earlier, my third Kindle Scout campaign was my last. There are several reasons for this:
- It’s tiring, especially for people like me who dislike asking people for favors.
- It’s a bit nerve-racking. Thirty days doesn’t seem like a long campaign period, but add on the seven to 14 days that it takes for Kindle Scout to make a decision and time does anything but fly!
- There’s no way to track conversions and remarket to people who didn’t convert. (Kindle Scout provides only one statistic authors can use to judge the success of their campaign, and it’s only for total views.)
- You don’t receive the email addresses of those who do nominate you, so you can’t reach out to them in the future.
- There’s no feedback provided on how you can perform better in future campaigns, nor a community for aspiring Kindle Scout winners.
- I always feel a bit ridiculous having to re-launch my books to the very same people I reached out to for nominations. The good thing is that once the book is out, I can go into my Kindle Scout dashboard, let them know it’s published on Amazon, and Kindle Scout will notify everyone who voted.
I hope you found this post helpful! If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts on Kindle Scout, tweet me @dandersontyler or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!