Kindle Scout is a fantastic program and it’s definitely something any aspiring author should consider. Unfortunately, the process is a little confusing when you first get started and there’s some conflicting information out there on the internet, so I thought I’d give my own advice on the subject. Don’t get me wrong…just because Devils Glen won a contract, doesn’t mean I’m an expert. But I think it might be worthwhile for me to give my thoughts and share some tips I picked up along the way.
No One Knows How They Decide
You’ll find a lot of info online about how the KS people decide which books will win contracts. It’s all guess-work. Some books with tons of nominations/views didn’t receive contracts and others with low numbers did. It’s hard to find any kind of pattern.
It’s most likely the case that KS will pick your book if they like it, regardless of popularity. Nominations have to help, I’m sure, but they won’t win you a contract if your book isn’t any good. Aside from that, no one really knows what goes into the thought process. Still, there are some things you should do before and during your campaign just to be safe.
Edit Before You Enter
There is one thing I know for sure. The books I’ve seen win were all professionally edited. And no, you should not count on yourself to edit. It’s always better to have someone else do it. That’s not to say you have to spend a fortune on editing services, but your book should be clean and free of major typos, grammar problems, etc. There are relatively cheap editors you can find online who are perfectly capable of cleaning up your manuscript for you. Yes, it will cost some money but if you were thinking of self-publishing, you would have needed to get this done anyway.
Make a Great Cover
Almost all the winning books I’ve seen have one thing in common; they have well-designed covers. I got lucky that my wife was a graphic designer. If you’re not that lucky, you will need to spend some dollars on a professional-looking cover. Again, you won’t have to spend a fortune on this either. There are some affordable options out there if you spend a little time looking. Some of the pre-made covers are very nice and quite economical if you can find one that fits your book.
Like it or not, people do judge books by the cover. Make sure yours catches the eye in a good way.
Use Social Media Effectively
This is true even if you don’t win a contract. If you’re going to be a writer these days, it’s imperative that you have a presence on at least one of the major social media outlets. I’ve heard from several writers who proudly proclaim their disdain for social media…I don’t understand that mentality. Facebook and Twitter are great ways to connect with old friends and acquaintances, but they’re also fantastic ways to market your book, art, or business. Just don’t overdo it or people will unfollow you.
I’m a fan of Facebook most of all, so I focus the lion’s share of my effort there. Twitter is so chock full of author spam, it’s not as easy to get traction. Instagram isn’t as well suited for books, so I use it sparingly.
If you don’t have many Facebook friends yet, search for your high school and college alum groups. You will have access to hundreds of people who graduated in or around your same year. My former classmates tended to be among those most excited about my forthcoming book and they showed their enthusiasm throughout my campaign.
You will also find what I call ‘shout-out’ services. These services offer to promote your campaign all over social media for a fee. I didn’t use any of these tools, so I can’t comment on whether they work or not, but I feel like they might be a waste of money. I believe your money would be better spent on editing your book and getting a professional cover design.
Connect With Fellow Campaigners
You will find a wealth of info on some of the Kindle Scout forums, and not just about KS. You’ll get fantastic advice for what to do after the campaign is over and pretty much any publishing topic you can imagine. It’s been invaluable to me. This one, in particular, was a godsend…
YouTube has several channels with great information as well.
Well, I hope this information is helpful to you. Please comment any questions or thoughts. Good luck with your campaign!