Want a free book?
That’s the best pitch I’ve got for a pretty-cool program I’ve signed up for with Amazon, where I’ll be listed starting tomorrow. Wanted to talk it through in concept, the whys, the hows, before I started plastering links for it everywhere – support my book!
So. Amazon Scout. I’ve known about it for a while and, like everything else in the last year, any thought I had of getting into it was postponed until now. I got HDM: Miami done, Portal Jumpers was up next.
I’ve wanted to do something more formal through Amazon for a while, now, because Amazon is the biggest single market on the planet and I’m willing to look at tactical ways to use that market, so long as the commitment is finite and reasonable. I’ve been in Select for a while now (looking at dropping out with all of my Sam & Sam books as well as HDM in the next 6 months, so get your download now if you’re planning it) and I’ve appreciated the opportunities I’ve gotten there – now I’m going to go see what I get from being available in the other digital markets.
I really wanted to do the Serials program as my next experiment, because I’ve heard that there is a healthy body of readers who like reading a larger story in smaller installments, so I wrote Portal Jumpers in a format where I could break it into serial pieces. Then Amazon shut it down – don’t know if it was for lack of interest from writers or audience – and that made me sad, but Portal Jumpers works just as well as a single unit, or I could just publish it as episodes on my own. At that time Kindle Unlimited was rewarding serial writers.
Then came Scout. Most readers don’t know, because most readers don’t care (good for you!) that Amazon publishes books. Not just sells them, but actually publishes them. And, unlike any publisher I know of, they don’t have an author’s path to publishing outside of simply standing out in sales. You don’t approach Amazon publishing. They approach you. And the data says that, once they’ve picked their books, they do a darned good job keeping those authors selling. (No kidding, right? Amazon knows how to sell books. Gee.) I like being an indie author. Genuinely. I write what I want to write, when I want to write it, and if I don’t publish anything for a year, there isn’t a professional out there whose year I just screwed up. I like that. But, like I said, I’d love to try some of the special opportunities from working with Amazon, and Amazon publishing was a room I couldn’t get into – no door.
But Scout, Scout is that door. It’s not an Amazon imprint, the way the real imprints are, nor is it ‘crowdsourced’ publishing the way they advertise it.
Scout is a low-risk audition both for Amazon and the writer. I put my book up on Scout and for 30 days, people (who know about Scout… small pool) read a sample selection of it (just like Look Inside) and vote on it. Nominate it, as it were. After 45 days, if Amazon doesn’t take me up on my de facto offer to let them publish the ebook edition of Portal Jumpers, nothing has changed for me. I move forward with publishing it on my own. If the manuscript catches their attention – for whatever reason – they can pick up my contract and publish the ebook. Yay for me. What draws their attention? No one knows. It isn’t votes alone, because popular books have failed to get the nod, while those that have not been so favored by the crowd have gotten published. Someone told me that the committee does what the committee likes. And that kind of suits me. Good for them. Certainly, though, I believe a book that gets a lot of action is going to have a higher likelihood of getting attention from inside the room where they make their Scout selections. (So if you want a free book, I’d be delighted to have the nomination.)
From a reader perspective, you get to be involved in the process. Which is kind of cool. Nothing is binding Amazon’s hands to pick books by who can stage the most effective campaign, else click farms would rush in and ruin it. (First world problems, what?) But genuine readers who care about the outcome can go cast a vote and, if the book is selected to get published by Amazon, they’ll get a free copy of the end result. I think that’s neat.
The process is easy. You go on the Kindle Scout site and look for books you might be interested in, or you follow a link directly to a campaign page for an individual book (I’ll be posting mine tomorrow) and you nominate it. Click a button. Done. You have to be logged into your Amazon account to do it, but there’s no more work in it than that. In 30 days, the campaign ends and by 45 days, you’ll get a thank you note from me (or your other favored author) and a notice from Amazon for whether the book was selected.
I chose Portal Jumpers because the resulting ebook is going to be exclusive to Amazon, and because it must be a previously unpublished book. I didn’t want to have a single book from HDM or Sam & Sam get stuck in exclusivity territory by itself, which would effectively tie down the entire universes without the correlating benefits, and I also don’t think that the promo power of Amazon is going to be as powerful on a third or fifth book as it would be for a first book. Portal Jumpers was the next one up on the production slate, so I pulled it forward and got it wrapped up snug and ready for publishing. It may be longer than Amazon is interested in publishing (at 600+ pages, both it and its sequel tip the scales pretty hard), but it’s the story that I wanted to tell, and doing my final proofs, I was thrilled to be sending it out. Either way, it should be ready for sale soon.
If Portal Jumpers isn’t a Scout selection, I’ll probably do it again with a more proper stand-alone of a more manageable length, Wizards, perhaps, or Sarah Todd. Though I’m not convinced Sarah Todd stays a standalone. I’m itchy to head back to Lawrence; there’s more story living there.
So that’s going to be my July. Plus I’m NaNo-ing again this month. Starting Jamie Bond, a story I’ve been chewing on for about ten years now. I’ve grown up a lot since the first couple of stabs I made at it; now is the time. Happy summer!
What I’m reading: Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett (going to finish it this time!)
What I’m watching: Psych. And Kongos videos.