I wanted to start my blog with a recap of my recent experience with Kindle Scout. I’m still waiting for the results of my campaign, but I thought I would share what I’ve learned.
I started my novel, The Almshouse, in 2008. I was 18 then and a freshman in college. I didn’t pick up the project again until late 2014, after I found my first job as a summer associate at a law firm. Between the years, I tried my hand at writing a romantic comedy. I learned that I’m not funny.
The Almshouse took 8 months to finish and another two months to edit. After I posted it on WriteOn, a writing community owned by Amazon, I saw that several other authors had entered their books in Kindle Scout. I decided to copy them and submitted The Almshouse to Kindle Scout in mid-October.
The first week was uneventful. None of my friends or colleagues knew I wrote anything except academic papers, so I stuck with spreading the word among writers’ forums. I thought I would bother them when I actually published the story, whether through Scout or direct publishing. (It seemed rude to bother thousands of people twice.)
Because I launched a mystery/thriller campaign in October, I was lucky enough to catch the Halloween campaign promotions. For sixteen days, I hovered in Hot & Trending. Then the first week of November hit, and I found myself out of Hot & Trending. I asked three close friends of mine to help spread the word, and a few days later, I ended up back in the Hot & Trending selection.
Here is a graph showing my numbers.
As you can see, my campaign ended 5 days ago. I haven’t heard anything yet, but I will post again when I do hear. During the campaign, I learned a few things that may help future authors:
- The numbers above were enough to earn me a read, but it doesn’t seem to provide an advantage in getting published. Off the top of my head, three people have had those numbers and or better and have not been selected, and their books were well-written. There were also several good books that were selected without a lot of H&T time. As far as I can tell, as long as you’re floating in H&T for a few days, they’ll look at your book.
- The top banner of H&T is rotating. All 20 books are listed in random order, so you’ll have some hours in the first four and some in the last four.
- The popularity of genres are as follows: Romance, Mystery/Thriller, SciFi, General Fiction
- This is not just a campaign for first time authors; it is a publicity campaign available to everyone. Of the 50 or so selected authors, most of them have already published several books, or were award winning television script writers in a past life. Others either already have a five-figure following, or are current USA Today bestselling authors. As such, while cover, blurb, and first chapters are very important, please do not discount the importance of having a publishing trail, or you might find yourself fighting an uphill battle. I had nothing but a short story published at the time of my Scout campaign, and I’m already regretting it.
- Monday is the most popular day for getting selected. The other days are mixed.
In general, I would recommend aspiring authors to participate in the campaign. I would also caution them to prepare their campaigns ahead of time, and not to launch their campaigns at the same time as groups of bestselling authors. I would also caution against entering without a professionally designed cover, as that is your primary clickbait. As for current bestselling authors, most of this will probably not apply.
My own theory is that the number of Hot & Trending serves only as a comparative factor against other books ending around the same time; it doesn’t actually correlate with the likelihood of selection. Given that 10-16 campaigns end every day, it’s a lot of work to read through that many full manuscripts, or even sample chapters. H&T hours might the gatekeeper that isolates the top 3-4 from each day/week/batch.
In other words, there may not be a difference in consideration between the book with the most H&T hours and the book that came in #4; the remaining process is a free for all among the read books. That would explain why some books with lots of H&T hours don’t get picked, and the ones with a mediocre amount do.
Hope this helps. I’ll post again when I have more information.