Bridge Daughter on Kindle Scout: Week Three

Bridge Daughter by Jim NelsonNow entering the home stretch, Bridge Daughter‘s campaign on Kindle Scout has five days left before the nomination process ends.

Week Three had a noticeable drop in energy over the prior two weeks. Out of the gate, Bridge Daughter was in the Hot & Trending list for over 20 hours a day for twelve days straight. That was a huge rush to see and, of course, invigorated my optimism.

That didn’t sustain, unfortunately, but I’m not certain that’s a liability for my chances of Bridge Daughter being accepted by Amazon. I’ve been following the Amazon Kindle Scout message list on kboards.com’s Writers’ Cafe (which I encourage all Kindle authors to join and follow) as well as reading blog posts from authors who’ve been published—and not published—via Kindle Scout. I don’t have any pearls of wisdom for guaranteed success with Kindle Scout, but I feel more positive than ever that it’s a mistake to view the program as a popularity contest.

What’s the magic formula?

Looking through the backlog of messages on kboards.com, one recurring question is What’s the magic formula for getting published on Kindle Scout? I don’t have an answer, but I’ve learned quite a bit over the past month. (And remember: I’m still in the middle of my first Kindle Scout campaign. Five days from now I might be changing my tune.)

Most of my information is second-hand, although a fair amount came from the authors themselves. (Martin Crosbie’s series on his Kindle Scout experience is a good read for anyone considering publishing this way.) It seems the following is true:

  • Some writers with books in the Hot & Trending list for 30 days straight were not selected.
  • Some writers who performed so-so in Hot & Trending were selected.
  • Writers who published multiple books through Kindle Scout in the past have been rejected even though their latest campaign performed reasonably well.

As I said in my first week’s post, I believe there’s a reason Amazon calls it “nominating” a book instead of “voting” for a book. It’s not a purely democratic process, where X nominations push a book across the finish line and Amazon will then (mechanically) start the publishing process.

I believe there to be a human component here, one or more Amazon editors who have some say over the approval process. How active they are in the editorial process after approval, I’m unsure. I’ve read blogs where authors were getting great edits before publication, and others where the book pretty much went to press as-is. We’re not even sure what algorithm Amazon uses to determine if a book is “Hot” at any moment in time (although it seems to be a combination of nominations and page views, i.e. clicks).

Part of me wonders if the Hot & Trending process is simply a baseline rather than the finish line—a way for Amazon to feel confident there’s sufficient interest in the book before using valuable editor time to read through it. Hot & Trending is also a gauge of how well the writer can spread the word and generate excitement (via social networks and the blogosphere), now considered by publishers a crucial part of author publicity, Amazon or otherwise.

I wish I could say Kindle Scout is a pure meritocracy, where great writing gets a publishing contract regardless of external factors. Then again, I wish I could say that about the traditional publishing world as well. I do feel I’ve received a tremendous positive reaction to Bridge Daughter thanks to Kindle Scout’s process, and that’s more valuable than I can describe.

Five days remaining to nominate Bridge Daughter for publication!

Bridge Daughter on Kindle Scout: Week One

Bridge Daughter by Jim NelsonAlthough the Bridge Daughter campaign officially started four days ago, it already feels like a week’s passed.

It’s been a hectic long weekend for me, posting on social media, emailing everyone I know, making phone calls…getting the word out on Bridge Daughter to everyone I know, and even a few complete strangers.

If you haven’t heard, Amazon’s Kindle Scout program is an interesting hybrid in the world of book publishing. Independent authors submit their completed manuscript to Amazon, along with a cover, book jacket blurb, and a tag line (“A young girl must bear her mother’s child”). If the package passes muster, Amazon posts it on the Kindle Scout site for 30 days.

At that point, readers have an opportunity to learn more about the book as well as read its opening chapters. If they like what they see, they can vote for it by pressing a “Nominate me” button.

After 30 days, if the stars are aligned, Jupiter rises in the house of Venus, and the book has received enough attention from readers, Amazon will publish it. They’ll also promote it across their web site. That’s what I’m hoping will happen. Fingers crossed!

So far, the response has been quite positive. People I’ve reached out to are excited I have a new novel ready for release. (Thanks for the kind words!) They’re also curious how this Kindle Scout program works. That’s something I’ll discuss in future blog posts throughout the month.

Hot & Trending

Kindle ScoutThe big news for me is that Bridge Daughter has been on Kindle Scout’s “Hot & Trending” radar screen for almost the full day on Friday (21 out of 24 hours). Unfortunately, that’s the last information I have, as the statistics page doesn’t appear to update over the weekend. I’m hoping to receive more information tomorrow morning.

But what does that mean, Hot & Trending? (On the Kindle Scout site, it’s simply indicated with a gold Hot emblem on the book description.) While Amazon is precise in what they expect from authors’ submissions to Kindle Scout, their decision-making process for publication is more opaque, as well as what constitutes “hot.”

From my research on other author’s blogs (Scout has been running for about a year now), it sounds like Amazon’s decisions are not entirely based on nominations, but that they are merely one factor among many. I suspect Hot & Trending is an internal metric they’ve devised to measure how much oomph the book has based on nominations and page views (and perhaps other criteria, like link count, or where the traffic originates from). My guess is Amazon wants to know if the book has legs, and Hot & Trending is the secret sauce to measure that.

This is why Amazon calls it nominating a book and not voting for a book. It’s not a purely democratic process. As someone who’s sat in an editorial chair for a couple of small magazines, I can understand that.

As I said, I’m still learning the insides of Kindle Scout, so I’ll report back when I know more. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll visit Bridge Daughter‘s page on Kindle Scout, and if it sounds like something you’d like to read, nominate it!