Kindle Unlimited Swap Meet

This month me and my fellow Kindle Press authors have organized a Kindle Unlimited Swap Meet. Over twenty authors, over twenty books, all free to read through the Kindle Unlimited program. If you’re not a Kindle Unlimited member, you can sign up for a month-long free trial and read as many books as you want. Even if you don’t want to give KU a go, many of the books in the Swap Meet are discounted this month.

Both Bridge Daughter and Edward Teller Dreams of Barbecuing People are represented in the Swap Meet. I’d also like to point out a couple of other books you might be interested in:

Making Arrangements by Ferris RobinsonAuthor Ferris Robinson and I went through the Kindle Scout program together and were accepted by Kindle Press at about the same time, so I feel a sense of camaraderie with her. Her book Making Arrangements is a wonderful slice-of-life novel filled with memorable characters and unexpected discoveries. I highly recommend it.

Son of Justice by Steven L. HawkAnother Swap Meet book to look out for is Steven L. Hawk’s Son of Justice, a rousing science fiction military adventure about family lines and choosing between the easy road and one less traveled. Hawk is the author of The Peace Warrior trilogy which has received high acclaim as well.

The above books are free to read through Kindle Unlimited, and there’s plenty of deals to be had as well, so check out all the books in the Swap Meet. Some are up to 70% off, and the novels range from fantasy to mystery to contemporary literature.

And be sure to enter the Swap Meet’s $100 Amazon gift card giveaway! You win by helping to spread the word about these great Kindle Unlimited books.

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An Insider’s Guide to Kindle Scout

Kindle ScoutKindle Scout winner R. J. Vickers has posted an incredibly thorough insider’s guide to Kindle Scout over at BookRazor. If you have any interest in Kindle Scout (and if you’re a fiction writer, you should), check out her savvy break-down of the program: its benefits and drawbacks, it short-term challenges and long-term gains.

Bridge Daughter now available as Kindle ebook and paperback

Bridge Daughter by Jim NelsonKindle Scout Winner Bridge Daughter is now available from Kindle Press!

Early reviews for Bridge Daughter are already coming in:

“Hauntingly beautiful…a disturbing view of an alternate America where children bear their parents’ children for them.” – K. McCutchen, 4-star Amazon review

I was invested in this story from the first page to the last.” – , 5-star Amazon review

I read it with tears rolling down my face.The story will stick with you long after you’ve read the last page.” – RPurvis, 5-star Amazon review

“…makes you think about love, children, and morality. How do you give birth to and raise a daughter until she is 14, only for her to give birth to your ‘real’ child and then die?” – Leah Labbe, 4-star Goodreads review

Remember, if you nominated Bridge Daughter on Kindle Scout, you should have received an email from Amazon with information on how you can obtain your free early copy.

Click here to order your copy of Bridge Daughter

Status

Kindle Press to publish Bridge Daughter

Bridge Daughter by Jim NelsonAn hour ago I learned Kindle Press has accepted Bridge Daughter for publication!

The news is still soaking in. I don’t have much else to say at the moment. I should have more details soon.

What a great Monday.

I don’t have a publication date yet, but you can still download and read the first chapters of Bridge Daughter at its Kindle Scout page.

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Bridge Daughter on Kindle Scout: Week Four

Bridge Daughter by Jim NelsonThe lights went dim on the Bridge Daughter campaign Friday night around 9pm Pacific time (midnight on the East Coast). Did it end with a bang or a whimper? I would say it ended…on an up-note.

As I wrote last time, campaign activity dropped off after Week Two. What I didn’t realize when I wrote that post is how long the trough would sustain. Bridge Daughter had enjoyed a perch on the Kindle Scout Hot & Trending list for nearly two complete weeks, then fell off entirely, save for a few days when it resurfaced for a couple of hours. After reading other messages on the kboards Writers’ Cafe, I discovered I wasn’t alone—it appears Week Three of the campaign is a quiet stretch for more than a few nominees.

Fortunately, Bridge Daughter rebounded in Week Four and ended with a strong finish: four straight days on the Hot & Trending charts for 24 hours each day. It looks like the interest rekindles (no pun) when a book lands on the “Ending Soon” list, which gives it some prominence on the Kindle Scout home page. It also adds a little urgency to the readers, letting them know that if they want to see a book published, they need to vote now, and not put it off.

I’m out of energy to write more about Kindle Scout at the moment. It was fortunate the campaign concluded Friday evening. It’s nice to have a weekend to myself. I realized toward the end of Week Three that not a day had passed since the campaign started that I wasn’t fretting over it: writing emails, arranging advertising, social media, working on my blog…it adds up.

Now I wait for Amazon to evaluate the campaign results and my manuscript and return to me with a yea or a nay.

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 Two

Bridge Daughter by Jim NelsonTen days ago I submitted Bridge Daughter to Amazon’s Kindle Scout program. Every day I wake up checking on its progress, excited—and a bit amazed—how it’s been sustaining on the Hot & Trending charts. That’s due to everyone who has shown so much faith in the book and nominated it for publication. Thank you.

The question of whether Amazon will elect to publish it is still up in the air, of course. Although Amazon’s Kindle Scout program is not without its detractors, one thing that has struck me is how this is the most public publication process I’ve ever experienced. I’ve told people that this is an experiment for me, and that’s partially what I was alluding too.

When I’ve submitted fiction for publication in the past—to an editor or an agent or an editorial committee—their decision-making process (if they even read the manuscript at all) was kept private. Magazine editors often have heated discussions about what to print, but their opinions and leanings are rarely shared with the author (many of whom would love to hear the critiques, no matter how scathing). When a work of mine was accepted by a magazine, I often was not even told why the editors liked it. And why would I ask? I’m just happy they printed it.

Submission & evaluation

Kindle ScoutKindle Scout flips this process on its head, allowing readers some say before the story’s published. Although there’s a submission process to Kindle Scout, I don’t believe it’s the kind of vetting that happens at a magazine. I submitted Bridge Daughter to Amazon on a Sunday; they accepted it Tuesday; the campaign went live Thursday. That’s warp factor nine compared to traditional publication venues, where three to twelve month turnaround times are the norm.

I once received a rejection letter from a magazine three years after submission. One novella contest I entered took so long to respond, they asked all entrants to mail in new checks because the old uncashed checks had expired. And it has to be mentioned the numerous agents I’ve queried who simply never responded at all. I appreciate that agents and magazines are overworked and understaffed—I’ve been a front line reader for lit mags, I’ve been there too—but I use these extreme examples to describe something close to the norm. (One notable exception was Howard Junker at Zyzzyva who would return rejections ten days later, like clockwork, with his “Onward!” scrawled along the bottom of the slip.)

Because Kindle Scout’s submission process requires sending the entire manuscript (not just the first few chapters), I doubt Amazon read the entire book before accepting it. They might have; it’s not unheard of. But if you submit your work to Kindle Scout, I suspect they simply want to make sure you have a book of some kind ready: 50,000 words or more, legible manuscript format, Microsoft Word document, and so on.

So Amazon’s two- to four-day turnaround has its editorial limits, but I’ll still take that over waiting a year to hear back about a novel I sweated over for just as long (or longer).

The world of traditional publication still runs at nineteenth-century speeds. Email and Submittable have changed the time dynamics some, but a lot of the old ways remain firmly in place.

I’m honestly not claiming Amazon is better than other publishers, or that Kindle Scout’s nomination process is a model every publisher should adopt. What piques me is that Amazon has developed a new approach to the publishing model, a model that’s gone pretty much unquestioned for, what, a century or more now? As I said, this is an experiment, one that I’m willing to try, curious to see play out, and optimistic for success.