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.

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!

Bridge Daughter now up at Kindle Scout

Bridge Daughter by Jim NelsonI’m happy to announce that my new novel Bridge Daughter is ready for the world!

I’ve submitted Bridge Daughter to Amazon’s Kindle Scout program, which allows readers to vote on books written by independent authors (like me).

If my book receives enough nominations over the next 30 days, Amazon will publish and promote it across their web site.

What’s more, if you vote for Bridge Daughter and it’s published, you’ll receive a free copy! It costs nothing to vote. It’s so simple, it’s simple.

Here’s how you can help:

  • First, go to Bridge Daughter‘s page at Amazon’s Kindle Scout site.
  • There you can learn more about the novel, read an excerpt, view the cover, and more.
  • If you like what you see, click the blue Nominate me button.

That’s it!

The nomination period will be over before you know it, so please vote now. Thanks!