~ By Victoria Pinder
Every author has their own decisions to make in their career. I know in April I had to make some tough ones. I had a book that was more than ready to go. I had a decision to make. Let everything linger still or move forward. I was ready to move forward. For the book, I had requests for the book. I could have sent it in myself to quite a few of the houses with that special ‘requested material’ tag. What attracted me to Kindle Scout was an advance and the idea of Amazon marketing for my book.
Amazon has a vested interest in at the very least making the money back they gave the author. I figured that boost at the beginning was worth it for me. Winter Peril is not the only book I ever wrote. To make this decision I read Victoria Strauss Pros and Cons and the contract carefully.
My gut reminded me that Victoria Strauss’s article was for all authors and written by someone who hadn’t been involved. She was trying to be fair, and I respect that. My gut told me to go for this, and I decided I’d see for myself.
In my mind, I told myself, if Kindle Scout is a successful venture for Amazon then I figured I needed to be in on this early. If I waited and it was a good opportunity, it will be impossibly hard later. With this thought, I decided to see for myself. Also one book doesn’t define me. I can write others.
I submitted the book and two days later, I was now live in the 30 day voting period.
The point of getting votes and keeping it hot was that it pushes your book higher on the to be read pile. It is not a guarantee that you’ll be selected simply because your book is hot. How do you get to be hot? Voting.
1500 people read my first chapter. In marketing alone, to me that was a high number. I absolutely asked people to vote for me, as you’re supposed to in the 30 days. I was hot everyday. At the end I knew all this mattered was to push the manuscript higher on the pile.
As a member of RWA and in a few online chapters and with my in-person chapter, I waited for every promotional opportunity and then asked for votes. The contemporary chapter’s promo day is Tuesday so I limited my asking until then. I also have a newsletter. The one morning I fell off the hot list, my newsletter people then helped me out more than anything else. I was back on the hot list in the afternoon. (In real life May is always my ‘I’m so busy’ prepping my class for Advanced Placement Exams that I can’t do much else, so honestly I did what I could and never thought about it again.)
My book closed on a Thursday night. That weekend I went to my critique group and honestly, I was like ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’ The not knowing was a killer to my mood. Then Sunday morning I woke up to text messages congratulating me. I rushed to my email and read that I had won. (This means the editors work on weekends.)
Once you win, it becomes way more personable. People with names from the editing and business team email you. At first it was a lot of paperwork, but I was happy to do it.
I was also told a date I’d receive my edits. The Kindle Scout winners all talk to each other, and we’ve all receive edits. Some people received some heavy developmental editing. Truthfully, I didn’t. But my book was pretty clean. I’ve had more than a few eyes on it before I ever submitted it. The team still found quite a few things I needed to do to polish and clean in the manuscript so I still had editing. I can also say more than one set of eyes read my manuscript from the Kindle Scout team. The editor comments were done on different dates with different names. So I was more than happy with the edits.
The 30 day exclusive submission window isn’t like a normal submission window. You don’t sit and wait. It’s now your opportunity to prove how you market yourself. Even if you don’t win, you’ve not told more people through this that your book is ready to go. It’s a marketing opportunity where people get to read your pages and decide if in the future they wish to buy. Anyone who nominates your book gets the book for free, so you’re not asking anyone to buy during the nomination process.
Now Amazon doesn’t take print rights. I can do what I want with those. I know one author who sold her print rights and the book is in Barnes and Noble now. As I don’t have an agent these days, I’m preparing my print edition myself. I’ll time it for the same time as the Kindle Scout book release.
As for marketing, I don’t know yet the details, but I do have a meeting scheduled with the marketing team in July. We might just be saying hello. We might talk specifics. I have no idea. As a previous small press only author though just saying this makes me happy. I never had anyone other than me marketing a book.
Would I submit again? Absolutely. I have a few completed manuscripts ready for RWA and part of me wonders can I do this again or is it time to find another path. I have a sequel that needs work, but it is rough draft done. I have other projects. At RWA Nationals, what’s next for me is my biggest question. Again though, I have to say Kindle Scout has been an amazing experience so far.
Also I have to say for romance authors that there aren’t that many truly romance novels on there. There are romantic novels that claim to be romance, but the competition is much heavier in the mystery suspense categories. Pure romance like what many of us in RWA love to read is pretty slim pickings. My gothic romance won. I never claimed to be anything other than romance. So if you are a romance author, I hope you consider Kindle Scout. I’d love to get more free books for nominating you. (I pretty much stick to the romance book offerings and there is never enough of what many of the people in RWA write.)
Victoria Pinder grew up in Irish Catholic Boston before moving to the Miami sun. She worked in engineering, then decided to follow Elle Woods to law school. Unhappy still, she realized her obvious dream after penning stories all her life. She wanted to be a writer. With her full time job of teaching, she sold six books to three different publishers and in 2015 won Kindle Scout.