My Kindle Scout Campaign: It’s a no

My Kindle Scout Campaign: It’s a no

My campaign ended and my book was not selected. This is a breakdown of what I did and noticed along the way. You can see the graph of my books campaign performance below.

Timeline

Day 1

The day of my campaign I posted on Facebook and sent an email to an email list of people I know personally (church). My post included a personal request, an indication that nominating the book would take less than 30 seconds (if you skipped reading the excerpt) and two links. The first link was to my Kindle Scout page, the second was to a youtube video that showed people exactly how to do it.

Day 16

Since my book had dropped off entirely, I decided I needed to boost it a little. This time, I posted another shorter request on facebook and I sent a personal message to individuals I thought would be willing to help me out, but who I didn’t regularly interact with or see interaction from on Facebook. I also posted about the campaign on the Nextdoor app for my local community, hoping some people would be nice enough to help out. I also had my wife post about the campaign on her Facebook account.

Day 27

My book had fallen off the Hot and Trending list again and I’d been distracted by other things. I also didn’t have many more people I’d be able to reach out to. Essentially, I was running out of people to ask and had started to feel like I was harassing people even though I’d tried hard not to… I also asked my wife to start reaching out to her friends and asking them to nominate it. Finally, I posted one more Facebook message, but this time I made a nice little image that showed some of the stats from the Kindle Scout analytics page and added a call to action (common marketing practices).


Observations

  • There are a few things that I think make a significant difference. First, most of the sections on the Kindle Scout page (except hot and trending and ending soon) show the most recently added book first.
  • Hot and trending fluctuates wildly and appears to update every hour. It also doesn’t appear to take many nominations/views or whatever else Amazon uses to get on to this list, at least not when my book was active.
  • Ending Soon starts showing your book when it says you have two days left. The ordering in this section seems to be trying to give all the books that are ending soon a bit of time on the first page of results. I say this because a book that was rarely “HOT” showed up on the first page multiple times.

What I don’t like about Kindle Scout

Transparency. Essentially, you’re told to get people to nominate your book. As far as I can tell, that means “visit the page and click the button.” While I had numerous people tell me they liked the excerpt, there’s really no motivation to encourage people to actually do so. I would HOPE that Amazon is tracking the time spent on the page, the scroll speed, and if they scrolled to the end of your campaign page with the excerpt expanded. Additionally, the number of views is a great indicator of interest (at least in the cover). These data points would tell Amazon who is actually reading the content instead of just hitting the button to help a friend. Further, those same data points should be what puts a book on the hot and trending list.

However, having said all of this and being worried that it’s all about how many friends you have… unless you have a massive number of friends, it looks like most of the viewers of my project are from the Kindle Scout site. In my case, 8% of people (about 550) who viewed my project appear to be people who had some connection to me. That means there are 6,550 other people who I don’t know who viewed my campaign. Not too shabby for a new author.



The last thing I really dislike about Kindle Scout is the rejection letter. It consists of nothing except a “no.” While it would have been immensely helpful to have a single paragraph that described the decision, that wasn’t provided. However, they did tell me that they’ll let all my supporters know that I wasn’t selected… I’m not exactly sure how that will work. I can also tell my supporters if I publish on KDP, hopefully, that’s when the message is sent and it’s not just “Sorry, that guy whose book you nominated wasn’t select, but here’s his thank you note.”

UPDATE: So, they actually do send an email that says “the book you nominated wasn’t selected, but go nominate other things.” ALSO, and much to my great delight, they sent an editorial letter which I’ll go over in my next post.

Suggestions

I like to believe authors are smart people and I think providing the following information would help them make better choices in the future.
  • Personally, as an author, I’d love to see metrics on all the things Amazon asks about when you nominate a book. Did people like my cover/one-liner/description/excerpt? I’d love to know what the split was.
  • I’d also love to know what the conversion rate is. Of the 7,100 people who viewed, how many nominated? Though that number would be skewed by the max 3 nominations limitation, it would still be great to know.
  • Where does my book rank, across all these metrics, compared to all other currently active books, books in my categories etc?
  • I’d love to give readers a bigger incentive to really dig into a book and provide good feedback, both for the author and so Amazon can make good decisions. Right now, if a reader picks a winner, they get the book. I would happily flip 30% of the potential advance to readers if they would do this. That would mean taking $500 and telling readers “if this book is a winner you’re one of the first 50 to nominate it, you get $10.” That way they have a real incentive and a way to make a little money. Just a thought.

Conclusion

In the end, I can’t see Amazon taking the readers/friends opinions very seriously and when I look at the Scout leaderboard, those people have a fairly low selection rate. I think it’s a great idea, but it needs improvement for both readers and writers.  I think my book is amazing, but everyone probably thinks the same thing. If Amazon doesn’t take it, it’ll be for sale the day after they let me know.

2 Replies to “My Kindle Scout Campaign: It’s a no”

  1. Dear J.M. Grant—

    I’m sorry that Kindle Scout didn’t select GENESIS. I voted for it. Tess is a compelling protagonist; I was rooting for her.

    You wrote in your blog about various possible factors that Kindle Scout might take into account. I’ve read that they definitely discount the votes of those who don’t click the “show full excerpt” button as Friends & Family.” That’s why it’s important to ask people to LOOK at the excerpt, and IF they like it, then nominate the book.

    Also, a book must make it into Hot & Trending at least once to be seriously considered. How MANY hours is not that important. Kindle Scout is currently offering personalized critiques of books that make it onto their shortlist, from November through February, so it might be worth your while to ask about that. They might be backlogged due to NaNoWriMo entries. If they tell you anything, would you let me know what they say?

    When you say that people on the Scout Leader Board have a fairly low selection rate, you forget that since Kindle Scout accepts almost none of the books, their rate is actually a magnitude higher than Kindle Scout’s OWN selection rate. Also, I think their numbers are screwy. I won 51 books in 2017, but supposedly my “Scout Publishing Power” is 9%, while the “Average Scout Publishing Power” is supposedly 20%. Ha.

    Will you be publishing GENESIS independently? You can make the Kindle Scout system work for you even though they didn’t have the good taste to pick GENESIS. Just arrange a free period (say five days), then, once it’s live (Check first, since there are sometimes glitches—), tell KS that it’s available. KS will inform the voters (although some authors have reported delays of up to several days—), who will hopefully click on the link, see it’s free, and grab it.

    Not only is this a nice way to thank the voters for doing what they could to get GENESIS chosen (It isn’t their fault that KS has dubious taste—), but it also gets “verified purchase” ARCs into the hands of those most likely to rate GENESIS highly.

    If you give me a heads-up, I’ll be happy to tweet about the free period to my Twitter-followers, in case they overlook the KS email.

    What are you working on next? Will it be on Kindle Scout soon?

    1. Andrea, thanks for sharing your insights and I appreciate the suggestion to coordinate the free period with the notification to Scouts! As for what I’m working on next, book 2 in the Genesis series. I’ve written about 18,000 words so far. You have me a little worried about having you read my book since I hired a content editor and not a copy editor… 🙂 I did try to have a lot of grammar focused people read it, but I’ve not worked with a copyeditor before. Thanks again for your kind words!