Update: On april 2, 2018, Amazon announced that it was no longer accepting new submissions to Kindle Scout, effectively shutting down the platform.
Usually, when you think “Amazon” and “Publishing” in the same sentence, you think of self-publishing through their KDP programs. However, Amazon runs a variety of publishing imprints as well, and one of the ways that they source books to publish under these imprints is through The Kindle Scout program. Kindle Scout, launched in 2015, is a place where readers nominate books that they enjoy, giving the author a chance at an Amazon publishing contract.
Kindle Scout for Readers
For readers, using Kindle Scout is easy: all you need is an Amazon account. Readers browse https://kindlescout.amazon.com/ and preview all the ready-to-publish books. If they see a book that they would like to read, then they nominate it for a publishing deal. Each book is available for nomination for a 30-day period, and the most popular books are selected for review by the Amazon team. If a book that you nominated as a reader is picked for a publishing contract, then you get a free copy once it’s published.
The Kindle Scout Program has given control to the readers with its voting system, lending them a voice that helps the Kindle Press editors make the final decision concerning whether a book should join the Kindle Press family.
Kindle Scout for Authors
For authors, Kindle Scout offers a middle ground between traditional publishing and self-publishing. To qualify for submission, your novel must never have been published, be 50,000 words or longer, have a professional cover, be well edited, and have a captivating description. Your novel can be a standalone or part of a series, but if it’s in a series, all books within the series must comply with the rules and regulations expressed within the Kindle Scout Program.
Kindle Scout Genres
Right now, genre choices are limited, but more get added to the list each year. The genres Kindle Scout currently publishes are:
- Mystery & Thriller
- Sci-fi & Fantasy
- Teen & Young Adult
- General Literature and Fiction (subcategories found under this category are: action and adventure, contemporary, and historical fiction)
Kindle Scout Exclusivity
If you upload a book to the Kindle Scout program, it must be exclusive to the program for 45 days following the date of submission. For the first 30 of those 45 days, your book is put in front of readers so that they can vote for it. While you can’t send out queries to other publishers during this time, Amazon does allow you to post excerpts on social media and blogs to gain votes.
Kindle Scout Eligibility
As long as your book adheres to the guidelines, anyone can submit a book to Kindle Scout, whether you’re a new author or already established. However, since the author is responsible for driving readers to vote for their books, well-established authors tend to do better. To get enough votes to be considered for a contract, having an established newsletter mailing list, a presence on social media, and some understanding of marketing are huge resources. New authors have a chance, but with a system that favors books that stay in the Hot & Trending categories with plenty of votes, the Kindle Scout program can be biased toward authors with a following. You can check out this K-Boards thread for strategies on how to run a successful Kindle Scout campaign.
Kindle Scout Contract Terms
Being chosen for this coveted contract is an amazing opportunity, but the $1500 comes with strings attached. The advance goes against your royalties until that money is recouped. Under a Kindle Scout contract, Amazon offers authors 50% royalty which is part of what makes this route a middle ground between self-publishing and traditional publishing. If you self-published through the KDP dashboard, you could be getting 70% royalty on books priced at $2.99 and more. Comparatively, traditional publishing contracts typically award 8-15% royalties. The payout period for Kindle Scout books is the same as if you’re self-published – 60 days after the end of the month.
By reading Kindle Scout’s readily available contract, you can see how they handle rights management. Amazon never takes print rights for the books published through Kindle Scout. If within two years you have not earned $500, or if you earn less than $25,000 in five years, you may formally request rights reversion, but it isn’t automatic. For the contract’s five years, your book must be exclusive to Amazon.
The biggest perk of publishing through Amazon is that their team will help you market your title. Amazon wants a positive return on their investment and, considering that 82% of all e-books are bought through Amazon, they have inside knowledge on how readers buy eBooks, as well as access to tools that will help your book get in front of the right readers. They can market books through their display ads, newsletters, reviewer access, recommendation algorithms, and more.
Publishing through Kindle Scout is a new and different publishing experience. It puts a portion of the decision in the hands of the readers, instead of solely on the head of an acquiring editor. If you have a book that is packaged and ready to publish and you’re interested in joining the ranks of Amazon published authors, Kindle Scout may be a good option for you.