Kindle Scout, Amazon’s “Reader-Powered” Publishing Program, Launches

In a letter today to authors, Amazon named and officially rolled out “Kindle Scout,” the “reader-powered” publishing program that was rumored in the past few weeks to be in the works.

Kindle Scout is one of two (unrelated) initiatives at Amazon that experiment with crowdsourcing in order to select content for publication.

Related: More Crowdsourcing to Come

The first, Kindle WriteOn, went live quietly in April and has yet to be fully rolled out. WriteOn functions as a community for authors and readers to share feedback on works in progress. Readers have thirty days to nominate content they wish to see published, and the most popular nominees are picked up by KDP editors for publication.

Kindle Scout is similarly driven by readers’ feedback and results in book contracts for chosen authors. Amazon’s letter to authors today laid out the terms:

Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions, and featured Amazon marketing. We will be inviting readers to join and nominate books in a couple of weeks. Submit your book today at http://kindlescout.amazon.com.

The Kindle Scout homepage currently features a call-out for “English-language books in Romance, Mystery & Thriller and Science Fiction & Fantasy genres.”

5 thoughts on “Kindle Scout, Amazon’s “Reader-Powered” Publishing Program, Launches

  1. Ebook Bargains UK

    Let’s be clear that this 50% royalty is from net. so actually a less than 35% royalty from list price, or half what an author will get going it alone with KDP.

    The $1,500 advance is pretty feeble to start with, and requires the author to supply the completed, edited, proofed and formatted file and cover, all at the author’s own cost.

    The promise of \featured Amazon marketing\ means sweet FA on its own. Just a lure to unwary indies thinking they’ll get the same red carpet treatment the Amazon imprints get. Which begs the question why,if Amazon is seriously interested in these titles and will push them properly, they are being kept quite separate from the Amazon imprints.

    Many authors who have signed up to Amazon’s secretive White Glove programme (agented-only titles exclusive with Amazon for a year with the promise of all manner of promotion which mostly never materialises) know that being eligible for something and actually getting it are two different planets.

    Amazon know as well as anyone that indies looking to game the system will get all their e-friends to vote up their books, so safe to say the crowdsourcing element is just for show. What Amazon will do is pick titles that look promising, or from indies with a track record – especially on other retailers – and pay out $1,500 to ensure these titles are exclusive with Amazon and not on other retailers for the next five years.

    If the books sell well Amazon makes a fortune while paying the author half of what they would have got on their own, while also depriving the author of sales from other retailers.

    Selling at $4.99 Amazon will need to sell just 462 copies to make back the advance it paid out. The author will have to sell 1,200 to pay back the advance before they see another cent.

    The report also neglects to mention the rights grab whereby Amazon promise to sit on your audio and translation rights for half a decade.

    Reply
  2. Michael W. Perryc

    Ebook Bargains has describe the flaws in Kindle Scout so well, there’s little left for me to say. He did however point out a point I’d failed to notice. Authors end up paying back that $1500 advance with their first income. Even if modestly successful, authors may find themselves waiting a year or more after publication before they earn a penny. Those will be hungry days.

    I would stress strongly what that now-public 50% of net royalty means beyond the fact that it may end up a mere 35% of retail. Authors are giving up a lot to get that amount. I suspect this contract means what Amazon is not saying, that authors are giving Amazon exclusive ebook distribution rights. The previous poster says it also means that Amazon can \sit on your audio and translation rights.\ Tough luck if that novel takes off and a worldwide demand develops.

    One important remark should be made here. Talk to a lawyer and you’ll discover that a contract signed is an obligation you can’t easily escape. Whining to a judge that ‘this isn’t fair’ or ‘other retailers would treat me better’ will get you nowhere. If you don’t like Amazon terms, don’t sign.

    Never, never, never forget this. If giving up a lot means that Amazon will pay 50% of net and perhaps 35% of retail, then that means Amazon intends to pay even less to those dare to release their ebooks with less restrictions and through other retailers.

    I won’t even hazard a guess what that might be. I’ll just stress that it’s may be less than the 25% publisher currently pay authors for ebooks and those publishers will be doing a heck of a lot more than Amazon to prepare your book for release and to promote it. Amazon wants all the advantages of being a publisher without any of the hassles or costs.

    Contrast that to Apple’s iBookstore, which pays a flat 70% at all retail prices, sets no conditions on what you do elsewhere, and charges no download fee.

    Finally, keep in mind that Amazon can only do so much ebook promotion through email and placement on web pages. The hefty ‘pay to play’ payments that Amazon is trying to wring out of major publishers, that secretive \White Glove’ program, and any remaining dribbles of visibility that Amazon gives to Kindle Scout participants all come at the expense of ordinary Kindle Direct authors. What they get, other authors lose.

    And if Amazon’s past behavior is any indication, that could mean that those who search for an author’s title by its exact name won’t see it in the search results. It’s concealed to better direct attention to ebooks further up Amazon’s food chain. I’ve seen that happen with numerous Amazon products, including books. When I lived in Seattle, one Amazon software developer told me, \never trust Amazon search results.\

    And yes, I fully realize that there are a host of fanboy authors for which Amazon can do no wrong. Nothing Ebook Bargains said and nothing I say will make a difference with those true believers. Baring a major catastrophe, they’re hopelessly lost.

    But there are authors with enough sense to wake up and spot where the ebook market is trending. One of the smartest moves an author with an established reader base can do is steer as many of their readers as possible to either Smashwords (80% royalties less fees) or the iBookstore (70% with no fees). They might even encourage that my waiting several weeks before releasing a Kindle edition.

    Engrain that habit in readers and an author can already reap some added income. Within a few years, when Amazon hopes its market share will grow to the point where it can impose those 50% and less royalties on authors, having readers who know to buy from the iBookstore or Smashwords, could easily mean double an author’s income. Prepare now for the future.

    Of course, the missing ingredient is that, at present, ebooks from the iBookstore can only be read on Apple devices and ebooks from Smashwords require a bit of tech savvy to put into an ereader. But hopefully both of those will change.

    Reply
  3. LAUREL

    I came across your article and my book is on Kindle Scout now. This is my first attempt at writing a book and I don’t know what I am doing so Kindle Scout is a good starting place for me. It doesn’t cost to post the book for nomination. I like that it doesn’t cost and the set up–except for the cover is done by Kindle Scout. The instructions were easy to follow even for a first timer. If you follow this link you can read the first 3 chapters of my book. If you like it, please nominate it for publishing. Thank you!
    https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/32F6KKUKHNJ53

    Reply
  4. Barbara A Scales

    Two Feathers is my first novel and Kindle Scout appears to suite my needs to launch my fiction career. Please go to the web page https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1C71SG3PEJSMM
    and enjoy the romance/mystery of a nurse with”gifts” that are causing havoc personally and professionally. According to my family folklore my materanl great-grandfather and maternal aunt had “gifts” which the character Tess is based upon, as well as some of the otherworldly experiences I have witnessed as a nurse.
    Wilipamkanni (Travel Well)
    Barbara A Scales

    Reply
  5. Wendell

    I just wan to know if there is a nomination threshold to this whole thing? How many nominations does an author have to have to get past the first round? I have a title on KS now, but since it is in the Literature/Fiction category, it will likely be passed over; which I think is a good thing.

    Reply

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