My Update as a Kindle Press Author
My book Take the Body and Run, a “goofy thriller” with a crime-solving cat, was selected almost a year ago.
I’ve been happy as a Kindle Press (imprint of Amazon) author, but I probably have the lowest expectations. I don’t want to quit my job, I didn’t write a book to finance my retirement someday, and I don’t want fame or wealth. I’ve heard some self-published authors wish for all of those things. My KP book does much better than my self-published books, which ranged in sales ranking from 500K to >1M. Yeah, that’s M = Million, so I’ve been deliriously happy with KP.
I haven’t set the world on fire with my winning book, but I paid back my advance about two months from the September 2016 publication. The program guidelines (check for updates) say that the selected book may be eligible for promotions every ninety days. I had a December 2016 99 cents promo, the KS anniversary sale promo that all winners had the last part of March 2017, and my book was included in the 150 books for $1.50 promo that ended April 30, 2017.
New Campaign: The Freak Show Below
I started a new campaign that went live on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. The book is mystery/romance, but no crime-solving cat like last year’s winner or a supernatural creature like my paranormal romance/mystery series–which kinda bit me in the butt when a reviewer wrote about Take the Body and Run: “The cat doesn’t talk!”
Here’s the link:
I had to write to the Kindle Scout support staff because KP changed my cover just before the anniversary sale, and the old cover shows up in the backlist (“Other Books by Jada Ryker”) section in the campaign preview. Anyway, I felt cheeky and asked the tech to nominate my campaign :). The answer I got back was that “for some reason, Kindle Scout pulls from the paperback” – what the heck??? They suggested I ask for the rights to the cover for the paperback. After unclenching my jaw, I wrote back that I’d asked KP for the rights after getting the new cover, but I’m still waiting to hear.
I don’t expect to win another contract. While I’m very happy with the winning book’s performance, it can’t compete with other winners who have said they paid back their advance the first week and are earning tons of money. My plan is to use the publicity as a springboard to a successful launch, as so many of the non-selected authors have done. See what I did there? “Non-selected” authors not “Rejected” authors.
What should you do before submitting your book for a Kindle Scout campaign?
* My Blog Posts
Check out my blogposts related to my first Kindle Scout campaign for my goofy thriller, Take the Body and Run. I’m not that prolific in blogging, so they’re very easy to find on the sidebar.
* Join the KBoards Group
Be sure and check out the best KBoards group dedicated to Kindle Scout. Participate with the wonderful group of supportive authors. You can post the link to your campaign to get it on the current scout list of members’ campaigns. Steve Vernon (Kindle Scout winning author of Kelpie Dreams) keep the list current. Here’s the link:
* Read Blogs and Other Sources
Jaxon Reed (The Emphatic Detective) posted on his blog about his KS experience (he’s a two-time winner as of today). He’s the talented author of The Empathetic Detective.
This link takes you to his compilation of other KS experiences:
Several from the KBoards group are mentioned with links to their experiences and information. Here are some of them:
Lincoln Cole (Raven’s Peak): KS stats (H&T and views self-reported by authors selected and not selected), previously published KP books with their months of selection, etc. Be sure and check out his stats! He also wrote a great guide to Kindle Scout, available on Amazon.
Steve Vernon (Kelpie Dreams): Thirty Days of Scout to help you keep your sanity.
Lexi Revellian (Time Rats 1 and 2; she’s a two-time winner): Link to her article about earning her advance.
Jim Nelson (Bridge Daughter): Multi-part series.
Jasmine Silvera (Death’s Dancer): How she chose the KS option.
Cindy Marsch (Rosette: A Novel of Pioneer Michigan): Her post on selfpublishingadvice.org about running a campaign.
My experiences (Take the Body and Run) going into a campaign with neither social media presence nor followers but how I won a contract.
* Tom Swyers’ The Top Secret Diary of a Kindle Scout Prepper
Tom’s thread is an excellent compilation of what he did during winning campaign for The Killdeer Connection.
Strive for the Perfect Submission
I can’t stress enough the importance of a compelling book cover and a professionally edited manuscript.
Editor: Professional editing and proofreading services were provided by Chameleon. She may be reached regarding her professional services at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s not only great at her vocation, but she’s also a wonderful person and successful author in her own right.
Cover Artist: Christina Keats designs the covers of all of my books. She is imaginative, gets the work done before the target date, and she’s an all-around nice person. You can reach her at: email@example.com.
You also need to ensure that your one-liner, blurb, About Me, and any questions you choose to answer are perfect. I’ve seen mistakes in those sections, and it breaks my heart for those authors. It’s hard for me to love a campaign with typos or mistakes in those sections. I think most readers would be leery of nominating a 50,000+ word book when those very short sections have errors or typos. Run those sections by your editor, your betas, your friends, and/or other authors. Don’t submit your campaign with mistakes. You may not be able to get them fixed once the campaign starts.
Once your campaign is approved and before it starts, use the link (it will only work for you until the campaign goes live) to check your campaign for errors. Pay close attention to the excerpt. The formatting should be the same in the document you submitted. If the format is not right, then work with the Kindle Scout team to fix it.
Join Facebook Groups that Allow Promotion
Before your campaign starts, join Facebook groups that allow promotion. Be sure and read their rules before posting your live campaign.
Many authors go into Kindle Scout thinking that selection means instant fame and fortune. It’s important to remember that there’s no guarantee of selection. Kindle Scout has declined to select many great books. How do I know? I’m not only a writer but also a reader. I read as many non-selected books as I can from the Kboards Kindle Scout thread. I’ve read books that wowed me, books that were well written and edited, with excellent stories and characters.
The best advice I can give you is to go into your campaign not expecting to get selected. We don’t know the exact criteria they use for selection. You created your campaign for your professionally edited book, using a great cover, compelling (and free of errors) description, and a great tagline. You took advantage of the About Me and the questions/answers section. You included your social media information, and your backlist.
In Part Three, I explore using the Kindle Scout campaign as a springboard to a successful launch of a non-selected book. Many non-selected books had effective launches using their KS campaign as a springboard, and have remained in the high paid rankings-doing much better than my KS selection.
One aspect of managing your expectations, not only with Kindle Scout but also as an author, is to work a day job. I work full-time over 40 hours per week, along with a long commute. I don’t have the pressure of paying bills through money earned as an author. Most authors, especially those of us who are Indies, don’t earn enough money from writing to keep our households solvent. I spend money on promotions and building my brand. It feels good to have some flexibility due to the earnings from the day job.
Another thing to think about is total compensation. A day job not only gives you money but also benefits. For me, that means paid vacation, holiday, sick; medical insurance with the employer paying a significant portion; a retirement plan with money kicked in by my employer; disability and life insurance; and tuition assistant. I work for a university. I earned my masters degree without paying any money for tuition. I only had to pay for books and fees.
There’s a great question and answer in a previous Slate’s Dear Prudence column. The person who wrote to Prudie has a brother who “has no intention of looking for another job; he wants to be a famous sci-fi author.” Here’s the link:
You’ll need to scroll and find the column heading: “My brother wants me to help him become a famous writer.”
Prudie’s answer includes this gem: “Arthur C. Clarke worked as a pensions auditor, served in the army, and clerked for an indexing service well into the 1950s, even after he had found success selling his short stories; Kurt Vonnegut continued to teach English and write ad copy after the publication of his first novel; Isaac Asimov remained on the faculty at the Boston University School of Medicine even after he started making more money as a writer than as an academic—there’s precedence for finding, and keeping, a day job.”
Temper Expectations with Selection
Selection does not equal instant fame and fortune. Yes, some selected books have done very well. Others have not performed that well, maybe even not as good as some of your self-published titles.
WEEK ONE of Your Kindle Scout Campaign
Change your Amazon Author Profile through Author Central and your GoodReads Author Profile to include a note and your Kindle Scout campaign link.
Here’s the message I used on my Author Profiles:
Special Message from Jada: Hi, friends, may I please request your help? It’s free and easy! The Freak Show Below is active now on Amazon’s Kindle Scout program. I was lucky last year and won a Kindle Press contract with kind support from people like you. I’m taking a second run with my new book. Please consider nominating the never-before-published mystery/romance. It’s the first in the new series—no crime-solving cat this time
If it’s not to your taste, think about nominating other books to help those authors.
After the separator, then I had my regular biography listed.
I did get some views from the Amazon Author Profile. If you’re reading this blog post while my campaign is active (starting May 3 and active for 30 days), then you’ll see the message on my Author page. Here’s the link to my Amazon Author page:
Don’t forget to change your Amazon and GoodReads Author Profiles back to normal once the campaign ends.
Create banners for your Facebook page, website, and twitter.
I worked with my talented cover artist to get my banners created. Here’s an example:
Free Promotions Efforts
Contacting Facebook Friends by Private Message
See my previous posts during my first campaign about the Rule of Fourths (patent pending ;)). Take the number of Facebook friends and divide by 4. That gives you the number of messages you need to send each week of your campaign.
Send personal messages to each of your friends and ask them to nominate you. A personal message means addressing them by name, reminding them of your connection if needed, and asking them to nominate. Don’t use a mass message function to send a generic message. When I get those, I ignore them.
During my first campaign, I posted the format I used. If you decide to use it, please don’t embarrass us both by blindly copying and pasting.
On a daily basis, I tracked the number of message that I sent. The cumulative total percentages are as follows:
At the end of the first week, I’d reached out to 29% of my Facebook friends, putting me ahead of my target for the week.
Posting in Facebook Groups
Hopefully before your campaign started, you had a chance to join Facebook groups that allow promotion. Be sure and read their rules before posting your live campaign. Most don’t allow posting more than once a day. My suggestion is to post only once a week, but it’s your call.
Don’t post an appeal for Kindle Scout nominations until AFTER you make sure that the Facebook group allows promotion. How do you know? You find out by reading the description. Some Facebook groups allow any promotion related to books, which are great for Kindle Scout promotions. If the description says “Kindle Unlimited Only” or “Free or 99 Cents Books Only” or related restrictions, skip them. If the group description says, “No Promo”, then that means “No Promo”. It doesn’t mean that no one can post a promotion except for you. You don’t want to get booted for a failure to follow directions.
I took the total number of Facebook groups to which I belong, and targeted posting in one-fourth of the groups each week. I was closer to on track with the group postings than I was with the Facebook private messages.
If you want to promote more aggressively, you can post in all of your groups once per week. Given my number of groups, it worked out better with my available time to divide the number into fourths.
Some groups allow posting once per day, but I think it wears people out if you post in groups each day.
HeadTalker is free. I didn’t do a HeadTalker campaign during my first time in Kindle Scout. I heard about it during the campaign, and I posted information about it. I decided to try it during the second campaign.
Here’s the link. It ends on May 9, but I think you’ll still be able to view it to see what I did.
Be sure and set a realistic number for the supporters. I saw a HeadTalker by another author. He set the supporters at 500. That meant he’d have to have at least 500 people support his HeadTalker. After discussion on KBoards, he reset the number to 25.
Here’s the link to a Kboards forum that supports HeadTalker campaigns:
You can also post your HeadTalker on the Kindle Scout thread:
I didn’t realize there were Facebook groups for HeadTalker support. J. E. Hunter (Under Jupiper, currently running on Kindle Scout as of now) posted it on Kboards. You could check out those groups, although I have not.
Many Kindle Scout campaigners have announced: “Twitter is dead,” or “Twitter doesn’t work for books.” I’m not an expert. However, I think it doesn’t hurt to use it for your campaign and it might help. I recommend tweeting once per week.
Be sure and research the best hashtags. Here’s the message I used for Twitter and for my HeadTalker:
“Do you love #FREE #Suspense #Romance? Nominate #KindleScout – click link and then click blue NOMINATE ME! https://hdtk.co/rlD9C”
Post on Facebook
Post your campaign on both your author page and your personal page.
I recommend posting once per week. You can post at the beginning of each of the four weeks, and one last post right before your campaign ends. Just my opinion: If you post too often, you wear out your welcome and people get sick of seeing the same appeal over and over.
There are a ton of sites that will gladly take your money. Be smart by checking out other people’s experiences through their blogs and Kboards before spending any of your hard-earned money.
Readper (managed by two-time Kindle Scout winner Jaxon Reed)
A very inexpensive and effective option for paid promotion for your Kindle Scout campaign is Readper. Fellow Kboarder and Kindle Scout veteran (two-time winner) Jaxon Reed started the Readper program.
Once a week in his newsletter for only $5 he supports a Kindle Scout campaign. Best of all, if you sign up for his newsletter you have a chance to win an Amazon gift certificate this month (May 2017).
Here’s the link to a Kboard thread about it:
After my Kindle Scout winner, Take the Body and Run, was published in September 2016, I worked with Readper. I asked Jaxon if Readper could help with my new KS campaign that started this month. And he agreed to do it!
Readper performed beyond my wildest dreams! The day after the promotion ran, I checked my campaign stats. I had the highest number of views for that day since I started the campaign.
It’s been the single most effective promotion AND the cheapest!
It’s definitely worth it to give it a whirl, and Jaxon (like Steve Vernon, Lincoln Cole, and others on Kboards) is a heck of a nice person.
It’s also a nice show of support if you sign up for the newsletter: http://readper.com/authors
The service is inexpensive and other authors have had great results. I did set up a promotion with that one. They also sent me the graphics that they made, which was a nice touch. They continue to promote over the 30-day period for that initial cost. If you get selected, they’ll also give you a bonus promotion.
I also sent them an email, and let them know I’d posted about them on my blog, encouraging other campaigners to use their services. I also asked them to support my HeadTalker campaign. They agreed. Yay!
Use the link to go to their page.
Scroll down to the Kindle Scout option. Here’s what it looks like:
During my first campaign, James Fraser was kind enough to allow me to run a promotion for the campaign as an experiment on GenrePulse. In return, I provided him with my daily statistics so he could see the sharp upward spikes when he ran the promotion.
He developed a service geared toward Kindle Scout Campaigns. Scout Boost $94 for each promotion, and you can’t run it any oftener than once every 7 days. You might get lucky and get a 25% off coupon.
Here’s the link:
Boost Posts on Author Page
You can boost your author page post. On the first week, I tried to boost the post to “people who like my page and their friends” as a targeted post, set to run for seven days. I also tried to boost a post to my targeted demographics (Kentucky and surrounding states; females 35 – 65+; books – mysteries and romances). Be sure and set your demographics by your own specific audience.
My boosted posts didn’t run. I got messages from Facebook Ads that there was too much text. I think it’s a problem with their system, because the last ad I submitted had just a couple lines of text but still is not running as of now. I did ask for a manual review, got approval, but it’s still not running. I did contact the Facebook support page and left a message, with the approval email pasted in the message.
End of Week One Summary of Statistics
I’m not posting my exact numbers. Why? I’m afraid of jinxing my campaign. Superstitious or cautious? You decide. Instead, I’m posting percentages.
* Summary of Top Sources
Kindle Scout gives us the daily list of the top 50 external pages driving traffic to our campaign. These statistics can help you determine which campaign efforts are the most effective.
Here’s a summary of the top sources by percentages. Due to rounding of percentages, it doesn’t add up to 100%.
* Internal to External Traffic
The ratio gives you the cumulative mix of where your campaign page traffic is coming from. Internal is the first percentage, while external is the second percentage.
Beginning of Week One: 55% and 45%
End of Week One: 50% and 50%
That means that at the beginning of my campaign and before I had a chance to implement any promotions or asks for nominations, most of the views came from Kindle Scout. As my efforts kicked in, the most number of views came from outside Kindle Scout by the end of the week.
The numbers also tell me that posting on Facebook and individually asking friends for nominations is working. Facebook was greater than Direct Traffic. As mentioned above, I didn’t run any boosted posts, because I got messages from Facebook Ads that there was too much text. I think it’s a change with their system, because I didn’t have a bit of trouble boosting posts during my campaign last year in 2016. I did ask for a manual review, got approval, but it still didn’t run.
WEEK ONE Review of Action Items
WEEK ONE CHECK IN –
Did you do everything for the first week?
Join KBoards and read past posts; post and/or message Steve Vernon and ask him to add you to the rolling list of campaigns.
Read other campaigners’ (past and present) blog posts to learn from those authors’ experiences.
Commission or do your Facebook, website, and Twitter banners; switch out the banners.
Change your Author Profile through Author Central (Amazon) and GoodReads, including a personal appeal and your link; keep existing bio after a separator (***** or other).
Set up HeadTalker with future date, such as one week and with the minimum number of supporters.
Post on Facebook, once on personal page and once on author page for this first week.
Contact one-fourth of your Facebook (and/or other social media) friends and send a personal appeal via message.
Post in one-fourth of your Facebook groups that allow promotional posts.
Send one tweet via Twitter for this first week.
Set up paid promotion(s) if desired (Readper and Author shout – see above).
Manage your expectations.
If you’ve been using my previous blog posts and this one to help you in your campaign, yay! I want people to benefit from my experiences. To subscribe to my newsletter to get information about my books and other stuff, please click the Subscribe button on the right side panel.
Now, may I ask a favor?
Could you please check out my Kindle Scout winner, Take the Body and Run? Here’s the link to the book. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can get it for free and it sure would help me.
Here’s some more information about the book:
Book One: Take the Body and Run
“TAKE THE BODY AND RUN is a fast-paced ride with a sparkling character and written in a new, original voice. This is a don’t-miss debut.”
-Carolyn Haines, USA Today bestselling author of Pluto’s Snitch and Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries.
~*~ Kindle Scout Winner ~*~
Macey’s first day in the college employee relations department ends with a knife at her throat.
Macey is certain things can’t get any worse. She’s wrong. An angry employee vows to put her on an online hit list. When he turns up dead, she’s a suspect–and on the hit list.
To keep her secrets and her life, Macey partners with two unexpected allies who cause her pulse to race with steamy attraction–and exasperating annoyance. Vince, a handsome, driven lawman, digs up more than just clues to the brutal murder. Brett, a fun-loving pathologist with a deadly sense of humor, drives everyone crazy with his fart machine-will travel. Macey’s supersized black cat Wikket, possessing courage, curiosity, and crankiness in equal portions, assists in his own grumpy, feline fashion, golden eyes open and claws extended.
For your convenience, here’s the link to the book. Did I mention it’s free through Kindle Unlimited?
Still with me? I’d also love it if you could like my author page.
Here’s the link:
And if you could follow me on Twitter:
Last but not least…to get updates on my books from Amazon: Click the link below. Then click the gold Follow button under my picture.
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Jada-Ryker/e/B00D8LR5XS