I submitted to Kindle Scout on impulse.
Let me give you some background.
Take the Body and Run, my mystery with a chick-lit twist, was rejected by a major romance publisher. To be fair, they wanted sexy billionaires and wealthy, powerful ranchers. The only billionaires I’ve personally met were jerks.
Granted, the “n” or “total population” of Billionaires I Have Met is tiny. I’ve never met a wealthy rancher. I grew up around farmers, who don’t necessarily fit a glamorous view. In my defense, I thought they’d read the story, fall in love with it, and say, “Who needs charismatic billionaires and rich ranchers?” After all, I had a hunted woman hiding under a dead friend’s identity, a handsome lawman, a death doctor with fart machine-will travel, and a cranky cat with a nose for crime.
I even had the support of one of their great, established writers. She’d read my work and loved it.
Did all of that result in a contract? Ah, no. Rejection.
That’s not the end of the book’s rejection story. Before that submission, I’d entered the book into the St. Martin’s Minotaur/ Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition. My book is a mystery, it’s free to enter, and the winner gets a publishing contract. The downside is submitting by December 15, and then not knowing anything until the end of March. It’s not a “Thanks, but No Thanks”… rather, the author simply doesn’t hear anything. Except for the winner, that is. Needless to say, that wasn’t me.
I had a full-length novel, ready to go.
Why did I think my book was ready for prime time?
It had been professionally edited by Chameleon, editing queen, for the very reasonable price of $180. The price depends on your word count and other factors. It’s also subject to change. If you’d like to get in touch with her for an estimate, you can send her an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jada’s Betas had put it through their exacting process. I do have an earlier blog post about how to find great beta(s). It’s not hard to find, because I’m not a prolific blogger. (I’m working on improving my blogging.) By the way, I’d wanted to call them Jada’s Master Betas. No, I didn’t have the nerve to suggest it to them, although they are masters at their craft.
I did some fairly minor rewrites to put the Betas’ suggestions in the book. I was paranoid about putting typos in my book. I asked Chameleon to go through it once again. Her price was very reasonable.
I had a beautiful cover. Talented artist Christina Keats designed the gorgeous cover. Her rates are very market competitive. You can contact her: email@example.com.
On Sunday, May 1, 2016, my husband Paul said, “How about Amazon’s Kindle Scout?”
My first reaction was “Nope.” With Kindle Scout, authors accepted for campaigns have the opportunity to “audition” their books for Amazon’s imprint Kindle Press. The last year Amazon did the Breakthrough Novel Award, I’d submitted a different book. I’d obsessively picked at the description and excerpt for the contest, wanting it perfect. It didn’t get even into the first round. Blah!
“Kindle Scout,” Paul said. “You can get a five-year contract and 50% royalties. Look. It’s just a few blanks to fill in.”
Once I started filling them in, I had to finish. (Are you getting a feel for my personality type?) I decided I’d submit quickly, without overthinking it. I didn’t pick at the beginning of my book. I didn’t stress over the description. I dashed off a description to meet the words limit, uploaded my book as it was, and included my cover. The evening of May 1, I hit the submission button.
I was shocked when I got the email on May 2 at 11:00 am. I did NOT expect to be chosen for a campaign.
Here’s my Scout profile:
If you’d like to see it in more detail, here’s the link.
My first reaction was panic. The thirty-day clock was ticking. I had no idea what to do.
Before you move on to Part Two of the Kindle Scout campaign series, you may want an answer to this question: What about my publishing history?
I submitted until my ears bled and got no, no, no. I submitted to hundreds of agents and publishers and magazines… all no. Did I give up?
I started self-publishing on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing in 2013.
As I explain on my Amazon author page, the books combine humor and murder in a total package of entertaining and fun southern adventures. Murder Takes a Dare was my first book. I wrote two more in the series. The Takes a Dare series gave me a fictional venue to explore addiction/recovery issues and my own childhood angst.
The Takes a Dare Series
Murder Takes a Dare
“I’ve gotten myself in too deep—” Jonah’s last words are an epitaph to a life spent on the wrong side of the law.
Marisa Adair is shocked when her former friend Jonah surfaces from her chaotic past of drinking and partying, only to be murdered. She must solve the crime before the killer destroys her new life.
To find the murderer, Marisa partners with unusual collaborators. Dithering Russell is focused on ferreting out secrets, including her colorful past. Childhood friend Alex is a chief financial officer, and the chief pain in her… neck. Esther is the daughter of a former agent in the FBI’s controversial “Dickless Tracy” program for women. She learned to disable an opponent in hand-to-hand combat around the same time she learned to spell and throw the quintessential tea party.
Marisa must revisit her dark past of childhood deprivation and adult struggles with addiction. The clues point to the shadowy underbelly of a notorious club, the setting for the glittering fool’s gold of her old double life. As Marisa and her friends track the killer, can they solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again?
Mayhem Takes a Dare
Fantasy and reality clash when the members of an online group meet in person. Behind the glitter of the profiles, true identities are entwined with deadly secrets.
“You can’t tell him.” Sarah’s pretty face hardens, the dimples fading like a whimsical daydream. Her fingers claw Marisa’s arm.
Marisa is furious. “I won’t let you get away with it. You’re trying to trick my friend into a relationship.” Marisa’s gaze rakes the bulky sweatshirt and boxy jeans camouflaging the lush figure. “You’re a stripper with a volatile boyfriend. You’re not a high school teacher looking for love.”
Later, Sarah is stabbed to death during her exotic routine. Marisa and her devastated friend are among the suspects.
In the past, Marisa lived a reckless double life. She was a conservative administrator by day. After hours, she partied the nights away in a notorious club. Now, she finds herself back in shadowy, forbidden places as she and her friends track down a killer. The twisted trail to the murderer leads to explosive, decades-old secrets, including a vigilante-style killing.
Marisa and her friends follow the clues to a twisted killer. Can she solve the mystery before her online account is deleted… permanently?
Arson Takes a Dare
An obscenely rich lottery winner tricks Marisa Adair into joining forces with a famous Florida private detective to investigate her daughter’s twenty-year-old murder. During a serial arsonist’s reign of terror, Mayla died in a fiery inferno. The newly wealthy mother wants to dedicate her considerable resources to finding her daughter’s killer and bringing him to justice.
Marisa is busy with problems of her own. After her troubled brother’s death, Marisa discovers he was stalked online. The stalker is the vicious bully who had made their childhood a living hell. She decides to track down the bully, confront her, and hold her accountable for her crimes.
Alisa was a beautiful girl. She was also the ringleader of a group of bullies. Now, as an adult, she seeks out the weakest of the herd to torment through the anonymity of her computer. Alisa also holds the key to dark secrets, with the chilling tendrils reaching from her childhood to the present.
After Alisa’s brutal murder, Marisa is the number one suspect. When Marisa is arrested, her friends rush to help her. Alex, sure he will be driven mad by Marisa, is determined to clear her. Marisa’s friend and former teacher Althea is combat ready after decades of teaching elementary schoolchildren. Marisa’s support group, as ruthless as they are supportive, will go to great lengths to help their fellow member. Tara, Marisa’s best friend and in need of her own twelve-step program for her shoe addiction, will demand hard choices of her boyfriend, the lawman who put Marisa behind bars.
Marisa lived a chaotic life of drinking and partying. Hitting bottom left her existence in shambles. Like a phoenix, Marisa rose from the ashes. Now she’s a savvy and respected human resources director. In jail for a murder she didn’t commit, Marisa faces losing her hard-won new identity…and possibly her life.
In Part Two, I’ll tell you what I did—and what I didn’t do—to promote my Kindle Scout campaign.
After we’ve talked about Kindle Scout, I’ll mention my Karma Consulting Series, mystery/paranormal adventures. In those books, I also discuss issues like homelessness.
In Part Three, I’ll talk about what I didn’t have time to try… but may work for you.
In Part Four, I’ll cover what happened after the campaign ended.
You’ll get to hang out in limbo with me (yay), and I’ll bring you up to speed as I work to get my book available as a Kindle Press finished product. I’ll also tell you about my foray into horror. A Pink Zombie, with a Mist, is the first book in the Shaken, Not Stirred Series. Along with a fun mystery, I also offer my own insight into environmental justice issues.
If you’d like to review the Kindle Scout submission requirements, eligibility, etc., start below at the link. Read all of the information. Then, decide what’s best for you.
Doing well with high paid rankings? You may want to pass on the program and continue what you’re doing now.
Want to try a hybrid of indie and publisher? Kindle Scout might be a good program to try.
Heard that Kindle Scout only picks established writers with good sales? I’m not a fabulously successful indie author. If I break 400,000 in the Amazon Best Sellers Paid Ranking, then I’m doing the happy dance. If I break even on cover and editing costs over the course of a year, then I’m doing the happy dance with jazz hands. (No, it’s not available on video.)