Two of my goals for the New Year is more blog content for readers and fans of my books, and also doing more to help my fellow authors. In trying to find a way to combine both goals into one, I stumbled on Kindle Scout submissions.
My blurb for my finished novel Blindsided needed help (it needed CPR), so I scrolled through the KS submissions to kickstart my creative process. I liked going to KS because the book supply is limited, and I don’t feel overwhelmed. I wanted to learn why a book in a reader’s chosen category catches her eye. Some might argue I’d be better off reading books for sale in my genre, but readers of this blog know I’ve had a terrible time with covers and blurbs. I wished I’d studied the patterns sooner. I’d like to think as I hone the process that I’ll pick a KS winner fairly frequently. So stick with me and watch my results.
What is Kindle Scout?
Kindle Scout is a “reader powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. Readers decide if a book gets published by Kindle Press.” If an author’s book is chosen, they get several things including: a 1500 dollar book contract, 50% ebook royalty rate, and featured Amazon Marketing. This is a win-win for readers and authors. Plus, if a reader nominates a book that wins, Amazon sends them a free copy. Books have 30 days to get chosen. Authors are on a roller coaster for 30 days (poor things, but you can help them feel better by going to KS nomination page). If Amazon publishes their book, especially a first book, an author gets a hand up in the industry.
So it’s cool. I even wrote a blog post years ago about readers choosing the books they liked. I’ve learned something in the process, and readers may tune in to KS and vote for their favorites. By blogging my nominations and why I chose them, the authors get unsolicited marketing and maybe a boost.
Disclaimer: I have no book in KS and these are my personal opinions on what caught my eye.
On the KS main page books are grouped in 5 categories. Today I chose Thriller, Mystery, & Suspense. I’ll work through the cats monthly.
1. First I scrolled through the 28 covers.
Three covers jumped out as interesting to me. Provenance-has a medical image on it and caught my eye. RestHaven-promises no rest and chills & thrills. The Pirate Sisters cover jumped off the page, and it was my favorite. Of the three covers, Provenance had a problem because I couldn’t read the author’s name and it doesn’t scream sci-fi. Honestly, the impact of the covers are diluted by the (Amazon) orange tag lines. These tag lines are surprising little gems because they managed to force me to look past weaker covers. I think authors should consider using tag lines.
2. These tag lines caught my eye and helped weaker covers stand out. Uninteresting tags made some good covers appear weak.
I’ve ranked the tags below that I liked:
A wartime chase up an African peak.
Modern female pirates plunder the Caribbean.
Fear the unknown in this sci-fi thriller!
Returning war hero’s affair turns deadly.
Blood runs thick in the cold.
They thought the building was abandoned.
3. The taglines forced me to add two more books to the pile even with what I’d call weak covers.
The Snows of Mt. Kenya caught my eye because I’d just finished an Anita Shreve book, Altitude based on that same mountain. Beyond the Icefall made me think of Shreve’s book as well. I think this proves a reader notices topics based on prior books they’ve read, even if they’re in a different genre. Cloud’s tag line caught my attention and Icefall’s short description was the best of all 28. At the same time my eye rests on a cover, it went next to the tagline, and in a flash the first 3 sentences of the short blurb. Overall that tag is important and the first two sentences on the short description. Restland had a thriller’s cover, but it’s short description wasn’t as strong as the others. My takeaway is readers look for a reason to stop because let’s face it there are a lot of books. Set the first 3 sentences of your blurb on fire!
4. KS gives a short description and believe me this was the #1 hook.
After reading the short descriptions, I changed the order of books to be read in the longer excerpts. By now, I have a feeling for the books, they’re not just items on a page.
*The Snows of Mt. Kenya by R.J. Cloud
*Beyond the IceFall by Ryan K. Jory
*Provenance by Garet Wirth
*The Pirate Sisters by Sean Pall
5. I read the short excerpts to see if I wanted to read more.
All passed the short read, but the best was Beyond the IceFall. The Pirate Sisters is a YA novel, not my normal type of book, but it’s short held my attention plus it had a strong cover, great tag line.
6. I read the longer excerpts.
I want to be pulled into story, understand the setting, and comprehend the stakes in these thrillers. Amazon limits readers to 3 nominations. As books fall out of the 30 day window, I can add more. Here is my short opinion about the 4 books.
The Snows of Mt. Kenya is a historical thriller about a POW escape across Mt. Kenya during WWII. This is based on a true story. Cloud’s writing is strong, I felt like I was standing beside the characters talking about the escape. Excellent specific details that historical readers appreciate. I got the MC, great setting, and the stakes. I want more.
Beyond the Icefall-Its short description is killer, and it’s the best of the 28. The first chapter is great. Jory gives excellent details, but I’m not sure if he’s giving away too much too soon in the second chapter. My opinion:)) He hooked me and I’d read on.
Provenance-Great opening hook, ratchets up the attention in the next two chapters in a totally different setting. I’m liking the concept and I want more.
The Pirate Sisters-Strong opening, but then we get a flashback. I felt the section after the hook was slow and could be shortened. The writing is solid, I’d just like to know more about the antique, which kickstarted their adventures.
7. I can only nominate 3. Here is the order based on which one hooked hardest and yanked me to the end.
Provenance was a surprise sleeper but it hit the ball out of the park with the opening hook and held the suspense.
Two of my nominations had low-key covers (Snows & Beyond the IceFall). They showcase the title and the author, but don’t say thriller to me. Snow’s tag line caught my eye and IceFall’s short description rocked. But in comparison to a lot of covers, they looked good. Provenance isn’t the strongest, but it gets the theme out thriller etc, but it doesn’t hit the Sci-Fi thriller genre. So, the books I nominated don’t have the strongest covers. Go figure. I’ve concluded KS isn’t the best place to view great covers, but hopefully it will help me choose my next cover without the usual angst.
Covers make a difference but tags can save you. Make them count!
One book’s tag line interested me despite its weak cover, but the formating kept me from reading. KS isn’t a place to let formatting run wild. People want to sink into a story like a hot tub, bad formating prevents it. Nuke the manuscript following Smashword’s free advice.
I wish all the authors luck, including the ones I haven’t mentioned. If any of my nominations are picked up by KS, I’ll review the entire book here on the blog. Please feel free to comment on your Kindle Scout nominations. If any of the authors listed above see this post, I’d love to hear about your Kindle Scout experience.