The Problem with Kindle Scout (and the Solution)

by | Aug 5, 2015

By Shayla Eaton (@CuriouserEdit)

I’d like to welcome Shayla Eaton back to The Book Designer. Her previous article, Top 5 Ways Authors Sabotage Their Own Book, emphasized the importance of editing. In today’s post she discusses issues with Amazon’s Kindle Scout. I hope you find it interesting.


 

Editor’s Note: Due to the uncertainty Shayla brought into focus regarding the Kindle Scout program, we reached out to Amazon to see if we could get a definitive statement about their editing policies. Here’s the response we received:

“Thank you for contacting Amazon.

“From the content of your email I understand you want to know whether Amazon itself edit every Kindle Scout winner.

“Yes, Amazon itself edit every Kindle Scout winner.

“Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers have 30 days to help decide if a book receives a publishing contract. 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 Amazon-featured marketing.

“More information can be found in our FAQ page:

“https://kindlescout.amazon.com/help”

I have no idea why Amazon has never made this policy explicit, since it would have saved a lot of confusion. On the other hand, they do explicitly request that all submissions be fully and professionally copyedited.

So we now know that manuscript submissions to this program must be professionally edited before submission, and that they will then be edited by Amazon if they are accepted.

I also want to thank all of you who commented or wrote to me privately about this matter.

In April, I received an e-mail from Amazon telling me about their new publishing company, Kindle Scout. Today, I’m going to tell you about Kindle Scout, the big problem with it, and how you can solve it.

What is Kindle Scout?

Kindle Scout is a reader-powered publishing company by Amazon Kindle. Finally! Readers have a say in what gets published. If the author’s book is chosen for publication, he receives $1,500 upfront and 50% in e-book royalties.

Who can vote on my book?

Anyone with an Amazon account. If someone likes your book, he can click “Nominate Me” on your author campaign page. I’ve already used up my three votes.

Who can submit a book?

Anyone can, but it has to be a never-before published book and it has to be a certain genre.

Here are the genres Kindle Scout is accepting:

  • Romance
  • Mystery & Thriller
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Literature & Fiction*

*Action & Adventure, Contemporary Fiction, and Historical Fiction will be accepted within the Literature & Fiction category

I expect this to change as things progress, but it is a disadvantage if you don’t fall into one of those categories. I cannot wait until nonfiction is accepted. Watch out, world!

How long is the submission process?

Pretty stinkin’ long. When you agree to submit your book, you grant Kindle Scout a 45-day exclusivity period to consider your work for publication. That’s right: no shopping around. This gives them time to review your submission, plus the 30-day nomination period for your book’s campaign. At the end of the campaign, Kindle Scout notifies you if your book has been selected.

How much money will I get for publishing with them?

You will receive a $1,500 advance. If you don’t make $25,000 in royalties in five years, you can choose to stop publishing with them and request your rights back.

So what’s the problem with publishing with Kindle Scout?

Submitting your book to Kindle Scout is a smart move for those who are just entering the publishing world and want to get their feet wet. Like anything, there are pros and cons to publishing with them.

The biggest problem, however, are the unedited, published books.

Kindle Scout’s website says, “Make sure the entire book is ready to publish. This means (at the very least!) the manuscript has been professionally copyedited. We recommend following The Chicago Manual of Style.”

How many authors out there know a 1,000-page stylebook backward and forward? Anyone? Anyone? That’s why they said professionally edited. It doesn’t mean the author copyedits it (unless he happens to be a professional editor; even still, you should have another set of eyes on it).

Kindle Scout proclaims once more, “You can increase the likelihood of selection by adhering closely to our Eligibility & Content Guidelines and by submitting a fully finished, professionally copyedited manuscript.”

Nothing in the Kindle Scout contract states that they copyedit the manuscript for you. One source told me that Kirkus copyedited his book for him after publishing with Kindle Scout, but I haven’t been able to confirm this with Kirkus or on the Kindle Scout website. Hm, curiouser and curiouser.

So there’s the problem: Kindle Scout isn’t editing these books because it isn’t their job to do that. They ask the author to handle that. But are the authors actually hiring professional editors? Some are; some aren’t.

Why does it matter if I don’t have my book professionally copyedited?

As an author, it is your responsibility to publish your best work. If you publish an unedited book—you guessed it—that’s not your best work.

Here are a few things that will happen when you publish an unedited book:

  • You will receive low-rated Amazon reviews
  • You will lose credibility as an author
  • You will further the stereotype that self-published books are poor quality
  • You will risk unnoticed plagiarism and misquoted facts
  • You will eliminate any trust you had with a reader
  • You will destroy the integrity of the person who endorsed your book
  • You will ruin any chance of being picked up by a publisher in the future

Kindle Scout isn’t responsible for ensuring that your book is error-free, but you are.

But I’m practically guaranteed $25,000 in five years, so who cares if I skip the editor?

You aren’t guaranteed $25,000. You are, however, guaranteed to publish elsewhere if you don’t make $25,000 in royalties in five years.

But why wouldn’t your book make $25,000 in royalties?

Because you didn’t publish your best work. Because you neglected to hire a professional editor to spot misspellings, plot holes, and inconsistencies. Your readers notice these mistakes, and they get mad about it. So mad, in fact, that many of them will tell the world about it on social media and on Amazon reviews. Why? Because they paid money for a book that didn’t deliver on its promises.

What’s the solution?

Do what Kindle Scout said. Have your book professionally copyedited before submission.

It’s scary to hand over your work to someone else’s eyes. I know it seems expensive when you check a professional editor’s rates, but the bad Amazon reviews cost so much more.

It is your duty, noble writer, to publish your absolute best. Don’t mess it up.

If you need help choosing the right editor for your book, I suggest reading Jane Friedman’s blog post on that exact topic. I also encourage you to avoid being bamboozled by a book editor.

Update: Regarding the comments about Kindle Scout editing their books, I think that’s wonderful and I commend them for that. Thank you for clarification. For the author who submits to KS without this knowledge, however, I believe the issue stands: provide KS with quality work before submission. As I mentioned, KS does not state on their website or in their contract that they will edit the book, so for a new author, it’s his or her responsibility to provide his best work.

Shayla-Eaton Headshotx125Shayla Eaton is a connoisseur of the writing and editing process, having edited over two hundred books and countless articles, blogs, social media posts, and web copy. She took this experience and began her own business with one goal: providing authors with honest feedback and superior work in writing, editing, and marketing. She is the author of The Curiouser Crusade, an e-book to help writers finish their novels in six months. She loves coffee and is an admirer of all things creative and bookish. www.CuriouserEditing.com

Photo: bigstockphoto.com. Amazon links contain my affiliate code.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

61 Comments

  1. Tony Thorne MBE

    I just found this website and I’m very glad I did. After being tied up for several long years by what painfully turned out to be, the wrong publisher for me in the USA for Books 1 and 2 in my “Points of View” YA near future fiction series, I decided to try Kindle Scout with Volume 3 and sent it in a few weeks ago. Now I’m awaiting the result. The comments in this website have answered all the questions I had and made me glad I decided to have a go at this Kindle system. So, watch this space.

    Reply
  2. gablescherrycreek.tumblr.com

    An attorney can review the purchase contract before you sign to make sure everything is in order.

    Naturally, you can take them to court to
    pay for the damages. There is no promise that every item will be fixed, but most contracts have provisions that would allow you to cancel the offer if something really major is found.

    Reply
  3. Alexandria Constantinova Szeman, Ph.D.

    “From the content of your email I understand you want to know whether Amazon itself edit [sic] every Kindle Scout winner.

    “Yes, Amazon itself edit [sic] every Kindle Scout winner.”

    You mean, you would want to be published by a department that has grammar errors in its email response?

    Reply
  4. Janet

    This is a fascinating article, especially since I am currently considering whether to submit my manuscript to Kindle Scout or just publish myself. I must admit, though, that I was a bit side-tracked in reading your blog because you are still using “he” as a “gender-neutral” pronoun. Please join the 21st century and stop insulting your female base. There are easy alternatives.

    Reply
  5. Diana Wilkinson

    Can I publish in hard copy outside of the Kindle Scout programme? I assume KS only ties the author into e-books and audio books. This isn’t clear. Can I sell the publishing rights to hard copy publication freely?
    Thanks help

    Reply
    • Leonard Hilley II

      You’re free to publish the paperbacks/hardbacks. It states so in the KS contract/guidelines.

      Reply
      • diana wilkinson

        Thanks. I wasn’t sure. It is only the digital rights that you are tied into for the 5 years?

        Reply
        • Leonard Hilley II

          Yes. Good luck. I had one in last month and a new one currently enrolled.

          Reply
          • diana wilkinson

            Hi. How likely is it that one is successful? Have you any idea of the success rate? Have you had success in the past with your submission?
            Thanks feedback as this is a new avenue for me. I have already self-published one novel and have now finished my second one and looking for a more traditional avenue.

    • Anthony

      You can self publish a hard copy yourself. But be aware that once you make a full book available online, even free, you lose what’s called “First Rights”, and traditional publishers and agents won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. The only exception is if your book sells a ton of copies online, like thousands in a few months, then you could get an agent to sell your book to publishers, but only then.

      Reply
  6. Diana Wilkinson

    What about hard copy publication? If I tried to go through the Kindle Scout programme with my new novel, does this limit me to publishing in hard copy elsewhere? I am assuming the KS programme is just for audio and e-book publications. Please advise!

    Reply
    • Kaitlynn

      Read their contract. All of the rights and terms are included there. The contract is easily available on their website.

      Reply
      • Aveldia

        Wonderful blog. I’m looking for a more concert avenue to publish my work. I have deiced to self publish however, the Kindle Scout idea is very impressive regardless of the 45 days to 2 months. I guess my question would be, do I summit the story minus intro, blur, credits also, do I format the manuscript again, minus ect. Also am I to understand that even though they only do e-books and kindle I can still order my book i print.

        Reply
        • Sophie

          I laughed so hard while reading this reply, thank you @Alveldia I’m in a good mood now and I owe it all to you, alas I don’t imagine we’ll be reading your manuscript any time soon unless you really take the advice offered in this article and hire a patient editor. Good luck anyway!

          quote:<>

          Reply
  7. Robynn Gabel

    Thank you so much for this excellent article and insight into Kindle Scout. I’ve been preparing for almost two years to enter this program. This last year has been filled with extensive editing. First the plot line, then a line edit and soon it will go to a copy editor. My biggest concern has been how the Indie image has been tarnished by the lack of knowledge about editing, formatting and plot. This affects the market as well as the Indie reputation.

    Reply
  8. Tony

    Why did I get the feeling throughout all of that that I was about to be sold something? ;)

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      And yet, you weren’t asked to buy anything.

      Reply
  9. Emily

    Hi – I stumbled upon this and found it interesting. I’m on my final day of the Kindle Scout contest (my campaign link is below, if you’re interested). I am a professional copyeditor but I had three other editors review my manuscript and asked a group of beta readers for feedback.

    Shayla, this is a wealth of information. Thank you.

    https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/21JGRGNO91TI9

    Reply
  10. Amanda

    I decided to give Kindle Scout a try for myself this month, and I have to say it’s been hectic. People have been incredibly supportive and generous, but since my social circle is small I have had a hard time staying in “Hot and Trending.” I’m just hoping the book is doing well enough for the editors to at lease consider it in the end.

    You can check it out here: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/X0Z1F8GSDDVB

    Reply
  11. Scott Morrison

    I just received proofs of my second novel, Luck of the Draw, and am checking out various marketing ideas. Kindle Scout sounds okay, but in addition to the ebook rights, it wants the audiobook rights. I already have the audiobook finished, ready to go. Their contract says if they don’t publish an audio version in two years, the rights revert. But they make no promises. I wrote and asked various questions and made suggestions, but have received no response. Any ideas?
    Thanks,

    Scott Morrisonj

    Reply
    • James M Jackson

      Scott — To date none of the Kindle Scout winners have audio books produced by Kindle Press. As has been discussed here already, KP performs edits on books to make sure they meet their production standards. I find it extremely unlikely that KP would use an already developed audio book — thus you will have to wait two years for your rights to return or be out whatever you have spent if they do make an audio book (all assuming your book is selected, of course).

      In ten days we reach the first anniversary of the initial Kindle Scout selections. It will be interesting to see which, if any, of the selected books they will produce audio books for. Some of the ebooks have done extremely well for Amazon, and those would seem to be the most likely candidates for audio, but until the first audio book is released by KP, we’re all just guessing.

      ~ Jim Jackson (ANT FARM — the 25th Kindle Scout selection)

      Reply
  12. Stacey Keith

    There are additional problems with KindleScout.

    Recently, I submitted my mystery/suspense to KindleScout. The book stayed on Hot and Trending for all thirty days of the campaign, which delighted me since I had erroneously believed final decisions were crowdsourced. Not so much apparently. I received notification this morning that KindleScout decided not to publish the book.

    I’ve been a professional novelist for twenty-three years and have won multiple awards. A nonfiction book published by Warner Books (now Grand Central) was a bestseller. Even if my grousing sounds like sour grapes, ask yourself what the chances were that the book I submitted to the campaign actually sucked. Now ask yourself why KindleScout goes to such elaborate lengths to pretend as though they publish books based on votes.

    There’s something rotten in the state of Amazon. I would really like to know what it is.

    Reply
    • Linda Cassidy Lewis

      I believe you misunderstood, Stacey. From their FAQ: “Nominations give us an idea of which books readers think are great; the rest is up to the Kindle Scout team who then reviews books for potential publication.”

      I think it would be bad business for Kindle Press to publish a book simply because the author begged or bought the most nominations. As with most publishers, a book is judged on it’s profit potential.

      Reply
    • Sage McCormick

      I think you are right.

      Nominations have very little to do with the Kindle Scout decision. They are smart enough to know how easy it would be to secure nominations with the right fan base. The Kindle Scout team already know what types of books they are looking for so nominations mean very little.

      Reply
      • Matt

        I think nominations help their team to decide which book they’ll actually skim or read before making their final decision. Still I like their system. At least reader votes play some kind off role in their process.

        Reply
    • Kaitlynn

      Your post comes off exactly like sour grapes. I’m not saying your work isn’t well-written, because I haven’t read it and therefore cannot make that judgment. However, Amazon states in all of their communication and press that the nominations are only part of the process. I, for one, am thankful that other things play a role in selection as well. If works were chosen simply based on nominations, there would be no integrity to the selections. The Kindle Scout project would fail, because readers wouldn’t be able to trust what was published. Anyone can get people to nominate (friends and family), buy Google and Facebook ads and stay in Hot & Trending. That doesn’t mean the novel is worth reading.

      Finally, your final sentence in your post is absolutely juvenile and ridiculous. The only thing rotten here is your attitude. Instead of complaining, work to improve your writing.

      Reply
  13. Pat Dunlap Evans

    Hi, all. This discussion was very beneficial to me, since a writer pal talked me into doing a Kindle Scout campaign for my novel TO LEAVE A MEMORY, which launched Sept. 2.

    To gain nominations, I found myself flinging emails, tweeting, posting on Facebook and surfing blogs like this one to ask people to vote for my excerpt. I find the process terribly uncomfortable, and yet I’m here, asking you to check out my campaign. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/2MPBD4FKW808X

    To those who have been chosen for publication by KS, I congratulate you. After sending 300 queries to disinterested literary agents, I gave up and tried the Kindle Scout adventure. My novel is “hot and trending” so far, but that’s due to my compulsive efforts.

    I am very glad to hear from Kindle Scout veterans that KS does indeed edit the novels, although I had mine professionally edited. Still, I’ve made changes since then, and I do need an editor to catch any boo-boos. Writers will always need editors. Quality publishers should provide them, in my opinion, as writers are usually the most financially disadvantaged in the mix.

    Thanks again for this blog and all the informative comments and information. I feel a bit better about having posted a KS campaign after hearing from those who have published through that portal.

    Reply
  14. Laura Roberts

    To be honest, I find the 5-year contracts more troubling than the editing clause. Earning out the $25,000 might not be that difficult, given a good 5-year plan, but the fact that each subsequent renewal of the contract is for another 5 years seems a little frustrating to me, since I’d like my books to be available EVERYWHERE, not just Amazon. Then again, I guess if the rights revert to you after the first 5 years, you’d have the right to republish it under your own banner, and then could make it available everywhere, if I understand the specifics correctly, right?

    Reply
    • John Davis

      For a brand new author, $25k sounds like a lot of money. It’s not a lot when you spread it over a period of 5 years. I was making that kind of money 2 years ago.

      My biggest complaint with Kindle Scout is that it’s not needed. We already have traditional publishing houses out there, if that’s your thing. If an author is already doing things the right way, the money will eventually be there. Why in God’s name would I surrender the rights to my work over to Amazon when I don’t have to?

      Reply
      • LD

        Major traditional publishers only pay authors 25% royalties on ebooks. Amazon Press pays 50% royalties. They allow you to sell paperbacks, which I suppose if you wanted to seek agents/traditional publishers, you could. However, I spent years querying to no avail. Most agents want that instant bestseller.

        And think about it. Say a traditional publisher picked up your book, but most of them want you to have an agent, too. The majority INSIST upon it. Now you’re paying an agent 15% of your 25% ebook sales, plus any other sales they make (paperback, audio, etc.). Forego the agent and the lower royalties. If Amazon thinks you have something that will make them and you money, they will promote it.

        Reply
  15. Donna White Glaser

    Shayla, I have to say I’m more than a little upset at your assertion that Kindle Scout books are not edited. As you know (but readers of this blog won’t) I’m also a Kindle Scout winner and I’m in your FB group. You and I have already spoken specifically about the Scout editing process. I told you then that Scout books are edited by Kindle Press very thoroughly before publication. It seems to be a little disingenuous for you to say that Kindle Scout isn’t providing that service when I’ve already assured you they do. As a professional in the publishing field, I think you should be careful about spreading misinformation. Perhaps you could add an update to the post above so that people who don’t read the comments don’t continue to be misleading?

    I also respectfully disagree with your comment that 45 days exclusivity is a long time. In the past, when I was querying agents, it wasn’t uncommon for them to request exclusivity if they were doing a full-manuscript read. And it wasn’t for a mere 45 days either. I’ve heard stories of agents keeping a book tied up for months and months at a time. The plus side of my book being with Amazon Scout for that 45 days was I got a BOAT-LOAD of pre-publicity for it at no cost to me whatsoever. If Kindle Press hadn’t accepted A Scrying Shame for publication, I would have immediately self-pubbed it, as I have my other books, and I would have been able to benefit from a vast audience of readers that I would have had no connection to without Scout.

    Re: marketing. Yes, Kindle Press does nominate books in the Scout program for Amazon promotions. Kindle Press is an imprint just like Thomas & Mercer or 41 North. My own book is going to be featured along with several other Scout authors in an email blast this week.

    You can probably tell I’m passionate about the Scout program so I hope I didn’t come across too shrill. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a very viable option if a writer is looking for publication. I hope other writers who are researching the program take the time to find out more about it. I’m happy to answer questions any time.
    Best wishes to you, Shayla.

    Reply
    • Shayla

      Donna,

      Thank you for reading.

      Let’s look at this scenario: an author who wants to publish with Kindle Scout knows no other KS authors—he doesn’t have the information that you have. All he knows is that he’s supposed to have it copyedited—he doesn’t know that KS edits it, because they don’t say so on their website, in their contract, or through contacting them. With that said, it’s his or her responsibility to have it copyedited before submission. Yes, you’re telling me here that they copyedit it; but technically, to a new KS author, he or she has no clue that they offer copyediting.

      I’m really glad they copyedit the books. That makes me feel much better. From what I’m understanding, Kindle Scout/Press doesn’t handle the edits, though—they outsource to Kirkus, correct?

      All of that to say: not every potential KS author has the knowledge that KS will copyedit it for them because they don’t say that they will. That’s why it’s important to have it edited before submission.

      I think KS is great, and I believe it has serious potential to change the industry.

      Shayla

      Reply
      • Donna White Glaser

        Well, we can agree that it’s the writer’s responsibility to have their book edited prior to submitting to Scout. I can’t speak for Kindle Scout or Kindle Press, but it makes sense to me that they don’t broadcast that they edit their books before publishing. These books are being publicized to a very large readership prior to being accepted. As authors, the smart thing is for us to have our books as professionally packaged as possible. So, yes, every author should professionally edit his/her book before exposing it to readers.

        My issue is that in your post above, you said, “The biggest problem, however, are the unedited, published books.” Yet you’re acknowledging now that you knew Scout books are not published unedited. For instance, you pointed out that KP sometimes outsources to Kirkus-I’m not sure what difference that makes, but it does show that you were already aware that KP provides editing before publishing yet you said that they don’t.

        I understand that “not every potential KS author has the knowledge that KS will copyedit it for them,” which is why your post stating that KS doesn’t edit is so frustrating. If you would have said, “Hey, writers, Even if KS provides editing, you should still make your book the best possible it can be before submitting,” I would have agreed whole-heartedly. Instead you said, “So there’s the problem: Kindle Scout isn’t editing these books because it isn’t their job to do that” when you knew that was completely false.

        If you want to encourage writers to professionally edit their books before self-publishing, or submitting to Scout, or even before querying agents and traditional publishers, fine. Have at it. I think that’s an excellent idea. But please don’t push that message by misleading writers about the Scout program.

        Plain and simple: Kindle Press professionally edits their books before publication.

        Reply
      • Clive Warner

        Their seems to be a lot of conflation between ‘edit’ and ‘copy edit’ which for me are two different things. A book needs editing, and the edit should include the lowest level anyway – copy edit is just grammar and accuracy, it does not include line editing let alone story work. I’m a book doctor, have edited books of nearly 500,000 word count; another thing that worries me about Scout, is that Amazon say they will edit the book and I’m concerned about losing the ‘voice’ by inapt work – for instance substituting American English for British.

        Reply
  16. Amy

    Hi:
    I’m a Kindle Scout winner, and I can definitively report that all Kindle Scout books are professionally edited before publication. The KS team assigns an excellent editor who works for Kirkus. Mine was amazing and in fact knew the Chicago Manual of Style backward & forward.
    When I submitted my book, it was in pretty good shape, but not copyedited. So this is not really a concern.

    Reply
  17. Leslie Tall Manning

    Hi, Shayla! I enjoyed your article so much, I have decided to follow you!

    I am latching onto the part of your article regarding professional editing, so this response is to all writers, rather than to you.

    I have written nine novels and work as a writing specialist, but that doesn’t mean the editing task is an easy one. Many authors, like myself, do not want to fork over the couple of grand it takes to have a book edited.

    For my first self-pubbed novel I went over the ms at least 40 times. That is not an exaggeration. I have a checklist for everything from hyphenated words, to proper use of capitalization. Even since its publication, I have found four typos, but hey, not too shabby for a DIY!!

    But because editing takes me away from actually writing, here is what I am doing with another self-pubbed book slated for early next year (yes, I believe in the power of taking one’s time):

    I hired a student I used to privately tutor. He has a propensity for editing, just graduated with his AA, has the summer off, and still lives at home. I am paying him 75 cents per page (the book is a whopping 500 pgs), to be paid every few chapters. His mom is thrilled that her kid is doing something constructive, his detailed notes are spot-on, and he lives right up the street. Because I do not need help with global editing, only line editing for things I overlook, it is the perfect solution for me.

    Editors come in all shapes and sizes. One can join a writer’s group. Or ask a retired English teacher for help. Or find a recent grad who still lives at home.

    Whatever you decide, you MUST edit your books. All of them. Every time. The key is to believe that slow and steady wins the race. Stop rushing to get it out there. Your audience will still be waiting when you are ready. Rushing is a disservice to those who just spent their hard-earned money on your work.

    How would you like it if you paid for a cool shirt that only had one sleeve? Offering an unedited book is incomplete, brash, and borderline pompous. Period.

    Whether you are uploading to Scout, submitting to agents, or writing for your grandchildren, take your time, writers!! Our readers deserve it!!
    )

    Reply
    • Shayla

      Leslie,

      Thank you for reading! I appreciate your kind words.

      It looks like we’re both on the same page as far as editing goes. Good luck with your book! I hope your student works out very well for you.

      Shayla

      Reply
  18. Linda Cassidy Lewis

    I’d also like to point out that reader nominations are not the sole criteria for selection. I’ve watched several books stay in the “hot and trending” list through most of their campaign because of reader nominations but then not be selected for publication.

    Reply
  19. Monte Dutton

    I, too, am a KindleScout winner. Crazy of Natural Causes is my third novel but first in the KS program.
    Your blog frustrating to me because there IS an editing process. When my novel was accepted, I had a contact person at Kindle Publishing. I was presented edits, allowed to make further ones, and given an opportunity to dispute those already made. It was equitable and constructive. I don’t think my experience is any different from any others in the program. You respond, basically, oh, okay, but what troubled me was that it wasn’t written down. It seems to me you didn’t care to know.
    Secondly, it’s not reader-selected. That is PART of the process. Many novels that were rejected got more nominations than mine. It seems pretty responsible to me. Kindle wants reader input, but it doesn’t want to publish works solely on the basis of an election, which would mean that all the books would be the work of people who had the most friends or were the most well-known.
    One justifiable quibble with the mainstream publishing industry is that a celebrity can write the most vile, amateurish book and it will be published, though likely with some editing to make it slightly less vile and amateurish.
    The KindleScout program is better than that.
    It’s not perfect. It’s working pretty well, though.
    I don’t mean to seem angry, and perhaps your blog has several mistakes or misreadings that were honest. Perhaps the rules should be stated more comprehensively by Kindle Publishing and Amazon.
    But I did want to set the record straight, lest my work be dismissed based on broader misperceptions. I felt obliged to clarify and dispute some of your points.

    Reply
    • Shayla

      Monte,

      Thank you for reading. I didn’t take you to be angry at all.

      I’m very happy that we’re clearing some things up with KS. As I noted, a source had said that KS edited his book, but I could never confirm that through KS’s website, their contract, or through contacting them. So be in a new author’s shoes for a moment: he has no idea that Kindle Scout offers editing, so it’s important for the author to be responsible for his work and get it edited before submission. That was the whole point of this post—don’t take a risk with your book.

      As I stated in a comment, I think KS has amazing potential and I want to see it grow. Sure, everything has pros and cons, but it’s up to the author to follow his gut.

      Shayla

      Reply
  20. Jim Jackson

    To date ALL books published by Kindle press HAVE received editing from Kindle Press.

    You are correct Kindle Press is not contractually required to do this, and they may stop their current practice at any time. Authors should assume they will stop editing, rather than assume they will continue to edit since they are contractually not obligated to provide any edits.

    Given that, I concur hiring your own professional editor is a good idea.

    I have written a more detailed exploration of whether Kindle Scout might be right for you at https://blog.jamesmjackson.com/2015/07/should-you-kindle-scout.html

    Reply
    • Shayla

      Jim,

      I will definitely be reading your post. Thanks for sharing.

      Some other questions I have are: Does KS provide heavy copyediting or light copyediting? Why don’t they mention that on their website or in the contract? How many edits does it go through?

      Great discussion!

      Shayla

      Reply
      • Jim Jackson

        The copyedits are very thorough. Every author I have heard from considered them excellent — a couple said the best they had ever received. Story edits, from what I have heard from fellow authors are generally light. As far as I know books have only gone through one edit cycle.

        I surmise they do not mention this on their website because they are not contractually obligated to make any edits (as you noted) and therefore do not want to lead anyone to the conclusion they are guaranteed something they are not.

        Reply
  21. Susan Troccolo

    What a fun article to read! It doesn’t apply to my genre, however I kept reading because it was enjoyable and I was learning something. Then I checked out your website. Even more valuable to read, and beautifully designed. I’m already a fan and will hold on to your information for my next book.

    Reply
    • Shayla

      Susan,

      Thank you so much for reading and for your kind compliments. If I can help you in any way during the editing or publishing process, feel free to email me.

      Shayla

      Reply
  22. Linda Cassidy Lewis

    My book, High Tea & Flip-Flops, was selected though the Kindle Scout program and published by Kindle Press last month. Before publication, I received a detailed copyedit, as did every KS author I’ve talked to in the private Facebook group set up for us.

    Reply
    • Shayla

      Linda,

      Thank you for reading! I think that’s great that they copyedited it for you. My issue was that I could never confirm it on their website, in their contract, or through contacting them—I had only heard through a source that they copyedited it. So my point was to do what KS says and have it copyedited before sending it in; that way, you’re fulfilling your responsibility as an author.

      How did you like the process with KS? Any pros and cons you’d like to mention?

      Shayla

      Reply
      • Linda Cassidy Lewis

        I totally agree you should never publish less than your best.

        The KS process was smooth. They kept me updating on each step, responded to my questions quickly, and paid the advance within a couple of days after I submitted my final manuscript.

        My book was only published a week ago, so I can’t speak to the long-term benefits of being a KS author, but I think it was a good way for me to publish a book in a new genre.

        Reply
        • Shayla

          Linda,

          Great information. I would love to know how things progress with your book. I think it’s going to be interesting to watch KS and see them grow. Thank you for reading!

          Shayla

          Reply
  23. Anma Natsu

    I’m curious – are a lot of poorly or unedited books actually getting selected for publication through Scout? From my understanding, selection is based off reader voting, right?

    Granted, folks with large social networks could probably drum up a ton of votes from people who never read the thing… :-(

    Reply
    • Shayla

      Anma,

      Thank you for reading. I think you have an excellent point with those who have large social media networks. That’s a quick way to get tons of nominations.

      One thing I’ve noticed—that I didn’t mention—are some of the poorly designed book covers, which indicate that quality isn’t Kindle Scout’s biggest concern. When I see a low-quality book cover, I become uneasy and think, What else is wrong with the book? Now, regarding editing, I’ve been communicating with Kindle Scout authors and nominees and like I mention in the post, some tell me they’ve used a professional editor, and some haven’t.

      My point is: The author doesn’t know that Kindle Scout will edit his book (and if they do, what kind of editing is it?), so why take that risk? Ensure you’re delivering quality before submission, and you won’t have to worry.

      Shayla

      Reply
      • Lilah

        I think it’s pretty superficial to judge a book by its cover (literally!). I would expect more from a writer than to focus on the externals that have nothing to do with the words themselves but whatever.

        Reply
    • Teresa Roman

      I do not have a large social media network and my book was selected. I was afraid it wouldn’t be because so many writers are way more social media savvy than I am. As far as the editing question goes, many authors who go on to publish through bigger publishing houses get their work edited prior to submitting a query to an agent or publisher. It’s all about putting your best foot forward in a competitive market.

      Reply
  24. JJ Toner

    I can’t see the point of this kindle scout at all. It is easy to publish my books myself using KDP. It’s much faster and I receive 70% royalties.

    Reply
    • Shayla

      JJ,

      Thank you for reading. There a few reasons why someone would choose to publish with KS, which I think are worth noting.

      The royalties you receive are only for e-book sales; so you can still print the book and receive income from that.
      It’s $1,500 upfront. Now, in my opinion, that isn’t much, especially for a 50,000-word (or more) book that you’ve been slaving over for Lord knows how long. But the idea can be alluring for many authors.
      It’s a good place to get your feet wet if you’re brand spanking new to everything. For example, Jason Luthor has had wonderful success with his book, Floor 21.

      I think you’re right, though. I think there are better options out there. I like the idea of Kindle Scout, and because they’re new, I’m hoping to see many improvements as they grow.

      Shayla

      Reply
      • Shayla

        *there are
        I’ll be getting my coffee now. ;-)

        Reply
        • Demetrius

          Hi Shayla

          But does Kindle Scout do any promotion , advertising or marketing of an accepted book without cost to the author?
          Would this be one thing in Scout’s favor?

          Reply
          • Amy

            YES, absolutely.

          • Shayla

            Demetrius,

            Thank you for reading. Their guidelines state: “Kindle Press books will be enrolled and earn royalties for participation in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited as well as be eligible for targeted email campaigns and promotions that leverage Amazon’s ability to connect readers with the books they want to read.”

            One issue is that it says “eligible.” It’s not guaranteed. I’m wondering if someone can shed some light on how that works.

            Shayla

    • Matt Caldwell

      Hi JJ! I also won a contract with Kindle Scout, and I can vouch for the others when I said that we all received a heavy copyedit. As for why we went with Kindle Scout, I don’t think I’m overstepping for everyone else when I say that the idea of having the largest, targeted mailing list in the world at your back was a very compelling reason. Many of the authors in the program have benefited greatly from Amazon’s marketing emails and their pricing specials.

      I would recommend KS for any new author, while echoing the comments above that an author should have their manuscript professionally edited BEFORE they submit.

      Reply
      • Tam Francis

        No one has mentioned paperback sales. Do you retain the right to the paperback sales and can you publish in conjunction with Kindle Press? I’ve sent several email questions to them, and have not received an answer.

        Any info would be helpful.

        Thanks,

        Reply

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