Reality check #1: Kindle Scout

Posted on Posted in Blog

On December 9, 2017, I uploaded¬†The Perfect Generation to Kindle Scout, basically a popularity contest to try and get a legit publishing contract through Amazon’s Kindle Press publishing arm.

I read enough blog posts from authors who had gone through Scout to know that it was more good than bad. Plus, it would give me a little breathing room to finish and edit my reader magnet, which I’d want whether Amazon published me or I did it myself.

The first few days blew me away. The book was very popular and got some great traction. My metrics don’t show nominations but they do show page views, and that was tracking well for the first five days. I expected a slow decline, and was getting it. But something shifted between days 4 and 5. I went from 24 straight hours in “hot and trending” to 5. The next day it went to zero, and there it stayed for four days until I sent an email to former colleagues at the University of Oregon. That gave me a real boost, but then it went right back to zero.

I expect a bowl-shaped trend line. We’ll see if it swings back up on its own as the campaign draws to a close. But some books are hanging out in “Hot and Trending” day after day. It seems that most of them are not by first-time authors, which suggests that these people probably have a built-in audience they can reach out to for votes. But it’s hard to know at this point what drove initial interest but didn’t keep it rolling. Is my excerpt unappealing? Maybe. Is the cover not good enough? I don’t think that’s it. ¬†Some people whose books were selected through Scout didn’t have many page views or nominations, suggesting that there’s a subjective component. This is a pretty commercial book, so I’m hopeful that will play a role. If it doesn’t, I’ve risked nothing.

The point is, it’s a mystery, and I need to get used to that. This business will be subject to endless caprices and shifts that won’t make any sense or, at least, have a direct correlation to something I do or don’t do. For now, all I can control is the quality and frequency of the work, so that’s my focus.