Most authors who take the Kindle Scout challenge will tell you as an aside that the third week stretch is the most difficult part of the month long competition.
You’re not new anymore and you’ve yet to hit the final few days where numbers tend to rise again You’ve emptied the pockets of your social media contacts and turned them upside down looking for change. You’ve contacted everyone you know including the local ice cream truck driver and your Aunt Petunia’s estranged hubby who ran off to become a NASCAR Driver. Obsessive thoughts of asking people in line at your local burrito shop to vote for you skitter through your mind.
No matter how many people you flog or share your book with by week three you begin to see diminishing returns. Along with that, comes a drop in morale (I talked about this last week) and invariably a slide off Hot and Trending for a few extended periods. Every insecurity that you’ve harbored since you were a kid afraid of creepy crawlies in the dark, passes through your besotted mind, weighing you down with anxiety and a feeling that your Kindle Scout campaign will end in doom.
When those feelings come (and they will) be sure and remind your self that this too will pass. It’s only a competition after all and life will go on after Kindle Scout one-way or the other.
Even if I lose I’ve learned a lot about marketing and promotion and got a look under the hood at how many fantastic authors are self-publishing and trying to follow their dream. My suggestion is don’t put additional undue pressure on yourself and those feelings will fall away as you focus on getting through the long slog and finding new and increasingly creative ways to get eyeballs on your book.
As I hit the seven-day remaining mark, what else can I say about the past week? I dipped out of Hot and Trending for almost a whole day once, while other days I was in it only in it a few hours longer than that.
After depleting my social media contacts I reached out to online groups I belonged to who were kind enough to share the link to my book. I also stepped up my Twitter game and reached out to people through LinkedIn. Also, not everyone will nominate your book as soon as you send your message. I’ve had several emails from people in the past two days that I contacted last week.
For the last 48 hours I’ve managed an extended run in Hot and Trending, we’ll see how long I can keep that up. The book is currently evenly split this between people voting from the Kindle Scout homepage and those coming through a direct link. By far my biggest source of traffic comes from Facebook.
If you haven’t had a chance to nominate my book there is still time! Also, if you’d like to see exclusive illustrations for the print edition of The Shadow Of All Things sign up for my monthly email blast.
Sometime on day 13 of the Kindle Scout competition, my urban fantasy/sci-fi novel, The Shadow Of All Things, briefly slipped off the Hot and Trending section of the contest and I fell into a cold panic._
To be honest, the fact that it stayed at the top for so long was a surprise. I was still hammering social media as hard as I could to get friends and strangers to nominate my book, but my Facebook list had evaporated and while people on Twitter were responsive I couldn’t tell what impact it was having. I banged every other drum I could from Instagram to Linkedin and would have sent carrier pigeons if I’d had them.
For those who don’t know Kindle Scout offers the possibility of a publishing contract, small advance and the tease of Amazon flexing its marketing muscle on behalf of your novel. That is, if you jump a couple of increasingly high hurdles. First your book has to be accepted. This is relatively easy. Then the hard part begins. For 30 days your novel competes for nominations (votes) between an ever-changing cast of books by a sundry of authors all clamoring for the same deal as you. Every day old books finish and new books enter the fray.
What I’ve learned is that the highest number of votes comes on the first and second day (and probably last, but I’m not there yet). From that point on your numbers will slowly creep down with a few occasional ticks upward. What this means is each new book added to Kindle Scout is getting a big influx of votes on their first day and you will have to run on an ever quickening treadmill requiring more votes so you can stay in Hot and Trending, because if you aren’t in Hot and Trending you might as well be invisible. That is my humble takeaway.
Once your 30 days is finished, the books with the highest nominations are read by Amazon editors who chose what novel will be published. In other words, even if everyone and their dog nominates you, it’s up to an anonymous editor’s discretion to pick the Kindle Scout winner. The book with the highest votes may not win. It’s subjective and I’m sure frustrating to the many authors who have entered Kindle Scout before me. There’s little you can do but write the best novel you can and hope for the best.
After 13 days on Hot and Trending, my book slid off the list for the first time. I immediately launched a social media whirlwind, until it appeared again. I fell into a slight funk, because no matter what you do your book will slip off at least once, twice or several times. It’s a popularity contest and those with the time and social media contacts to keep barnstorming are going to have a natural advantage. Franz Kafka and Emily Dickinson would have done terribly in Kindle Scout, because it demands a certain extroverted personality that many writers don’t have. The Temptations once sang, “Ain’t too proud to beg” and that’s exactly what you have to do if you want to remain a contender.
Once my funk passed I took a long look in the mirror and realized all I can do is the best I can and that the success or failure of this will have no impact on my writing. I’ll continue waking at 4 and 5 a.m. to write before my daughter rises for the day. I’ll continue writing seven days a week no matter how tired I am. I’ll continue because I love it and the stories want to be told. After I came to that realization it freed me up, and I doubled my social media efforts and decided not to look at my Kindle Scout page as much as I had been. I waited a day and a half to look again and when I did my book was still on Hot and Trending.
I’ve fallen off the list a few times since then, but the anxiety that it caused the first time has dissipated and I’ve learned to roll with it the way we do with all the ups and downs of life.
I have one other observation about the mid-point of the competition. Looking at my stats around 65 percent of the people voting for my book are coming to Amazon to peruse books and somehow stumble across my Kindle Scout page. That’s a number, which has grown 10 percent since last week. As my contacts voting for the book have dwindled, strangers nominating it have increased. I’m encouraged that so many people I don’t know have voted for my book and that it has momentum heading into the third week stretch.
If you haven’t voted please do, and for those authors entering Kindle Scout, be prepared to do more outreach than you ever have before. For me it’s worth it because I’ve honed a lot of marketing chops that had grown flabby since the last novel in my Nightfall Gardens series came out. It’s also been gratifying to have strangers reach out to ask when my new novel will be for sale and how they can buy a copy.
Well that went by fast.
The Shadow Of All Things has been in the Kindle Scout competition for a little over a week now and has managed to stay in the “Hot and Trending” section for that entire period.
That said if you haven’t nominated my new book for a possible publishing contract with Amazon go do it, I’ll wait here until you get back.
digital copy of the novel. Okay, that sounds like a better deal, you say, so how do I vote for your book?
Easy. Click on the link here and you’ll go straight to the page where you can vote on my book.
So what is this The Shadow Of All Things book that you keep talking about?
It’s the first in a new science-fiction/urban fantasy series about the Elyuum, otherworldly, spectral creatures. If you like alternate universes, conspiracies, monsters, horror, action, adventure, mystery, and a sprawling cast of richly-developed characters fighting against ultimate evil, you’ll enjoy this book.
Here’s more from the back jacket:
When a man in a torn trench coat warns college-student Evelyn Cheng that something evil is coming down the subway tunnel where their train has stalled, she is ready to write him off as crazy until the lights flicker and the terrifying creatures appear.
Through him, Evelyn discovers she is a seer and that a battle between good and evil is raging in New York City among her kind and the mysterious, otherworldly Elyuum, who seek to tighten their grip on the city.
Spanning multiple universes with a sprawling cast of characters, Evelyn and others must stop the Elyuum before they conquer all existence.
If you liked my Nightfall Gardens series, I’m sure that you’ll be intrigued by my latest project.
So click over to The Shadow Of All Things page on Kindle Scout and give it your thumbs up.
The competition runs through May 6, please share with friends and family as well as come back here for updates.
Thanks so much, dear readers.
the scenario imagining a young Asian punk rock girl standing against one of the doors, head phones on, tapping to her own rhythm as something appeared out of the dark in the glass behind her. That image lingered after the subway started back up. Who was that girl? What were those creatures? The first chapter took shape in my mind.
Almost two years have passed since that happened: two years of tumultuous upheavals, big and small, in our little corners of the globe and around the world. There’s never been a period in my life that so much change seems to be happening to so many in such a short period. The Shadow Of All Things was written in that whirlwind and I’ve tried to do my best to write an entertaining story that also touches on the fear permeating our times.
I’d like to thank the artist Colleen Stiles for her patience as we navigated this long strange trip. I missed several deadlines and we went back to the drawing board on the cover and illustrations (that I’ll reveal in the not far future) several times before we settled on the one you are looking at now. I couldn’t be happier with the finished product. The cover pays respect to NYC and also captures a foreboding, anxious quality in the text.
Thanks so much to my family, friends and of course, the readers of my books for bearing with me. The Shadow Of All Things will be coming out in late May. Stay tuned for more details including an autographed copy of the book, illustration reveal and more.