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.