Friday, May 1, 2015

Book Trends and Fashions: Amazon's Kindle Scout Program

Who has heard of the Kindle Scout program?  It’s something Amazon launched last year that lets the readers decide who gets published.  It’s an interesting concept.  Authors sign their stories up with the program.  Kindle Scout readers (just a sign up away for most people) can then read the story for free and decide if they want to recommend it for publication through Amazon’s KDP program.   Sounds like a win-win for both authors and readers, right?

So, with the first few batches of Kindle Scout books published and the program making news and waves again, I thought it was the perfect time for it to be labeled a “Book Trend and Fashion”.  Now, I’m not going to go into the details of whether or not Amazon’s contract is good or bad.  I don’t know what other contracts out there are like, so I would be a horrible judge of that.  This is just my opinion as a reader on how the program seems to be working.

The How It Works page for Kindle Scout lays it out as pretty simple for both readers and authors.  An author loads a book (it’s available for 30 days), the readers browse and read through the ones they think are interesting, and if the reader thinks it deserves to be published they recommend it.  The books with the highest recommendations are offered a KDP contract.  If you recommended a book that is then published, you get a free copy of the final product.  Seems very straight forward and Amazon is benefiting from free screening and scouting services from the readers. 

What bothers me is this:

When an author posts a giveaway, but you have to go recommend their book in order to qualify – it seems a bit like buying votes.  Now, how is this different than requesting people like a Facebook page or Follow a blog.  Neither of those actions really contributes to a revenue stream for a blogger or author.  It may help them get some attention that could lead to good things, but there’s no direct pay out.  A publishing contract (with a $1500 advance) definitely has monetary value.  I have no problem with an author requesting their fans to go vote for their book – people ask this all the time of their readers.  But they shouldn’t require it in order to enter a giveaway. 

This type of giveaway also drives down the integrity of Amazon’s publishing division.  If I know books are being published through this program because authors are buying votes – why would I ever buy one of those books?  They must not have been “good enough” to make it on their own, right?

It seems like what was a great idea is being manipulated by a handful of authors.  I don’t think the giveaways have been very successful though. The giveaways I’ve see with this type of entry are, thankfully, fewer and fewer every day.

I think overall the program sounds pretty interesting, but with a lot of potential to do well or go horribly wrong.  I’ve scanned through the selected books a handful of times, and I haven’t really seen one that catches my eye yet.  So, have any of you readers or authors tried the program? What do you think of it?

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