Kindle Scout – Another Publishing Option for Authors

A Guest Post by Teresa Roman

2016-05-11 book write writing magnifying glassIn 2015, I finished writing my first book, Back To Us. I combed through it repeatedly looking for errors, and finally sent it to an editor. Then I found a book formatter and cover artist. A few weeks later I had a fully edited and formatted book along with a cover I loved. I was ready for the next step, which at that time I thought would be to self-publish.

But then I got an email from Kindle Scout. According to their website, “Kindle Scout is a reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. 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 featured Amazon marketing.”

2016-06-06 Kindle Scout

The Process

2015-07-13 Handwriting2Here’s how it works: You go to the kindle scout website – www.kindlescout.com. From there, click on the Submit Your Book link, which will take you to a page that explains the process of submitting your book. At the bottom of that page you will be invited to start your book submission. To proceed you will need an Amazon account.

One of the things that attracted me to this program was the promise of being informed whether or not my book would be selected in 45 days or less. For those of you who have ever tried sending out query letters, I’m sure you can relate to how frustrating it can be to wait and wait and wait, not knowing when or if you’ll receive a reply from an agent or publisher.

In order to submit your book to Kindle Scout, you will need to have a fully-edited manuscript as well as a book cover. Once your book is submitted it stays on Kindle Scout’s website for 30 days. During this 30 day nomination period the goal is to get as many people to nominate your book as possible, and keep your book on the coveted Hot and Trending list.

For some writers, myself included, this part of the process was the most difficult. I worried about crossing that fine line between asking for nominations and bugging people. Some ideas to garner nominations include announcing your Kindle Scout campaign on social media, emailing your friends and family, and sending out a newsletter from your website.

While having a good number of nominations, and being on the Hot and Trending list is important, these are not the only determining factors Kindle Scout uses during their selection process. In fact, which book gets selected and why is still sort of a mystery, as some authors with a huge number of nominations haven’t had their work selected, while others with far fewer nominations have.

A few days after my Kindle Scout campaign ended, I received an email informing me that my book was selected. I was beyond thrilled. As a then debut author, this news was huge for me.

The Pros and Cons

How to focus while you're writing

How to focus while you’re writing

Fast forward ten months…Since the time my book was selected I’ve been able to observe some of the pros and cons to choosing Kindle Scout as a publishing option.

For one thing, your e-book royalty rate is lower, which means less money for you. If you wind up selling more copies because of the marketing you receive, the lower royalty rate might be worth it.

While your book will be eligible for pricing promotions periodically, not every Kindle Scout book gets the same promotions. Some fellow Kindle Scout authors have found not having control over their book’s pricing to be a big negative. Essentially you are counting pretty heavily on Amazon to market your book. However, if you are lucky enough to have your book chosen for a promotion, it can have a major positive impact on your sales.

I truly believe that without Kindle Scout I would not have sold nearly as many copies of Back to Us as I have.

So if you’ve been struggling to get your books noticed, or are a debut author intimidated by self-publishing in such a hugely competitive market, Kindle Scout is definitely an option worth looking into.

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them below and I will get back to you.

About the Author

2016-06-06 Teresa RomanIf it was possible to be born with a book in her hands, that’s how Teresa Roman would’ve entered this world. Her passion for reading is what inspired her to become a writer. She loves the way stories can take you to another time and place. Teresa currently lives in beautiful Sacramento, CA with her husband, three adorable children and a dog named Parker that her son convinced them to adopt. When she’s not at her day job or running around with her kids, you can find her in front of the computer writing, or with her head buried in another book.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

About Her Book 

2016-06-06 Teresa Roman - Back To UsAbandoned by her abusive parents at fourteen, Jessica knows what it means to struggle–and she’s tired of it. Though Jessica’s vowed that getting her college degree is the only thing she has time for, a summer internship brings Justin into her life, and she can’t stop herself from falling in love with him.

But Justin has scars of his own. A tour of duty in Afghanistan has left him with wounds–some visible, others not. A medical discharge from the Navy leaves Justin struggling to make sense of his new reality. Then he meets Jessica, who brings him more happiness than he thought possible. But can two broken people leave the past behind them to make a new future together, or will the pain they’ve fought to free themselves of tear them apart?

Buy It on Amazon!

Asking Bloggers to Review Your Book

2016-01-20 books pages reading reader relaxing calmYou wrote a book. Great! Now how do you get people to read it? Marketing is probably one of the hardest parts of being an author–but oh, so essential! You worked so hard on your darling. Don’t let it languish.

One marketing technique I’ve been trying is to reach out to bloggers and asking them to review my book. Here’s how to do it–and how it’s been working out for me.

 

2016-04-13 Asking Bloggers to Review Your Book

How to Find Bloggers

You may be familiar with book bloggers–people who specifically read and review books. Their “to be read” lists can be crazy huge, and if you get in with them, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back!

Because my book is non-fiction–and because book bloggers usually review only fiction titles–I took a different approach. The title of my book is Journaling to Become a Better Writer: 7 Keys to More Authentic Fiction. My topic is creative writing. There are countless creative writing blogs out there. I thought, why not see if any of them are interested in reviewing?

You can use this same approach even if your book is fiction. What are the topics in your book? Is it a Western? Why not look for country life blogs, ranching blogs, etc., and see if the owner likes to read? That could get you into a niche where the competition for book reviews is much lower than with book bloggers.

To find bloggers for my book, I started with a basic Google search: “writing blogs.” My first link gave me one blogger’s top favorite blogs for writers. From there, I’ve found other lists. And I literally start at the top of the list and work my way through.

How to Approach a Blogger

2015-05-13 laptopI’ve put together a form letter that I can send out to any blogger without having to write a new one from scratch every time. I keep my voice friendly and cheerful. And here’s the important part: I take that form letter and personalize every one.

How do I do that? I always make sure to read at least one of the blogger’s posts–one with a title that particularly interested me. I may also read their “about me” page. Another new trick I’ve taken to doing is to search their site for the word “journal” to see if they are journal keepers–which gives them a lot in common with both me and my book. (If they don’t have a search box, you can type this into the URL bar: “site:www.nameofwebsite.com journal.”

Once I’ve found some common ground, I start my letter with a line like this:

I just had to write and let you know how much I enjoyed your blog post, “Journal Every Day.” I agree that it really helps the creative juices start to flow! I shared your post on Twitter and Facebook.

P.S., sharing their stuff is so darn nice, you should really do it. It’ll show that you’re willing to do a favor in return, and not just begging the blogger to do a favor for you.

Then I merge into the request. Try to be friendly and non-salesy, and keep your letter short to respect their time.

Allow me to introduce myself. We. Us. Whatever. We are Indie Plot Twist, a blog for authors interested in the indie publishing revolution – though all authors are welcome to grab a mug and a chair at our writing table. Our first creative writing guide, Journaling to Become a Better Writer, is currently available, and we’re very interested in getting some eyes on it. May we interest you in a free copy in exchange for an honest review? (All the book details are below.) Both ebook and print copies are available.

From there, I mention that we’ll be happy to share some social media love with any review they post, then thank them and close my letter. I then separate the main letter with a few dashed lines and include the back cover copy from the book.

After the book description, I use a few more dashed lines and invite the blogger to reply to the email to request a copy.

What to Do if They Don’t Answer

Write to them again! I keep careful records of who I contacted and on what day. Two weeks after my initial email, if I haven’t heard back, I send a follow-up letter. It’s a form email again, and this time I don’t bother to personalize it. It’s a very short, simple message:

Hey again! Danielle from www.IndiePlotTwist.com. I got in touch with you a couple weeks ago to see if you’d be interested in reviewing our creative writing guide, Journaling to Become a Better Writer. I haven’t heard anything, so I assume you’ve been busy. (Story of our lives, right?)

Don’t worry, I kept the coffee on! If you’re interested, the book details are below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Have an awesome day.

From there, I include the back cover copy again and the final invite to get in touch with me. If this email hasn’t returned an answer in another two weeks, I assume the blogger is not interested and mark them as such on my spreadsheet. That way I won’t accidentally bother them again!

How Well It Works

I wish I could tell you that every blogger writes back within minutes to beg for their review copy. In reality, I have about a 20% success rate.

Now, I consider 20% to be pretty darn good, when you take into account my 1% rule. Whenever it comes to anything marketing, I simply assume that only 1% of my efforts will return results.

Bloggers are busy, maybe they don’t think my book is the right fit for their audience, my emails are getting sucked into spam folders, etc. There are many reasons for them to not read my book, and the likelihood that it’s just the read they’ve been looking for–and that they have time to read it now–is pretty slim. So I consider anything above 1% to be really good. Twenty percent is amazing.

How to Turn a Rejection Into Success

2016-01-13 joy, happy, smile, smiling, runningI’ve had plenty of bloggers write back to me and graciously decline. But I’ve learned how to turn even a rejection into success. The first thing I ask is if I can write them a guest post instead. Ten percent of the bloggers I’ve contacted have asked for a guest post.

If they don’t want a guest post either, I’ll ask if they’d be willing to share the link and cover with their followers on Twitter and/or Facebook. Fifteen percent of the bloggers I’ve contacted have shared my book with their followers.

Since my goal is for my book to eventually turn up everywhere (like dandelions), even a share on someone’s Twitter feed counts. It usually takes a reader several opportunities before they finally decide to buy, and if they see my book being mentioned everywhere, they’ll really start to pay attention! Or so my theory goes. Hey, if it worked for Jack Canfield …

When you add 20%, 10%, and 15%, I end up with a whopping 45% success rate of people who have promoted my book in one form or another. Farewell, 1% rule!

Stick With It

The most important thing to remember, no matter what marketing technique you’re deploying, is to keep at it. Contacting one blogger may not get you your book review. One book review may not get you your hundreds of sales. But just like millions of drops of water can carve out a canyon, a flood of effort can get you your book sales. Be optimistic, and be determined!

Pinterest Best Practices – 3 Steps to Better Pinning

March was an interesting month.

Very.

Interesting.

If you’re a newsletter subscriber, you already know about the traffic explosion on my art blog, Carrie L. Lewis, Artist and how I traced the sudden influx of activity to two pins of the same meme from my lowly Pinterest account. The bulk of the traffic was for the same post, which you can see here.

I wrote about it in length at EmptyEasel and, since that’s exclusive content, the best I can do is suggest you read 7 Pinterest Tips that Grew My Traffic 500% Over One Weekend there.

However, I can tell you some of the things I’ve started doing since that article was published and which have already begun reaping benefits.

Pinterest Best Practices

Inspired by such sudden activity, I started looking at Pinterest more closely, looking for ways to improve performance. The best tool I found is a free download titled, The Creative Guide to Promoted Pins (the link is to the download itself.) I read all eight pages in about ten minutes and immediately began implementing some of their suggestions and pinning the memes. I started seeing results within 24 hours.

I’m still seeing results.

The guide is written with the idea that the reader—me and you—will be doing promoted pins. I probably will be in the future and will tell you how that goes when the time comes.

But it’s also helpful for those of us who just want to make better pins and promote our businesses—read, books—more productively.

So what do they suggest?

Vertical Versus Horizontal

This was a surprise. I’ve always thought horizontal designs were most pleasing and that square ones were next best. Just look at all my posts here for the last few months. Almost every single one is…you guessed it: Square.

But according to the Pinterest gurus, vertical pins are seen more easily and get more attention. Pinterest displays are set up in columns. Horizontal pins are reduced to fit the width of the display columns. Vertical pins aren’t as subject to that restriction.

Here is the same pin set up two different ways. Which one catches your eye first?

Pinterest Best Practices

Pinterest Best Practices - 3 Steps to Better Pinning

Words, Words, And More Words

We’re writers. We love words. If we can’t convey a message in words, the message can’t be conveyed. Right?

Not when it comes to Pinterest.

When you’re making images for Pinterest, think like a book cover designer, not a writer. The image you use should say something about the content linked to it. It shouldn’t need words at all.

Look at the two images above. If I removed the words, the image would still have a message, wouldn’t it? That message should echo the written message as closely as possible.

Description

Did you know you can write a description for your memes?

If you did know about writing descriptions, how often do you take the time to do that?

You don’t need to write a page of description. Well, you can if you want, but it’s going to hurt you.

But it will also hurt you if you don’t write any description at all. At the very least, add a link to the post or page where that meme appears.

It’s better to write a description that validates the image, confirms the text on the image, and includes key words relevant to the post or page AND to the audience you want to target.

Target Audience

You knew that would be mentioned, didn’t you!

It turns out that knowing your target audience with Pinterest is just as important as knowing who you’re writing your book for. Hint: They should probably be the same people.

Your target audience will help you decide what images to use, what to add to the image, how to write your description, and what key words will work best.

But the target audience doesn’t have to be the same for every pin. For example, the target audience for any pins attached to this post will be people who want to learn how to use Pinterest more effectively.

The pin for my previous post will be for people who want to learn about free alternatives to Microsoft Word.

Those two groups are definitely different.

Conclusion

These are just three of the things I’ve started implementing for all the memes I make—for Indie Plot Twist as well as for my art blog. Yes, it takes a little more time and effort to create memes, but it is time well spent.

It’s too early to see how these best practices affect traffic at IPT, but I can already see the results at Carrie L. Lewis, Artist.

Go ahead. Give them a try and see what happens.

I dare you!

Targeting Genre

2015-11-18 target bulls eye darts arrowsI’ll say it upfront, I don’t know much about genre targeting. I also have a funny feeling I’m doing pretty poorly at it. (Although I had another author suggest that what I’d done was create my own sub-genre, “family suspense.”) I guess time will tell whether the reading public are interested in my family drama/suspense style of writing–cuz I’m also stubborn-minded enough to pursue this idea. Everything’s worth a shot once, right?

However, I really ought to learn a thing or two more about proper genre targeting. And I’ve found a great way to do that!

2016-03-30 Targeting Genre

What Is Genre Targeting?

2016-03-30 weather vane, arrow, target, direction, sky, windAs I understand it, targeting a genre means you learn your chosen niche well enough that you understand reader expectations for that genre, then you write to satisfy those expectations. That doesn’t mean writing to fill a cookie cutter; just that there are certain rules–from cover art to plot line–that should be followed to cue your reader in to what kind of story this is. For instance, it wouldn’t be romance if the primary plot weren’t about two people falling in love.

Where Can You Learn More About Genre Targeting?

2016-03-30 target bulls eyeI’ve just admitted, I don’t know much about the topic. But fortunately, I know someone who does, and her course looks pretty darn interesting! C. S. Lakin of the popular Live, Write, Thrive blog is the instructor on a new course all about how to sell better through targeting your chosen genre. Here are seven new skills you’ll learn in her course:

  • identify top-selling genres
  • pick a genre to write in that you’ll love
  • deconstruct best sellers in your target genre
  • structure your novel to fit perfectly into your target genre
  • pick a perfect title and cover design for success
  • prepare your online product pages to jump to the top of best-seller lists
  • price your book for your target market

As mentioned by one of her testimonials, she even goes into the very important topic of how to land your book in the right categories at Amazon!

If that looks as interesting to you as it does to me, I’d recommend you go check it out.

Targeting Genre for Big Sales

P.S., that’s an affiliate link, so Carrie and I will get part of the proceeds if you use it. But I know you love us. (Grins.)

So tell us, do you use genre targeting for better book sales? How does it work for you? Or are you going to give C. S. Lakin’s course a try?