Exclusive Insider's Guide - Kindle Scout Campaign Promotional Services Recommendations List (Paid and Free)
Kindle Scout Services List
Here is a list of all of the various promotional options I've compiled over running all of my campaigns, and hopefully some of them will come in handy for you (or at least the ones that you end up using).
If there is one blog post of mine that you are going to read to find out everything you want to know about promoting your kindle scout campaign, then this is the one. However, if you're interested in finding out a lot about each of these programs and how the worked out for me, then you might want to go through the blog posts and my guidebook to figure out what will work best for you.
Want to know more about the Kindle Scout program in general? Check out the bottom of this post for some more information!
So, without further ado, here is the list!
- Best Indie Press
- Online Book Club
- Author Shout
- Melanie Rockett
- Just Kindle Books
- Google Ads
- Facebook Ads
- Amazon Giveaway
Not Recommended (Paid)
On the Fence (Paid)
- Books Butterfly
- Scout Boost
- Twitter Ads
- StumbleUpon Ads
- Gleam Giveaway
- Bing Ads
- Book trailer
- Pinterest Ads
- Reddit Ads
Not Recommended (Free)
Kindle Scout Analysis
Best Indie Press (Recommended/Expensive/High Value)
This one was new for me, and up front I didn't really think it would be ideal. For one thing, It is incredibly expensive ($250, though you can get $50 off with coupon code 'LC50' when you sign up).
However, one thing they do is direct traffic to both your campaign page and a facebook post to get signups, and I've gotten a fairly large number of people to view my book trailer and like my page on facebook from their service. All told, the cost per click came to about 15-20 cents per click (counting the facebook clicks) so it isn't cheap, but I would definitely consider them to be high value clicks and on the days my campaign ran I saw a noticeable uptick in all sorts of web traffic. You can check it out here.
Jessica has been incredible to work with throughout the campaign. She is professional and transparent, which are two of the most important traits when working with promotional companies. She is really smart about how Kindle Scout campaigns work and trickles the nomination in over several days. She wants you to think of her service as a triple threat:
- Kindle Scout Nominations
- Facebook Fans/Likes
- Newsletter List Building
I would certainly agree that her service covers these three areas, and I managed to get quite a few of each out of it!
I recommend this one, but considering the high cost of it (even with the coupon code) it is one of the pricier options. Still, considering the cost per click is low and they are high value clicks, this is definitely one I would suggest for people wanting to make a serious impact to their campaign over several days.
Online Book Club (Recommended/Expensive)
I've used OBC for a while now and I've had really good luck with their services. The only initial problem is that they are incredibly expensive. This ad ran over one day and generated a trackable external click load of over 600 (and It ended up being my second highest campaign day altogether). That being said, the clicks were fairly expensive, but what you get in addition to clicks is targeted advertising across a lot of platforms.
For example, they share on twitter, facebook, pinterest, instagram, linkedin, and other places to drive clicks to your campaign, and it ends up generating a lot of action. They also have a built in giveaway that people can sign up for and you can share.
The only big thing about this company: they will not feature books that either haven't been reviewed by them and received a positive review or from an author they have previously vetted.
Basically, what this means is that if you want to work with them to promote a kindle scout entry, you have to first prove you aren't writing books full of typos, errors, and mistakes. You'll have to submit for a review and work up from there, so building a relationship will take time (all good things do). I wrote another blog post reviewing the company here that you should check out to decide if they will be worth adding to your outreach efforts.
Author Shout (Recommended/Cheap)
This site builds a landing page for your campaign and then drives traffic to it using links. I discussed it in quite a bit more depth in an earlier blog post from my The Everett Exorcism campaign, and I was please with how well they performed. They drove a fair number of traffic to my campaign, and it trickles in instead of all at once which makes it the perfect supplementary Kindle Scout promotion. Definitely make sure to sign up early in the campaign because it is designed to run all 30 days! Check it out here!
I actually didn't really know what to expect with this campaign option, mostly because it was only ten dollars. They offer to promote your book for the entire month for the meager fee and will even go so far as to build out share images for you. I hadn't really heard much about them for or against, but for ten dollars it was pretty easy to give them a shot.
What this told me right away was that they put some work into it and didn't just pump out crappy images. Don't get me wrong, a lot of it is probably placeholder, but they are attractive images nonetheless.
They also custom built tweets based on campaign data, including the tag line, blurb, and other features to get readers to check out the listing, which is nice. It isn't just a flurry of 'go nominate this and get a free copy' tweets.
Finally, the results: they have a landing page built for my book, and from the first couple of days it showed up in the top 50 external sources of traffic. Each day, the number went up (I had 11 clicks directly from that landing page on June 1st and that number kept climbing) and that doesn't even count the number of clicks that they brought in from twitter directly to the campaign. I'm expecting a sizable number of clicks to continue trickling in through the end of the 30 days, and if the book is selected they will continue promoting it even after the campaign is over with.
For ten dollars, this service is hard to beat. It is better than the $129 option I paid for with my last campaign, and the fact that it trickles in nominations rather than blasting them all at once is a huge bonus and makes it the perfect supplement to other services.
Melanie Rockett (Recommended/Mid Range)
This one was new for me as well with my most recent campaign, and like the previous resource Author Shout it makes a perfect supplement. Melanie does a good job building some custom links and shares throughout the campaign to quite a few followers, and it serves to keep a steady trickle of nominations. She also worked extremely fast, which was another plus, and has multiple tiered packages. You can find her on Fiverr, and I would recommend getting the 30 day package (the 15 day seems sort of pointless in the grand scheme of things). Check out her offerings here.
I can easily recommend her service because of how professional she was, but there are cheaper options out there if you aren't interested in spending a lot of money on your campaign. The twitter sharing images she made for me were clean and professional, which was another plus in her favor.
I honestly signed up for this one late, and it was on recommendation of a friend of mine who recently ran a campaign. I had honestly never heard of her services, and I figured I would give it a shot (for $30 bucks, which isn't too terrible).
First problem, though: she offers two services, a 30 day and 15 day kindle scout promo. I was caught in the middle of this, and since it was only a $5 difference it seemed kind of pointless to chop it down to only 15 days. I went ahead and signed up for the 30 day, figuring that I would just lose out on the 5 days that had already run. I decided not to approach her about prorating because I wasn't really that worried about it.
However, she had the campaign live and ready to go (with custom share images) in only about two hours, and she added in additional twitter support without my requesting it because I had missed out on the previous five days. She worked fast and seemed genuinely interested in helping to promote my book, and she has also worked to put together custom tweets and promotions to help drive nominations.
Just Kindle Books (Recommended/Cheap)
This is a fairly well established site with a decent following, and they offer a direct Kindle Scout promotion for only about thirty dollars. Quick responses and a lot of professionalism, and they have a coupon code (PAIDAUTHOR) which might get you $5 dollars off. Check that one out here.
I like using this company in general since they are so professional, so it is easy to recommend using them for your campaign. It will get you a decent boost plus some trickle in nominations, so probably best toward the slow middle of your campaign.
This one was from a friend of mine named Jaxon Reed and he blasts out to his newsletter on your behalf. Super cheap with some solid results. Check it out here.
I would definitely say this one is worthwhile considering how cheap it is and since it funnels in some decent results. Check this one out for sure and decide for yourself if it is worth the newsletter promotion.
Google Ads (Recommended/Cheap/Difficult)
This ad program is one of the most powerful ones out there. It also gets pretty expensive if you aren't careful, because it links out to billions of people and constant clicks per day. If you want to go down this road, it's going to take a lot of experimentation to learn how it works. The most important thing is to bid small, start with low daily campaign amounts, and gradually ramp up to higher bids and spend.
The only big problem I would say with google is that it takes so much time to learn the interface, but to be honest it might be worth spending that time early on in your career. It'll take months to get good at using Google Ads, but when you learn how to do it, it will make a huge difference in your marketing power.
Facebook Ads (Recommended/Cheap/Difficult)
They have done a lot of work with this platform to make it more user friendly. There are boosted posts and ads, and I would recommend staying away from boosted posts. They count 'reach' and 'success' differently and will make it look like your post worked really well when it might have performed poorly. However, facebook is also an incredibly powerful platform with some of the strongest clicks. Be sure to hone your targeting and track your relevance score because the better your ad is performing, the cheaper it will be.
Facebook is a staple of Indie Author promotion, but it is also honed for specific genres. If you match those genres, then you're going to do really well, but there is a chance your audience simply doesn't respond to facebook, and that it fine. If you aren't seeing any traction, then don't waste time trying to force this one to work.
Amazon Giveaway (Recommended/Cheap)
This was something new I tried out: basically, you run an Amazon giveaway by picking a product, scrolling to the bottom of the page, and then creating a giveaway. You can enter any information you want, giveaway whatever you want, but there is a really nifty feature that Amazon doesn't really bring up a lot: if you link to an Amazon website, then the link is active.
It is useless for linking to your own website, but Kindle Scout falls under the blanket of websites that will be clickable links. Basically, what I did was set up a giveaway (using Amazon follow as an entry option) and then in the welcome message and the win/lose messages I added a link and call to action to check out my Kindle Scout campaign. I got quite a few clicks (a dozen or so) out of it, and considering they were also following on Amazon it was a double win. The interface is clean and easy to set up, so this is a great place to check out for a little boost and reward for fans!
I've had some really good luck and a lot of fun using Amazon Giveaways, and since you can give away paperback versions of your books it is a great way to get some extra promotional copies out into the world! If you give away eBooks, however, please note that you cannot get your money back in a refund, only as additional eBooks for a new giveaway.
Author Ad Network (Not Recommended/Expensive)
I ran this ad one time, and never again. It was incredibly expensive and completely not worth it. I could hardly believe it performed so poorly considering the price, but it was in the range of 100 clicks and came out to around a dollar per click.
They are certainly in the business of making money off of authors with a lot of flash but don't have the marketing muscle to back it up. I won't even link to it, so you'll have to jump back on google if you want to find it.
If someone has had good luck using this company, then please let me know. For now, however, I haven't met anyone who actively recommends them.
Goodreads Ads (Not Recommended/Expensive)
I only don't recommend this one because it isn't worth spending time on. All in all, it isn't terrible and they are high value clicks, but my daily impressions were so low while bidding $1.20 per click that it just wasn't worth the effort. You have to load money in advance, and the clicks cost so much that it is a double negative: you'll spend a fortune per click and still take forever to get them. Just not worth it.
That being said, if you want to play around with some money and aren't interested in trying to get fast clicks, it can get you some traction on the goodreads website just through impressions and slow clicks over time. Keep in mind that the people who are clicked are incredibly high value targets since they are often regular readers.
BookBub Ads (Not Recommended/Expensive)
I would recommend this one because of how valuable the clicks can be, but again they are extremely expensive. For example, on Reddit you can get 1,000 impressions for about 40 cents, whereas on BookBub that would cost about $4 dollars. So, 10x as many impressions, which would make it nearly impossible for BookBub to compete.
On top of that, you have to get invited into the program to be able to run ads at all, which is a huge negative in my opinion. In general, I just can't recommend it when there are options out there with considerably cheaper clicks. Still, it might be worth requesting an invite to the program and playing around with it, because outside of Kindle Scout it can still be incredibly valuable.
I just can't recommend this one, though, for use in a Kindle Scout campaign.
Books Butterfly (On the Fence/Expensive)
I used to recommend this one, and in some cases it is good, but it is just too hit-and-miss for me to want to stand firmly by it. You can run the free promotion (gold level is $100) and get a fair number of nominations out of it, but the problem is inconsistency.
I've run it and gotten a huge burst (900+) of clicks that result in page views on your Kindle Scout campaign, and then on another day you might only get 100 people clicking through to your campaign and it ends up registering low pageviews through Amazon. They can't control the response of readers who you are reaching out to (nor the quality of your product) so this is just a risk of doing business.
I have personally never had any problems working with Books Butterfly in the past and had positive interactions, but I would be remiss if I didn't also mention that some people have reported negative stories in their interactions with the company (one in particular when an author requested more information and was informed that they didn't need his business).
Definitely worth checking out if you want to hit a mid-campaign boost, but use at your own risk. You can find it here.
If they were more consistent in their results, I would definitely recommend them. (Edited for clarity 6/28/17)
Scout Boost (On the Fence/Expensive)
This one barely (BARELY!) made it out of the not-recommended section, because it is expensive and just performed so-so. You can use a coupon code (25%-OFF-NOW) which makes it almost worthwhile, but the results were incredibly mediocre. The thing is, I could have spent that money going deeper into ad platforms and gotten as good, if not better, results out of it.
For me, it wasn't necessarily a waste of money, but it fell in the category of things I didn't expect to do very well that actually ended up doing worse than my lowest expectations. I just can't recommend it.
This became available not long after I was selected through Kindle Scout with Raven's Peak, so I didn't get a chance to try it that first time around. That always sort of bugged me because I wanted to be able to get a solid review of the program in my Kindle Scout Guidebook but wasn't able to accurately review it. Running this campaign gave me a chance to actually sit down and test out their offering and see how worthwhile it really is.
They will let you pay for their service up to four times, but I couldn't bring myself to do that. It is simply too expensive, so I only ran it twice. I also signed up for their email to get 25% off, but even that isn't enough to take the sting out of the sheer cost of this promotion. When you're talking something that costs over $90 for a promotion for something without a guaranteed return, then you're talking something crazy expensive.
So, how well did it do?
Not well. It was, in fact, one of my worst performing days in pageviews, and that is compared to similar days with almost no promotion. Considering how expensive this promotion was, I know without a doubt that if I had just upped my facebook promotion to pay directly for clicks (even with relatively expensive clicks) I would have gotten a lot more traction out of it than I got.
I have another promotion with them coming up in a couple of days, so there will be a second chance to see if it performs better this time around, but all in all I'm thinking this one doesn't have a lot of bang for its buck.
Use it at your own risk here.
Twitter Ads (On the Fence/Expensive/Difficult)
A lot of people hate twitter ads, and sometimes I can really see why. They can be incredibly useless clicks, and if you aren't careful they can quickly balloon your costs. If you run a twitter ad, make sure you use cards, have good ad content (do not spam hashtags in ads) and run with incredibly low bids. What sort of annoys me is: they recommend I bid about $2 per click, but when I say 'nope' and bid .07 cents, I still end up spending my entire budget.
That means that they would gladly charge me over twenty times the minimum price of a click if I'm willing to pay it. That's the biggest reason I won't strongly recommend them, because you have to pay more attention than most other places.
That being said, they can still get you a flood of fairly cheap clicks if you use them correctly, and sometimes they can translate through to decently valuable traffic.
StumbleUpon Ads (On the Fence/Expensive/Easy)
Very easy to use beginner platform, but it doesn't register pageviews quite how I would like. The problem is, they use embedded forms to bring a webpage INTO their webpage, so you stay on stumbleupon but you are fed content from outside.
To be honest, it is a little too clever for its own good, because the source website isn't tracking credit quite how it should, and a LOT of websites (Amazon, for example) add code that stops this sort of embedding from happening. It's a tool used by a lot of hackers and bad actors to steal data or passwords, so that sort of limits the functionality of this website. Still, it is nifty and you can get fairly cheap clicks (plus, they 'reward' you for running ads) so it isn't too bad. Also, the fact that it is clean and easy to use is a huge benefit for beginners.
So, if you are new to social media ads, this might be a decent place to start out just to get your feet wet, but you'll pretty quickly advance beyond what they are capable of offering.
Pinterest Ads (On the Fence/Expensive/Slow)
You have to be careful and make sure to bid low here, which also means results will come slowly. It isn't a bad place to play around with some money and has a pretty huge audience, you just can't use it as a staple platform.
The benefit of this one, like instagram, is that it is a strongly visual advertising website, so if you have a good book cover you want to showcase then this can help you drive traffic using it.
I can't recommend it, though, because it is too easy to waste a lot of money very quickly.
Reddit Ads (On the Fence/Expensive/Overpay)
As mentioned above, you pay by impression and can get quite a few fairly cheap. Then, it just comes down to luck of the draw. The problem is, even though you get impressions cheaply you have to pay a fair amount daily as a requirement, and when you say "spend $5 dollars" they often spend $6 or $7.
Not a terrible place for clicks, but be careful. Also, another thing to note: reddit has some pretty ugly corners to it, and you might need to be careful about limiting certain subreddits so that they don't get your ad.
I would recommend if they didn't force you to overpay on a daily basis and you could trickle clicks a little easier.
Gleam Giveaway (On the Fence/Time Consuming)
This can get expensive, but it has powerful clickthrough if you make your campaign visit a required action. Giving away bigger prizes draws way more people, and you can customize to also get shares of the giveaway, following on social media, or visiting other places on your website for additional entries. Gleam is fun to play around with, people love winning stuff, so it is a win-win. That being said, this can quickly become a very expensive option.
I've had some amazing luck using gleam for some pretty big giveaways and they can really help build an audience. Might be worth checking out if you're interested in doing a lot of social media promotions all at once, and since you can run it during the entire 30 day campaign it can really help trickle in votes.
I would recommend this one strongly if it wasn't so time consuming to set up, operate, and then expensive when rewarding prizes.
Bing Ads (On the Fence/Expensive)
Just like google with a much smaller audience and payment required up front. Also, clicks are going to default to more expensive, which is a negative. Still, it isn't terrible and if you like google this is very similar.
I would honestly say, just use google. If you are a google master, then this one might be worth supplementing your other efforts, but all in all it just isn't really worth it.
Book Trailer (On the Fence/Fun/Expensive)
This can be a lot of fun (and I talk a lot about this option here) but it doesn't directly get your clicks. Sure, there are some cool parts attached to it, but all in all I would say there are better places to spend your money. However, if you don't make it Kindle Scout campaign centric, then you can always re-use it for promotions months and years down the line. In the mentioned post you can find some information about how I made my trailer.
I enjoyed making the trailer and seeing it in action, it just isn't really driving a lot of traffic the way some other efforts are, and since making a good one can get fairly expensive it was more for me than for the campaign.
I know this one is just showing up out of the blue, but that is because it sort of happened out of the blue. I didn't really plan to make a trailer early in the campaign, and none of my efforts were tied to it, but about midway when I was bored and without anymore things to work on I decided to try and have a book trailer built.
I made one previously for Raven's Peak and thought it turned out really well, but this time I wanted something different. I wanted something themed around the genre rather than something that tries to stand as a real trailer. Ideally, it would get the blood pumping and make people excited without really delving too much into the story.
Did I succeed? You can be the judge. I do wish the guy who made the video had made it a little bit darker, but the music cue and timing is spot on, and the after effects are really cool.
So the question is: how did I do it, and do I recommend it...
Yes. For the most part, it was a super easy experience and the trailer came out really well. It was a little longer than I would have liked, but that isn't really a problem. It looks good in Facebook's timeline and only took a couple of days to make. Fiverr is a great place to find people to work on something like this, and Videohive is a great place to get videos you can use in the trailer.
I will try to keep track of it and see how things pan out, and then I'll let everyone know what comes of it.
Handouts (On the Fence/Time Consuming)
I printed off some handouts and passed them out, but this takes a lot of effort and time to leave them at places and drive around. If you're looking for an interpersonal campaign, then this is perfect, but for me it is easier to do most of my work online in my spare time (I don't have hours to spare driving around to bookstores and libraries).
If you do go this route, uprinting is pretty cheap for making handouts (bookmarks, in my case) and I made them open ended so that after my campaign ends I can just direct the traffic to a new promotion. It just spares me from having to worry about not getting them out fast enough.
This can do a lot of good outside of a kindle scout campaign, however, so it is worth keeping in mind for your future efforts.
I had really high hopes for this promotional idea, but it didn't really pan out. I left a bunch of bookmarks around different places and asked family and friends to hand them out as well, but in general the response has been thoroughly underwhelming.
Most of the people who came to the book signing weren't interested, and they simply weren't the right audience for my book. That being said, the signing itself was a success and I sold nearly all of the books I brought, it just wasn't right for the campaign.
I have confidence that the handouts can work, but for me it has been a problem of wrong place and wrong time.
A few recommendations I would have for it, though: don't tie your campaign to the handouts too tightly. What I did was build a landing page for the handouts, and then on the landing page it features my campaign. After the campaign ends, I will be able to change the landing page and continue handing out the cards. If, on the other hand, you link the cards to your Kindle Scout page, then you're crippling them once the campaign ends.
This is a great platform for building up shares on social media. Basically, you sign up for an account and then build a campaign. Fill in some details, run it through a vetting process, and then voila it is ready to go. How it works: on the day/hour you pick everyone who signs up will send out the exact same tweet/facebook message/linkedIn post/tumblr share.
It also tracks how much 'reach' your team of supporters have (and it is cool to see that 1,000,000 plus people are going to get your post). However, keep in mind one HUGE detail: they are posting it, not retweeting, so if you put a message that says: "Check out my new Kindle Scout entry..." then THEY are posting that message as if it is THEIRS. The trick is to write things in the third person: "Nominate this Kindle Scout entry and get a free copy...".
I won't support campaigns anymore that personalize the message because then I get confused readers wondering if I have a new campaign or a new book coming out. It is just bad practice. A couple of links you'll need: headtalker and then a facebook group that trades support. Join the group and then share/post and cross-promote!
Share Social Media (Recommended/Free)
Do this, but don't overdo it. Don't spam people or hit them too hard with hourly posts. I've heard of authors sending out newsletters every couple of hours (a huge no-no) and people scheduling twitter posts for ten times a day. Don't overdo it. Invite people to your stuff, keep up a new post every couple of days, but also post about other stuff (what you're working on next, things you think are interesting). Share with your fans, don't deluge them, and social media can be a hugely beneficial way to get nominations.
Twitter has been fairly steady but not amazing with results. Facebook is, of course, rather expensive. My clicks have been coming in around 4-10 cents per click, which is worse than expected. I actually stopped the ad, changed a few things and modified the targeting, and then I'm running it again to see if this time I can do better.
I made a bookbub ad and I'm giving that one another try, but the clickthrough was abysmal the first time around. Reddit is too costly to recommend. Stumbleupon is pretty good, but I'm not sure how well that translates to page views because of how they display pages.
Goodreads is just completely not worth it. I overpay dramatically for clicks, and in general they still don't see as much traffic as I would like. In general, it just isn't really panning out and I don't think I'll bother re-upping the account next time. Bing didn't do bad, but the cost per click was expensive.
With Google, my ads have been costing about 1 cent per click, and I'm directing the traffic to my giveaway page. That has actually paid off really well and seems to be driving a lot of traffic back out to my campaign page. Penny click ads can be worthwhile when they work, but it's been slipping in results for the last few days and I don't know if it will manage to stay valuable.
In general, with ads you will want to start small and slowly ramp up. Pay as little daily as possible, monitor results, and make sure you are getting value out of it. The ads that seem to do well you can ramp up to higher cost per day, and the ads that perform poorly should be turned off or re-evaluated.
Don't go overboard or wish for huge results, because it is really easy to spend dozens or even hundreds of dollars and get almost nothing in return. I play around with ads on a regular basis because I want to get better at using them, and I've gotten to a point where I can get decent results fairly cheap. That being said, it cost me a lot of wasted money to get to this point.
However...it feels like email advertising (which used to be an author staple) is really slipping in value. It is expensive and the results keep diminishing, so I think we are reaching a point where (at least for a while) social advertising might be one of the better ways to generate returns. Just be careful, take your time, and constantly monitor your results.
Goodreads Groups (Recommended/Free)
Join groups, meet people, and find places where they invite authors to promote. Leave links to your campaign, and people will click them. This generally gets me a handful of clicks over the life of a campaign, so I can certainly recommend this. There are a lot of things I don't like about Goodreads, but it is a solid community of readers and as long as you aren't spammy and overbearing you can find places that are receptive to your message.
I would recommend joining groups and trying to be active outside of the kindle scout campaigns. People don't like drive by authors (the ones who post promotional stuff but never actually communicate like a real human being) but they respond really well to participants.
Thank You Note (Recommended/Free)
This is less of an actual promotional method to drive links to your campaign, but rather a way to get nominators to funnel into your newsletter after the campaign is over with.
Basically, I sent in:
THANK YOU! When you read this, you'll already know whether or not The Everett Exorcism has been selected by Kindle. If it was selected then you'll get a free e-book copy directly from Kindle. However, even if it hasn't been selected, I would like to give you a copy anyway. To do that, though, you'll need to give me your email address so I can tell you when the book is available for free on Kindle. Click here to give me that information: http://bit.ly/teefree Thank you so much for your support!
This note now offers a direct copy of the book whether or not it is picked, and that will hopefully get signups either way after the campaign ends. It'll also help with early reviews if the book isn't picked, so it is a win/win for me and makes it easier to want to spend money to generate traffic (sort of a self-selected process of getting newsletter subscribers).
If you didn't do this before making your campaign, a quick email to Kindle Scout to adjust the campaign will get it fixed for you in only a couple of days!
If you don't have a newsletter, check out mailerlite. Free for 1,000 subscribers and then it is fairly cheap thereafter, and if you also sign up for a paid instafreebie account, you get 30% off mailerlite! They go perfectly together!
If you aren't on Kboards, then that is the first thing you need to do. Signup and jump in. It's a very active forum with some incredible information available from the savvy authors who chat there. There is also a dedicated thread over there just for Kindle Scout campaigns.
You can share your link, nominate some campaigns, and when your campaign is about to end you'll bump up the list to receive nominations from the other board members. The benefit of this is people can nominate and support, but the thread is centralized around promoting campaigns and talking shop, not just 'nominate me...no nominate ME' posts.
This is a no-brainer and highly recommended. Join this group, start posting, start interacting, and you will learn so much that it's going to change your world!
Thunderclap (Not Recommended/Free)
This is just like headtalker, except the minimum required is for 100 people to sign up. I would recommend it, except there is plain and simply a better option out there already. If you are considering using this, then just use Headtalker instead.
Just don't bother with this one unless you are a glutton for punishment.
What is Kindle Scout?
Amazon used to have an annual competition to publish books where anyone could enter and then a select number of people won contracts. That was great, but then Amazon decided that it would be better to create a reader powered publishing system that was ongoing rather than annual. The idea is, people can vote on books they like over a 30 day period, and then the editors will pick books to publish under the Kindle Press Imprint.
What you need:
- A 50,000+ word completed (edited) book
- A cover
- A blurb
- A tagline
You submit this to them, they create a campaign page, and for 30 days people can look at your page and nominate your book. You get daily stats about how many people are looking at your book, but you can't see how many actually nominate. You can also see time spent on the Hot & Trending list, which showcases the top twenty books being nominated at that current time.
If you win, you get:
- A $1,500 advance
- Targeted Amazon marketing (very powerful)
- You keep paperback rights
- Easy rights reversion if your book doesn't take off
And quite a few authors have sold 10,000 plus copies in their first year after getting selected by this program. The thing is, Amazon only accepts about 1-3% of the books submitted through this system, so it is important to find ways of floating to the top of the pile. People argue all the time that page views and hot & trending don't matter, but that doesn't seem to be the case, and if anything it matters more than it did when the program was brand new. The competition is tougher and they have already picked over 200 books.
This blog post is designed to help people stand out by finding a way to build your campaign and drive people to your listing. You don't have to spend money, and many people don't, but if you're going to then I want to help you find the best possible avenues to spend that money effectively!
A little bit of analysis: Should You Pay?
Should you spend money on your Kindle Scout Campaign? When it comes to Kindle scout and spending money and why hot and trending and pageviews matter, there are a few launch elements to keep in mind:
Sales and also-boughts contribute to how Amazon recommends books. If your book syncs up high on another books also-bought list, then amazon will recommend your book to people who read the first book, and it caps to display 100 books (but could be considerably higher). Likewise, a book that is selling very well is more likely to be recommended by amazon to new readers, so getting sales begets more sales. Reviews show amazon how well their system is working, and thereby contribute a community opinion of the book that helps when recommending.
Kindle Scout books that are chosen are given to everyone who nominated two weeks before launch, and reviews are allowed to be loaded onto the book before launch. This doesn't contribute to sales, but it does contribute to also-boughts and reviews. This can give your book a huge leg up on recommendations, which means more sales, which in turn means more reviews and also-boughts. It's a sort of self-feeding cycle, and so the more pageviews/nominations you get the stronger the initial push to this cycle.
However, you don't need any of this to have a successful book launch, and many books are able to come out in one day and almost immediately attain huge success on the quality of the writing. Kindle Scout is willing to invest in these titles as well, because the goal is to add good content to their library. The best case scenario is good content and this early boost of also-boughts and reviews.
So, no, you don't have to spend any money to get selected. The biggest problem you face revolves around the possibility of not getting picked: investing in page views and nominations is essentially investing in your book's launch, and the more you get the stronger your launch is. However, if your book isn't chosen, then all of that investment is for nothing.
Hence, if you invest, you're essentially gambling that money, and either it can be a huge investment that will pay off in your book's launch through Kindle Scout, or it is a complete waste that could have been better spent on your actual book launch after you are declined.
One way to hedge your bets is, in your thank you note invite people to follow your newsletter for a free copy post launch (which essentially attempts to hold onto the benefit of pageviews and nominations) and to try and build excitement about your book, but even that results in an overall loss.
So, no, you don't need to spend money to get selected by Kindle Scout, and if you do spend money you need to think of it more as investing in your book's future than just running this campaign. Do whatever you can to build things up for after the campaign is over with. My goal with this blog (and why I spend money on my campaign) is as much to tell people what did and didn't work for me and help people put their money in the right places.
Hot & Trending List
TLDR: generating real traffic for your book and not worrying about nominations is the way to go.
Hot and trending is based on an algorithm that is completely internal to amazon. We can, however, extrapolate how it works based on similar algorithms (for example, we know that reviews with more "like if helpful" clicks are worth more than comparable reviews that aren't liked)
Most likely it takes page views and nominations into account, as well as data over several days and sticky hot and trending hours (it's harder to knock a book off of hot and trending to get on than it is to stay on once you're up there). Most likely it takes page view to nomination ratios into account as well (if 50 people look at your book in a day and only 2 nominated, then it probably is a lot worse off than 15 people looking at your book and the same 2 nominating).
It also probably takes into account how many clicks come internal links from kindle scout compared to external (did you send a friend to the site by direct link, or did someone browse KS website and decide take a look) because that would give them analytics about how good your cover is. Most likely, a browse while not on hot and trending is worth more than a browse while it is trending, because if someone will just find your book from a list of 300 books and choose to click yours, that is worth more than someone skimming a list of 20 and picking yours.
Everything probably has some averaging weight to find an overall value, and it seems that the hot and trending list is a placeholder list that is randomized over pages (ie, your book might end up in slot 5 on the hot and trending list, and over the course of the day slot 5 spends equal time on pages 1-5 of hot and trending. If you jump onto the list and take slot 5 from another author, then the slot itself continues its trek through the page listings so that no single H&T book stays on page 1 the entire time). The list is definitely random, thereby obfuscating the process even further. Also, I would bet that TSOP "Time spent on page" matters quite a bit too. If people just click the link and nominate, then scout assumes that's a friend/fan nomination, whereas if someone spends 10 minutes or so on your page reading everything you wrote, and then they nominate, scout can say "this user read and liked the entry and voted" instead of "this user is just clicking to support the author".
Essentially, it's probably a fairly complicated algorithm, but all you need to know is getting eyeballs to your page is the important thing. They added in protections because in the first year of kindle scout people could just remove and reapply their own nomination over and over again to get on and stay on hot and trending (which is why there was a flurry of "ZOMG MY BOOK WAS HOT AND TRENDING THE ENTIRE TIME AND DIDN'T GET PICKED" blog and forum posts from people complaining (hence why a lot of blog posts are utterly useless about the early days of kindle scout). Now, my bet is that someone removing and reapplying a nomination multiple times is a negative for your book (to discourage cheating) or at least has a net neutral effect on your ranking.
In any case, the only thing you can control is traffic. Getting as many people to look at your page and read the content you've provided is what gets you noticed. Analytics are insanely powerful, so their algorithm could literally include almost anything, but the paltry details they give us access to make it impossible to accurately predict which analytics they care about.
Hopefully some of this information was helpful for you in making up your mind about what to do with your Kindle Scout campaign. I'll keep updating it with new options and add new services as I find them. If I missed any that you want me to test out or mention then link them in the comments below. If/when I run more campaigns I'll make sure to test them out and add them to the list!
Let me know in the comments if you agree/disagree with my assessments and what your experience has been with some of these programs. Also, check out my Kindle Scout Guidebook for more information about the basics of running a campaign and for more tips and tricks not mentioned here!
I also have an indepth look at the Hot & Trending list and how pageviews work in the guidebook, so that might help you understand better how those work.
What comes next?
Now I'm turning to new projects. Will I put more books on Kindle Scout? Most likely. Who knows what the future holds, but keep an eye on my blog (or join my newsletter) to see what is next in my world!
Is it worthwhile for Amazon to give away free copies?
Based on how book sales work, the idea that getting too many nominations is bad is not at all how things work for Kindle Scout. There are multiple reasons why giving away a lot of books here is in yours (and Amazon's) best interest.
Virtually any category in the world for your book has a readership of at least a few million, and upwards of tens of millions, possible purchasers/readers.
When a new book is released by a major publisher, they give out ARC copies (sometimes 5-15 thousand) to generate early readership and interest. This is a way to get your book noticed and get it into the hands of the market for reviews, publicity, etc.
Amazon is asking readers to nominate your book and in return they are giving away free copies. Then, they ask for reviews.
Let's say you get 5,000 page views (which is way higher than most campaigns will ever get, and almost double the average and median).
We could generously say 50% of those will result in nominations, so let's call it 2,500 nominations. Of those nominations, about half will actually ever bother to claim their book from Amazon, so 1,250 people claim your book.
That is quite a few less than a traditional publisher, BUT (and this is a big one) there are some MAJOR benefits Amazon works in compared to a traditional publisher.
- Copies show up as purchased copies, which trigger Also-Boughts
- Reviews can be posted before launch, which means your launch has an advantage. Also, these reviews are 'verified' which is a MUCH more important distinction than it was two weeks ago.
- Amazon is soliciting reviews, not you
Honestly, the biggest advantage is the also-bought list, because Amazon is effectively tying together Kindle Scout books to drive sales to highly engaged readers. For example, right now there is a Kindle Scout book Amazon promoted that is number 120 in the store (and has sold probably around 15,000 copies just this month). With the also-bought list, if people who nominated your book also nominated that, you can get pulled up to their list as 'books people also bought' which can drive huge sales to your book. Because these nominations result in 'purchases' it is a self-feeding thing where you can create a strong positive correlation.
The more nominations you got, the stronger your correlation, and the more likely amazon is to recommend your book to a LOT of readers without even counting the actual kindle scout promotions.
Conversely, if you don't get a lot of nominations, sure you aren't giving away some free copies (I would bet the normal KS giveaway count is more like 250-300 at most) but you also aren't building these correlations and triggering a sales rank. The trick to make your book sell long term is driving sales and building strong correlations with popular books. Amazon is doing that for you, and getting as MANY people to accept free copies through Kindle Scout as possible will seriously help your book long-term.
Going back to the verified purchase...Amazon has always considered verified reviews to be superior to non-verified, but now they are taking it a step further and actively suppressing non-verified reviews, which means having more verified will help in your book's visibility. Moreover, Amazon is working around the new ToS changes for free copies because these are technically purchased copies, despite being free.
So, reasonably unless you get something like 100,000 page views and 50,000 nominations, you can't possibly get too many to actually harm your chances of getting picked. Even then, it probably wouldn't hurt your book because your resulting rank would be so high. Amazon WANTS to give away these copies, because unless you are looking at a very very small picture, they benefit your book in every way.