Amazon’s Kindle Scout Publishing Program

Image from ShutterStock

Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE SCOUT

Most authors know that you can self-publish with Amazon using Kindle Direct Publishing or CreateSpace.

But not everyone knows that you can also land a contract with Amazon’s Kindle Scout publishing program.

If your book gets published through Kindle Scout, it’s published, not self-published. But it’s not the label that matters. (Right?)

You have better odds with Kindle Scout compared to many other forms of traditional publishing.

  • You need a complete, edited, ready-to-publish, never-before-published professional manuscript. That already limits the pool. You’re not pitching an idea or a rough draft. It needs to be complete, professional, and ready to go. Most authors who reach that stage are eager to press the self-publish button. Less competition gives you better odds.
  • You don’t need an agent for Kindle Scout. You don’t have to buy an expensive book listing addresses of publishers. You don’t have to write a query letter and make a self-addressed stamped envelope. Yet still it’s much less competitive.
  • It’s reader-powered publishing. It’s not one editor with a room filled with manuscripts deciding what deserves to get published. The Kindle Scout team does get involved, but readers play a strong role.

Better odds still isn’t a guarantee. But what’s there to lose? The worst that can happen is that your book doesn’t get published. The campaign only lasts 30 days, so it’s relatively quick decision.

Whether or not you land a publishing deal with Kindle Scout, there is still much to gain from the process:

  • First of all, they’re looking for polished, edited, complete manuscripts. This motivates you to go the extra distance to polish your work. That will pay off whether or not your book gets chosen.
  • The program motivates you to think about marketing. A good cover improves your chances of creating reader interest, and it will help you even if you wind up self-publishing. You want to create reader interest in your Kindle Scout submission, which encourages you to learn and practice some basic marketing skills to help create buzz for your book—helpful no matter how you publish.
  • Your submission itself can create reader interest. Readers check out Kindle Scout and nominate books that catch their interest. They have an incentive as they can get free books from their nominations. So whether or not you get published through Kindle Scout, your nomination can help build an initial audience for your book.

Here is an example: The Garden of Hestia by Ellen Larson. You can explore the Kindle Scout page for this book by clicking on the thumbnail below.

Click to view this title at Kindle Scout.

Why try Kindle Scout?

  • The $1500 advance is compelling. Many self-published authors earn far less. For an author who doesn’t already tend to earn more than this, this advance is attractive.
  • Although the royalty rate of 50% is less than the 70% you can earn through Kindle Direct Publishing, there are benefits to offset this difference. For one, you would be published, not self-published. For another, if they are paying a $1500 advance, they must expect Kindle Scout titles to sell pretty well.
  • Your book would have the Kindle Press label in the publishing field. Kindle Scout seeks polished work, which gives some value to the Kindle Press label.
  • Visit the Kindle Scout page, scroll to the bottom, and check out books that have been published through Kindle Scout. Or better yet, visit Amazon, choose the Kindle Store, and click on Advanced Search. Type Kindle Press in the publisher field. I found several books with numerous customer reviews and overall sales ranks below 10,000. Not every book was like this, but enough were to show me that books published through Kindle Scout have strong potential.
  • It’s different from traditional publishing in that it’s Kindle focused. It’s not bookstore oriented; it’s not print oriented at all. You can self-publish the print edition with CreateSpace even while the Kindle edition is published with Kindle Press. Many novels sell far more in Kindle than print anyway, and what better way to reach the Kindle market than through one of Amazon’s own publishing programs?

As a reader, have you checked out Kindle Scout? Have you nominated any books? Have you read any books from Kindle Press?

As an author, have you submitted to Kindle Scout? Was your book accepted? How was your experience?

If I ever finish my sci-fi novel, I might submit it to Kindle Scout. It looks attractive.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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Where are all the Children’s Books?

Image from ShutterStock

Image from ShutterStock

THE CHILDREN’S MARKET

There are currently 1,314,394 books listed on Amazon.com in children’s.

Over a million children’s books. At first, that sounds like a lot. But it’s really not so much.

  • There are 28,000,000 paperbacks listed on Amazon, but only 700,000 of these are children’s books. That’s a mere 2.5%.
  • There are 9,000,000 hardcover books; 300,000 are children’s books. 3.3%.
  • There are 3,300,000 e-books listed in the Kindle Store; 230,000 of these are children’s. That’s nearly 7%.
  • There are 900,000 Kindle Unlimited e-books; 89,000 of these are children’s. 10%.

Let’s look at the 230,000 Kindle children’s e-books, for example:

  • 82,000 are classified under literature and fiction. That’s about one-third. That leaves only 150,000 for the other categories.
  • 34,000 are sci-fi and fantasy.
  • 32,000 are in animals. (Most of these also appear in a second category.)
  • 32,000 relate to growing up and the facts of life.
  • 26,000 are action and adventure.
  • 14,500 are fairy tales.

Maybe it’s more instructive to look at what’s missing:

  • Just 1167 are categorized as humor. It seems like there should be more competition here.
  • Just 7788 are under science and nature, which covers many subcategories.
  • Just 7265 fall under education and reference, and 3000 of those are foreign language. A mere 587 of these are math books.
  • Just 3460 are classified as early learning, like basic concepts and beginning readers.
  • Just 3285 cover history.

If you try searching for keywords on Amazon, the holes are even more apparent. The following searches were done under children’s books in the Kindle Store.

  • 524 matches show up for Common Core, the new national curriculum (adopted by most states). This curriculum teaches skills differently than the current generation of parents learned the material. Thus, many parents are looking for resources to help. But there are few books on it. Many of the top matches don’t seem like they would help directly with it. There are only 61 results for Common Core math, and that 61 gets divided into a host of different topics within math.
  • 26 matches show up for homophones, and many of those aren’t focused on this topic.
  • 57 matches show up for writing prompts. None of the covers on page 1 seems geared toward kids. (To be fair, there are some better matches in paperbacks. Basically, the same book could be published in both print and Kindle, just including blank lines for composition in the print edition.)
  • 150 matches show up for recycling. Isn’t green the big thing? Where are the books?
  • If you publish poetry for kids, you get lost in a sea of 4500 other children’s poetry books. But if you write one of every kind of poem you can think of to introduce kids to the different kinds of poems, and present this as a form of learning or teaching poetry, you suddenly narrowed your market tremendously. Only 66 are listed under teaching poetry.
  • Similarly, there are 11,000 matches for short stories, but only 190 matches for reading comprehension. If you take your children’s short story collection and add multiple choice (for example) questions after each story, with an answer key in the back, suddenly your collection becomes dual purpose, with possibly better exposure in the second niche market.

CRACKING THE CHILDREN’S MARKET

My daughter often demands a certain kind of book, and when I search for it, there are very few matches. This happens quite frequently.

And when I try to narrow the results by clicking on the Kindle Unlimited filter, there are sometimes just a few to choose from.

Part of the children’s market is saturated, but there are also many opportunities.

The trick is to search for books within the children’s market to find popular search results and popular topics for which there aren’t many search results, or, as is often the case, where most of the top matches don’t seem too relevant to the search. Don’t just look at how many books are in the category, but also look at sales ranks of the top matches and how many books show up under particular keyword combinations.

The children’s market isn’t easy to crack, but there is much long-term potential for those who break through.

Although there are many challenges, there are ways to help overcome them:

  • There are some highly popular brands like Dr. Seuss, Disney, and Scholastic, and popular characters like Dora, Spongebob, and Barbie. But many of these get filtered out customers search specifically for Kindle Unlimited books (and there is a filter, i.e. a simple link that you can press, when shopping to see just Kindle Unlimited results). And as you publish more books, you begin to develop your own brand. Not everyone prefers the most popular brands.
  • Many parents prefer print books and many children’s authors find the most success with print. But there is still a significant number of parents who let their kids spend some time on Kindle, and there is much less competition in Kindle, and even less in Kindle Unlimited. The wise course is to publish both print and e-book editions to help reach both markets.
  • Editing is arguably more important in the children’s market as parents and teachers are the ones buying the books. Since children are learning to read, or learning to read at a higher level, naturally parents and teachers want to ensure that children are learning to read well, which means that the book must be virtually free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. On the other hand, children’s books are often shorter and easier to read, which makes the editing easier to manage.
  • Your newly published book won’t show up at the top of search results, but if you first research the children’s market well, you can publish in a niche that is both in demand and has limited competition, and a wise choice of keywords will help with exposure. For example, there are nearly 14,000 children’s books in romance and 2900 in vampires, but only 393 in vampire romance. (I’m not saying this is a wise topic for children’s books; I’m just illustrating how to choose keywords wisely.) You want keywords specific to your book (usually, consisting of 2 or more words between commas, as single-word keywords tend to pull up way too many results; but you will want a couple of highly relevant single-word keywords in the mix, too), which are popular searches on Amazon. Just visit Amazon, browse children’s books, and start typing keywords to gauge which ones are popular enough to be searched for. You can always change your keywords at any time.
  • The real keys are writing several similar books, publishing quality content that parents will want their kids to read, and learning effective marketing strategies. Involve parents and educators in the developmental stages, running ideas by teachers at various stages and recruiting parents as beta readers. This will not only better help you understand your audience’s specific and possibly diverse needs, but it will also help you with word-of-mouth marketing when you involve people personally and take some of their advice. Personal interactions can have a powerful influence: You want to meet parents, librarians, and educators in person and let them discover your book and your passion for it.

Amazon KDP has a new free tool to help with formatting children’s books for Kindle:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/how-to-use-the-new-kindle-kids-book-creator-tutorial

SURVEY

If you haven’t already done so, please participate in a survey on how people read books. The more participation we get, the more meaningful the results will be.

Here is one question, for your convenience. (If you’ve already answered this before, please don’t answer it a second time.)

You can find more questions here:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/surveys

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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