I’ve been meaning to capture my experience with Kindle Scout ever since I started planning to enter my book. But for one reason or another, it never got done. Now that the KS adventure has come to a happy conclusion, I have decided to shake off the laziness and complete the task.
This will be a series of posts, starting with the preparation stage to submission to running the campaign and so forth. Today’s stop: Preparation.
My interest in Kindle Scout was piqued when I first heard about it in late 2014. Back then, I only had little content and there was nothing I could spare for KS. I shelved the plan for the time, but the wish stayed alive deep down somewhere. Come 2015, I made a plan. I would write a book based on the extended world of the Lightbound Saga series and it would be sort of a thriller. I would use a rotating point of view and selected or not, it would be a fun exercise. Little did I know what was coming my way.
So, let’s get to the very beginning. Like every other book I write, I started off with a mock book cover. Since the story would be about this mysterious assassin, I decided on a cloaked figure and of course I had to choose my favorite color scheme-blue and white with a dash of red. You can see my first draft cover up top-left, that’s where the book started.
I intended the story to be based on an assassin school, and the main character was going to be a man with a past. Enter Steffen Pere, Master Assassin. Steffen has reached the pinnacle of his career and he has committed innumerable acts of violence to get here. But he wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, he was a regular guy, a lovable man with a family he adored. He has drifted far from that person he used to be, but as the story unfolds, he comes to question his future. Is he happy being an assassin or would he jump at the possibility of a fresh start?
That was as much of an outline I started with, the rest was going to be pants-ed. I began writing Steffen’s POV chapters, and while I did that, I started thinking of the bigger picture-namely the world Steffen lives in and the motivations that drive the man. I knew he had to live in an authoritarian society, and for some reason, a theocracy popped into my mind. I resisted the idea because I didn’t want to get into religion, like at all, but the premise didn’t budge. The story kind of got itself written, characters like crazy old cat-lady and hacker supreme Bryanna joined the fray and I knew this book was going to be very different. Even special maybe.
Near the end of 2015, I had quite a few chapters written and it was time to get some feedback. This story was too experimental and I was not venturing farther than this unless I was sure it was working. I mailed the first chapters of The Eternity Prophecy to my soundest sounding board and the best thing that my writing venture has gifted me, my friend and beta-reader, Diana. Email sent, I waited, fingers crossed, hoping she’d enjoy what I’d written so far. A few days later D wrote back-she had loved it.
It was only a haze of writing from there on. By mid-2016, the manuscript was complete. I was more than happy with the story, but there was a problem. A BIG problem. You see, KS only accepts manuscripts that are 50,000 words or longer and The Eternity Prophecy was only around 45,000 after edits. The story was sharp, it had few words that could be called superfluous and I loved it for that. I didn’t want to dull it by injecting unnecessary words.
So what else could I do? I could always write another story. But finding time to write a standalone book is hard for me and I didn’t want to put one book of a series into Kindle Scout and lose marketing control over it. I was in a fix.
Enter my editor ninja, Allison.
On hearing the issue, she went over my manuscript one more time after the usual edit and revision cycle was complete, scanning it with a fine-toothed comb, looking for areas that could use some additions without turning ugly. A touch of backstory here, a deeper dive into a character there … over and over we went.
I had targeted November 2016 for submission, but as I entered October, I was still a few thousand words short. What could I do now? Any further additions and my manuscript could be mutilated. I was not willing to risk doing that to my story just so it could enter Kindle Scout.
What’s a girl to do? Once again, I went back to D. And once again, she saved me. Her feedback was simple-she didn’t think the last chapter had the kind of oomph the story demanded. I agreed, not just because I mostly agree with her, or because I needed to add words, but because she hit the nail on the head. The moment I finished the new last chapter, Resurrection, I knew it was the worthy conclusion of a worthy story. I had written about a 1000 words in less than 30 minutes (fast by my standards) and literally had tears in my eyes when I finished editing it. Off it went to D and you can guess what she said. Yes, she was happy.
I was happy also. I was finally over 50,000 words.
While I was jousting with words, I had also been fiddling with covers. By this time, I had fallen out of love with the cover I had designed a year ago. It seemed dull now and not fitting the genre. I thought the book needed something more spectacular, with arresting colors and something that would at once announce science fiction and mystery.
Off I went, scouring the stock sites for images, and after a month of trial and error, had three covers prepped and ready. My critique group was my lifeline on this one. They voted, and the votes were overwhelmingly in favor of what became the final cover, with some suggestions for improvement.
On October 31, 2016, I was finally ready.
Well, no, not really. I still had to work on the Kindle Scout requirements of the tagline, the blurb, the author questions, and the note of thanks. Have to admit, they were not easy to write. As any writer knows, making an effective statement within a strict constraint of a few hundred words is tough, so these were tough as well. But, a week or so later, I was indeed ready to submit.
On November 15, 2016, I uploaded everything on Kindle Scout and stared at the “Submit” button. Sure I had published before, but this was different. This experience was going to be very, very public. I knew there would be a lot of disappointment if the book wasn’t selected and the chances of being selected were low (3% or so).
I could fail. Sure. Maybe. But I was going to be brave and try no matter what.
So, I wished myself luck and I wished Steffen and Bryanna luck, and pressed “Submit.”
Stay tuned for more of my experience with Kindle Scout. A million thanks to my ninja team for this part of the project-Diana and Allison.