Welcome to my ongoing series about my experience with Kindle Scout. Today I get into the most important part (at least perceived as such) of the Kindle Scout process-the CAMPAIGN.
The campaign is the 30 day period when your book is up on the Kindle Scout website, and when you are expected to reach out to everyone you think would care about your book and request them to take a look at it and if they choose to, nominate it.
Usually two days after the manuscript is submitted for review, you receive an email saying when your campaign will begin. That is the time you prepare your game plan for the campaign.
This is what the Kindle Scout FAQ suggests that you do before the campaign period begins: “Plan how you’re going to let your fans and network know that you’re putting your book up for a publishing contract. Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and email lists you have accumulated over the years are great places to start.”
What do these fans and supporters do? They view the book, read the excerpt, and then add their nomination. All they need is an Amazon account and a few minutes to do this.
How important are nominations?
This is what the FAQ says about them: “The more nominations your book receives the more likely it will get the attention of our Kindle Scout team and be selected for publication.”
So, an author’s goal during the campaign is to rack up those nominations. Fun part is: KS does not show the number of nominations a book receives. It does show a couple of other things-like a daily count of how many hours a book was “Hot and Trending” and the number of “Views” it received, broken down by the source.
As I understood, all I could do was try to reach out to as many people I knew and hope they’d be interested enough to look at my book.
Sound too easy? Well, congratulations! The marketer in you will definitely take you places. Do keep in mind, however, that the campaign lasts 30 days, a duration that tends to feel endless and tiring and like why-the-heck-did-I-get-myself-into-this?
Are you feeling jittery just thinking about reaching out? I can understand. I felt the same. I’m an introverted author, direct marketing is a hard job for me. I knew, right from the onset, that I’d need a good game plan to survive these 30 days. So I planned a multi-pronged approach to get those eyes on my book. I started with an evaluation of the tools I had at my disposal.
- Mailing list
- Personal contacts
- Blog and other social media
- Paid advertising (undecided on this)
1. Mailing list: A mailing list, as anyone with any online marketing experience will tell, is the most important online marketing tool ever. Now, a mailing list is hard to build, difficult to sustain, and tricky to handle. After years of struggling to build one, I had grown a healthy list. I knew it could be the most powerful advantage for me in the campaign phase. Problem was, I’d never approached the list meaningfully. Sure, I sent out news of a promo now and then, perhaps some information on my launch schedule. But I had no idea if the subscribers were going to root for me if I sent them a link to my campaign. And then, being that introvert I mentioned before, I was not used to asking them for things like a nomination. Would I be able to get over my fear and reach out? Yes, I had to. Even if I didn’t win a KS contract, I’d come away with a solid understanding of mailing lists. I was going to give the list a shot.
2. KBoards: Anyone who is interested in submitting a book to Kindle Scout should check out the “Kindle Scout experiences & Nomination Requests” thread on Writer’s Cafe. Currently 551 pages longs with 13754 replies, this thread is a treasure trove of information. It begins from April 2015 and if you manage to read even half of it, you’ll have a good understanding of the KS program.
Besides having a whole lot of information, this thread is also full of the friendliest authors I’ve met online. Advice, information, support-you get everything you need to survive the campaign.
And then, it is a place where you can get nominations from fellow authors. Steve Vernon, a Kindle Scout selected author himself, maintains a daily list of authors who are in need of nominations for their books.
Clearly, this thread looked like the place to be. While I’d been a lurker on Writer’s Cafe for a while, I knew it was time to get out of lurkerdom and introduce myself to the kind folks there. So, a month or so before my campaign went live, I started interacting on the board as well as learning and helping out other authors who were already running campaigns.
3. Personal contacts: This was going to be another big part of the campaign. I planned to send personal emails out to all my friends and family and announce my campaign to friends. This I hoped would bring me a good number of nominations. So, right after I submitted my book, I made a list of friends and family I could reach out to. Then I graded them depending on how much interest I thought they’d have, and divided them into three lists. My plan was to stagger these mails so my book could get a steady stream of views.
4. Blog and other social media: My blog, with a decent subscription, was also another place to announce the campaign. Since my blog posts are fed into my author account on FB and Twitter, I hoped to get some traction from there as well. And then there was my personal Facebook account to reach more friends.
Apart from these, I discovered Headtalker on KBoards. In its own words, Headtalker is a crowdspeaking platform to make your messages viral. What it does is amplify any message you might want to share on social media. To do that you’d need an account (FREE), create a campaign with a message, and then try to recruit people who are willing to share that message on their social media accounts. If you can recruit 25 people (minimum) within the set end date of the campaign, Headtalker would blast out the message on the day.
I started setting up a campaign, fine tuning the banner and the message right after I submitted the book. I also looked into similar platforms like Thunderclap and CoPromote, but Headtalker was clearly the best choice out there.
5. Paid advertising: While I kept the idea of paid advertising on my list, this was the last thing I was interested in doing. Of the paid options though, the top avenue was Facebook ads. Besides there are other services offered by promotional companies, which at the time I wasn’t aware of. All I did at the time was research the effectiveness of advertising, and since I didn’t find enough evidence to back it up, I kept in this on the back burner.
So, this in a nutshell was my game plan going into the Kindle Scout campaign. Not everything happened as planned though, some things were disappointing and some others over delivered, but more of that in the next part.
Other parts of this series listed below:
Stay tuned for more of my experience with Kindle Scout. Next up – Campaign (Part 2): The First 10 Days