Category Archives: Jordan’s Shadow

Why I’m Trying Kindle Scout, Amazon’s new publishing program

Trying Kindle Scout with my mystery suspense fantasy novel.
Jordan’s Shadow, Hot & Trending on Kindle Scout!

Wondering about trying Kindle Scout, Amazon’s new ebook publishing company? I decided to  try it with my upcoming suspense/fantasy novel, Jordan’s Shadow, and I’ll give you  my reasons why.

First,  a bit about Kindle Scout.  Amazon has started their own publishing arm for ebooks and audiobooks, called Kindle Press. You submit your manuscript and cover design  and if they accept you into the program, they create a campaign page  for you. People can browse available books, read a little about them, read a sample, and if  they like a book, they can nominate it for  publication. If you get enough nominations, it tells  Amazon you have potential  readers  and a platform, and they’ll  take a look at your book  more closely. Having a lot  of nominations does NOT guarantee they will publish you.

I’ve heard a lot of debate from my author friends as to whether this is a really good opportunity or an evil author trap. After much consideration, I decided to be bold and daring and try Kindle Scout. Here’s why:

  •  I had this novel and a cover design almost ready to publish when Amazon announced their program.
  • Amazon promises that the whole  process from the  time you submit until you get their publishing  decision will be 45 days. Thank you, Amazon! I actually recently turned down a publisher interested in Jordan’s Shadow because they took four months to read my query letter and ask for a proposal! I’ve had publishing companies of late tell me to expect a decision in one to two years! At my age, I just don’t have that kind of time anymore. But 45 days is nothing. If they say no, I can jump right back in there with my  indie publishing plan.
  • Kindle Press only purchases ebook and audiobook rights (for  a limited time).  I would still have print rights, film rights, all of that.
  • My first release (Summer’s Winter) was a disorganized mess. You’re supposed to do some kind of organized pre-publicity building up to your  launch, but it  didn’t work out that way. I figure if Amazon says no on Jordan’s Shadow, all the promo I’ve been doing to get nominations for the book will have generated a lot of pre-publication buzz and will help with sales if  I do self-publish it.
  • Amazon gives you  an advance. Actual cash money! Wow!
  • It’s kind of a weird,  new idea, this Kindle Scout  thing, but I’ve tried all the old ways to publish and sell. The publishing world is changing drastically and I’m excited about that. I’m ready to try new things!
  • If anyone knows how to market books, it’s  Amazon. If anyone can make a new idea work, it’s Amazon.
  • Yes, Amazon has had some marketing failures, too, but fortunately I’ll still  have my day job. I will still have made some money off the book, and it  will still be out there for people to buy.
  • I have heard many indie authors  say that 90 or 95% of their  book  sales come through Amazon. I  imagine most traditionally published authors these days sell most of their copies through Amazon. How cool would it be  to publish with a company that has that  kind of selling/marketing power!
  • Some have criticized that Amazon doesn’t promise it will do much promotion for Kindle Scout winners. Well,  neither do the small presses I’ve been submitting to for decades. Or the large publishing companies either, for that matter.  But I figure if Amazon gives me cash and publishes my ebook, it’s in their best interest to  at least give me  a promo or an ad here and there. And that’s better than I have from them now!
  • Someone on Facebook just criticized this program (and I assume me, for  being a part of it) as being a popularity contest, not based  on merit. Well, of course it is, at least  in the beginning.  As I said earlier, getting nominations is to show Amazon you have a platform, so Amazon will consider your book–and consider it based on merit at that point. They don’t solely determine publication based on number of nominations.
  • Every other publishing program I’m aware of is also  based on popularity in  some form–not strictly  “merit,” whatever that means exactly. Hey, writers out there–how many publishing companies have you submitted to that asked you about your “platform”? Have you ever been told by an editor that your book is absolutely amazing, but that they can’t publish it because it doesn’t  “fit” with them and they wouldn’t be able to sell it? In other words,  how popular your book  might be is more important than how brilliant it is to traditional publishers, too.

My Kindle Scout campaign runs through December 8. (And as  of  last time I  checked, Jordan’s Shadow was in the “hot and trending” category. Yay!) So, I don’t know how it will all turn out. Whether  I’ll  be accepted. And even if I am, whether I might find there are problems with it  I didn’t foresee.

Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted. (And in the meantime, if you want to nominate Jordan’s Shadow and be part of my unashamed popularity  contest, I  would be  very, very grateful!)

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How I First Published: Robin Johns Grant

First time holding a copy of my first book,  Summer's Winter.
First time holding a copy of my first book, Summer’s Winter.

This is the first in what I hope  to be a regular series of posts in which authors tell us about their first publication experience. I’m going first, experimenting on myself, as usual. If you’re a published author–indie, traditional, small press, whatever–and would like to be featured, use the Contact tab at the top of the page and let me know. You would be answering these same questions–and can plug  any current project you would like to, naturally! Your book(s) don’t have to be specifically Christian, but I won’t feature books that are offensive or contrary to a mainstream Christian worldview. Hey, it’s my blog, right?

HOW I FIRST PUBLISHED

What was your first published novel?

Summer’s Winter, which I published in January of this year. I just happen to have the tagline handy: When preacher’s daughter Jeanine meets her obsession, movie star Jamie, his dark secrets threaten her faith and her life.

I call it a love story wrapped in a mystery. When forced to choose a genre for it, I have to choose Christian romantic suspense. There is most definitely love and suspense!

Was it a traditional publishing contract or did you go indie?

After trying to land a traditional publishing contract for literally decades, I finally went indie, although I used Story Merchant Books to do the publishing work for me instead  of doing everything myself.

How did that come about?

It came at the end of an incredibly long and winding road. If you want to know more about that journey, click on the tab at the top of this page that says The Queen’s Archives. That’s my old blog, from the days I was trying so desperately to land a contract and dealing with frustration and particularly with learning to trust and wait on the Lord. This post is my announcement that I had finally decided to go Indie. I was afraid my writer friends would see me as a quitter, but they’ve been very supportive.

But I digress. As I reached one of those points in my life when I was ready to give up on the whole thing and take up knitting or quilting or almost anything other than writing, I went to a Nancy Grace book signing. Nancy is a well-known TV personality and has her own show on HLN, as well as having written two NYT best-selling suspense novels. She is also a childhood friend of mine. She asked about my writing and then, hallelujah!—she offered to help me.

Now, if I was telling any story other than my own life story, at this point Nancy would have gotten me a fat publishing contract and I, too, would be a best-selling author today. I would also have lived happily ever after. Possibly in a castle.

But this is my life story and if there’s one thing God wants to teach me, it’s patience. Nancy referred me to a man named Ken Atchity, who has worn many hats: writer, literary agent,  publicist, even film producer. He suggested major edits to the manuscript of Summer’s Winter, and then when we both thought it was in great shape, he gave me a choice. Choice one, he would represent me as a traditional literary agent. But he warned me that the traditional publishing model was getting harder and harder for a new writer to break into. I should be prepared to…guess what…WAIT. It might take a long time. Choice two, I could go ahead and get Summer’s Winter out there. Based on what he was seeing happen in the publishing world, he believed not only that indie authors can be successful these days, but also that traditional publishers get a lot of their new talent by scooping up successful indie authors. It sort of stinks, but it also makes sense from their point to sign authors who have already proved they can market their books—and write stories that people want to read.

So, I opted to go indie and see what would happen. I was just coming off an unsuccessful five-year stint with another agent and was ready to try something different.

How did this first publication make you feel? Has it been as good as you expected, or a letdown, or exhausting, for example?

All of the above! Plus just about every other emotion you can imagine. I have loved interacting with readers who enjoyed Summer’s  Winter.

 

It's a great book. Really. I swear.
It’s a great book. Really. I swear.

I’ve had really exciting times when I was receiving good reviews and selling well. Probably the most exciting thing to me was that John Granger, who writes books of literary analysis and is a Harry Potter expert, read my book, loved it, and interviewed me on his blog! What an honor that was! (I mean, hey, this man is an expert on REAL literature!)

And then there have been times like this past week, when sales and reviews have dried up and I’m incredibly frustrated again. I never would have dreamed how much time it takes to market a book. I have a full-time job as a librarian, and I feel like marketing is another full-timer. And oh yeah, I need to squeeze in family and writing more books somewhere!

When you self-publish, you can feel it’s all on your shoulders, that you’re bearing the burden alone. Fortunately I belong to a wonderful Christian marketing group called  the John 3:16 Marketing Network. Just today, they were reminding me that it’s NOT all in my hands, but in God’s. I should know that myself, but sometimes you need brothers and sisters around to remind you.

Tell us what’s happened with your writing journey since.

I finished writing my next book, Jordan’s Shadow, which is a creepy gothic young adult novel. It’s still in the hands of two traditional publishers who have shown interest, but the process is just so slow. I’m trying to decide whether to keep waiting on them or continue this indie path. It’s still up in the air right now. I also just started writing the sequel to Summer’s Winter.

 

 

 

 

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