Amazon Looking To The Wisdom Of Crowds To Find New Authors

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According to a Kindle Direct Publishing forum user, Amazon is quietly rolling out a way to find diamonds in the proverbial publishing rough. The unnamed project would bring a crowd approach to the acquisition of new titles using a voting system that ranks new books based on crowd favorites.

The forum posting notes that some KDP authors (essentially indie authors using the platform) have received an email describing the following program:

Authors will be asked to submit their complete, never-before-published book and cover.
After a few days, we will post the first pages of each book on a new website for readers to preview and nominate their favorites.
Books with the most nominations will be reviewed by our team for potential publication.
Should you be selected for publication you will receive benefits that include:
Guaranteed advance & competitive royalties: You will receive a guaranteed $1,500 advance and 50% royalties on net eBook revenue.
Focused formats: We acquire worldwide publication rights for eBook and audio formats in all languages. You retain all other rights, including print.
5-year renewable terms, $5,000 in royalties: If your book doesn’t earn $5,000 in royalties during your initial 5-year contract term, and any 5-year renewal term after that, you can choose to stop publishing with us.
Easy reversions: After two years, your rights in any format or language that remains unpublished, or all rights for any book that earns less than $500 in total royalties in the preceding 12-month period, can be reverted upon request – no questions asked.
Early downloads & reviews: One week prior to release date, everyone who nominated your book will receive a free, early copy to help build momentum and customer reviews.

Users are pointed here to sign up.

It’s a fascinating proposition: social media and web-savvy authors will get top billing in these contests, to be sure, but it will also surface books with underground or unformed followings as well as potentially improve the quality of indie writing as a whole. Given the low advance numbers – and those are low advances – it’s not a particularly large investment by Amazon however I suspect the royalty clause will encourage the company to put some of its marketing might behind these books. According to Nate Hoffelder at the Digital Reader, this would be a “new program” unaffiliated with KDP.

“This program will be neither KDP nor Amazon Publishing, but something new. Unfortunately the program is so new that she was unable to provide much additional information,” he wrote.

It’s interesting to note that these are ebooks only and it is similar in the way Amazon was originally supporting Prime video content. But literary purists take note: the question of whether or not these books rise to meteoric critical success might be moot when the crowds start speaking. I’ve reached out to Amazon for more details.