Amazon wants to take some of the mystery out of predicting what books will sell with its new Kindle Scout publishing program, which lets readers vote on their favourite excerpts from unreleased books to determine what does (and what doesn’t) get published. Welcome to the court to common opinion, aspiring authors.
In exchange for their participation in the program, Kindle Scout users will get free book credits, based on their ability to successfully pick winners. Those who nominate books that eventually get published will get a free Kindle version of the e-book a full week before publication day.
Readers will determine which books rise to the top of the voting pool, but a dedicated Kindle Scout team will have the final say, choosing from a selection of the most popular titles after a 30-day open voting period to determine which ones get the final publication nod. The whole process takes only 45 days or less, from author submission to publication, Amazon says.
Amazon has a potentially industry-changing idea on its hands here with Kindle Scout, as the system provides a way to give books a stamp of approval that can cut out the noise and sheer volume of self-published titles out there, and yet it manages to provide a better deal to authors than most big publishing house deals, including a 5-year term on publishing rights granted to Kindle Press, a $1,500 advance, 50% royalties paid on e-book sales, built-in Amazon.com marketing and what Amazon terms “easy rights reversion.” Submissions are open to anyone, too.
Readers can nominate up to three books at once, meaning they can’t just spread their bets across the field willy-nilly in order to pick up as many free e-books as possible, and new books are added to the pool every single day.
The system resembles a more competition-focused version of social reading startup Wattpad in some ways, but this is very much commerce driven, whereas Wattpad is about providing a free publishing platform for entire works first, and only recently started dabbling in crowdsourcing with its crowdfunding book publishing experiments. Kindle Scout has much more potential to attract professional and semi-pro writers as well as amateurs and those just starting out, however, and the final potential business benefits are much more tangible.
This could also attract some writers who might otherwise turn to Indiegogo or Kickstarter to seek funding, but those eager to retain full rights control might still favor going it alone.