Amazon has been using reader feedback to find and publish new titles via Kindle Press, using the Kindle Scout program it introduced back in October of last year. The Scout platform uses votes from readers to select what books get published, and those which receive the most favorable response are provided 5-year renewable contracts for digital publication rights, $1,500 advance and 50 percent royalties on ebook sales, as well as easy rights reversion for more author control according to Amazon.
Already, Amazon has greenlighted 21 titles using the reader-powered platform, but the first 10 titles will be published on March 3, with pre-orders beginning today. The selection of inaugural works includes a range of genres, including romance, mystery, science fiction and thriller novels, from ten different authors. To be selected, the books all had to go through the gauntlet of the Scout selection process, which includes review of 9 excerpts from the manuscript, then a decision-making process from the Scout team that generally spans only a month from initial submission to final approval. Nominating parties (i.e. those readers doing the crowdsourced work) receive free books based on the success of their nominations, and one Scout has actually received 10 free books for picking a high percentage of winners.
For authors, there’s somewhat of a guarantee that helps provide reassurance Amazon will do its best to actually sell the book once it’s published: If a title doesn’t earn its author at least $25,000 over a five-year period, they can request that their digital publishing rights revert so they can try to take their business elsewhere.
March 3 should provide a better sense of how well the program is working in terms of actually highlighting quality content – the value of a crowdsourced publishing program only exists insofar as it can pick winners better than traditional systems, or generate better reception that straight-up self publishing.