Guest author: Jacqueline Ward – My Adventures with Kindle Scout

It’s great to welcome Jacqueline Ward back to the blog again today to share her experiences of having a novel published with Kindle Scout…

The beginning of 2016 brought me a writing dilemma. I had a speculative fiction novel, SmartYellowTM, published in 2015, but my first crime novel, Random Acts of Unkindness hadn’t sold. Yet I still believed in the story and the characters, particularly Bessie Swaine. I was looking for more opportunities to submit when I came across Kindle Scout.

What is Kindle Scout?

Kindle Scout is the submission process for books that are published by the Amazon imprint Kindle Press. Authors are able to submit their short synopsis, cover and full manuscript, then the initial chapters are put on the Kindle Scout website as a campaign. The author then promotes the campaign through social networking for thirty days, eliciting as many nominations as possible. The aim is to get and keep their novel in the ‘Hot and Trending’ category on the site. At the end of thirty days if your novel is chosen, it’s published by Kindle Press. If not, all the people who nominated receive and email notifying them should you choose to self-publish with Amazon.

My Campaign – Winning Kindle Scout

At the end of a hard thirty days the campaign ended. I spent about 260 hours in hot and trending and had 1.6k views of my novel. Ten days later, on April 21st 2016 I found out that Random Acts of Unkindness had been chosen for publication. I was asked to submit a polished version for editing, which is done by Kirkus in the US. It was published by Amazon digitally on June 21st 2016.

What’s the deal?

Kindle Press pays authors $1500 up front and 50% of sales, after the advance is earned back, paid monthly. They provide line and copy edits and promotions. They acquire audio and digital rights, while the author retains print, film and TV rights. I decided to publish print versions in paperback and hardback with Ingram Spark and that has worked well and supported digital sales. The people who have nominated receive a free review copy of the novel direct from Kindle Scout.

Being Published by Kindle Press – is it worth it?

I wasn’t sure what being published with Kindle Press would be like. I soon found out. My book was released worldwide on Amazon’s sites and was soon shooting up the UK and US Amazon charts. I received notifications from Amazon telling me that my book would receive various promotions, and watched in awe as it sold a lot of copies. Kindle Press are primarily an American company and Random Acts of Unkindness was initially very successful in the US Amazon charts. Two months after release they undertook a promotional campaign in the UK and my novel became a bestselling crime thriller.

Six months later…

Sales have levelled out but are constant and in January another promotion will begin in the US. I had a sequel almost ready and I was invited to submit it direct to Kindle Press and I am very pleased that Playlist for a Paper Angel, the second in the DS Jan Pearce series, will be published in January 2017.

What have I learned?

The biggest lesson is that, apart from established household name authors, it is promotion and visibility that gets books high in the Amazon rankings. At one time I would have thought that a novel had some kind of magic quality that propelled it, but now I watch them rise and think ‘Kindle Fire Deal’ or ‘Bookbub’.

Things to think about if you are considering a Kindle Scout Campaign

  • Make sure your novel is finished and polished
  • Have a professional cover – it really does matter on Kindle Scout
  • Nominations are important but the quality of the novel gets the deal
  • Thirty days is a long time – be prepared for the long haul
  • Make a comprehensive social networking strategy beforehand
  • Research what other campaigners have done – read the whole of this thread
  • If your novel is chosen publication is quick – usually within a few months

Would I do it again?

Yes! The campaign is hard work, producing a print version was a steep learning curve, learning to promote took me outside my comfort zone, but in the end people read and loved (and a few hated!) my work.  One person reviewed, ‘From time to time you come across a book that you can’t wait to come back to and finish reading – this is one of those.’ I know what that’s like and that’s what I wanted for Jan and Bessie. With the help of Kindle Press I was able to make someone feel like that. It’s a dream come true.

More about the Kindle Scout Process on my blog


Thanks for coming, Jacqui and sharing your experience. It sounds like a great way of getting your book to readers. Jacqui first visited the blog about a year ago for the Year of Indie Debuts series when her novel SmartYellow came out. You can read the interview with her here.

Year of Indie Debuts: Smart Yellow

This week’s indie debut is SmartYellowTM by J.A. Christy, published by Elsewhen Press. This speculative novel feels all too real and made me contemplate once again about how our society judges and segregates people, but perhaps most scarily of all how easily we could all end up like the main character, Katrina, does when her life takes an unexpected turn.

Most people think of speculative fiction as being a future that could happen but SmartYellow for me is very close to a present that we are already living in. Can you tell us what inspired this story and when you started writing it?
I was inspired initially by a TV program starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, just by one line that mentioned living and surviving. I live in Manchester and there had been rioting on the streets while I was writing SmartYellow in 2011 and it made me think how some people were not really living a life, for various reasons, and were just surviving. I’ve always been interested in thought experiments such as Schrodinger’s Cat and the question of decoherence in physics, and these both appear in SmartYellow in unexpected ways.

In terms of speculative fiction, I think SmartYellow is only perhaps one step removed from the world we live in today. There are elements of science fiction in the smart technology and and a speculative take on social order, but it wouldn’t take too much imagination to work out how close the residents of Hill Farm are to people who, in real life, find themselves with very few options in life. The novel takes this another step towards an Orwellian world of social control.

The main character Katrina is well educated, smart and comes from a relatively well-off background but has ended up in a ghetto – how do you feel that at the time your novel is coming out there are similar situations happening all over the UK due to serious housing issues, austerity measures and media-engendered fear and animosity towards people that actually need help rather than condemnation?
Thank you for asking this question because it gets right down to the premise of the novel. Kat suffers because she has unintentionally strayed from the prescribed path her parents chose for her, finding herself on a tough social housing estate with people she is afraid of. Initially it seems like the people she is living around are not helping themselves, but as the story progresses Kat realises that there are complex issues at play and the residents of Hill Farm are not all there voluntarily but are marked out by their ‘social status’ – and this is irreversible.

A smaller role is played by two academics who, initially with good intentions, design a program to help those who are deemed ‘problem cases’, but this is passed to a right wing government and twisted into a tool to dominate the very people the academics were trying to help.

I feel very strongly about social justice and I hope that SmartYellow provides an only slightly speculative metaphor for the reality for people who, for whatever reason, find themselves forced into poverty so that they can only just survive. Kat’s journey mirrors the journey of many people in Britain today, and her gradual realisation that the people she fears are in turn afraid leads her to the key to what is actually happening not only on Hill Farm, but all over the UK. In SmartYellow world, of course – or is it?

The situation in the UK has worsened since I began to write SmartYellow with more political movement towards austerity and the consequent suffering. I can’t help but think that some of the hard-hitting measures, presented as cruel-to-be-kind social programs to improve lives, simply do not take into account the vicious circle of complex social problems people find themselves in, through no fault of their own and with no way out.

Which writers have influenced your work?
My work is heavily influenced by Margaret Atwood and Scarlett Thomas. I read across many genres and have taken elements from crime as well as speculative fiction for SmartYellow. I enjoyed Jeff Noon’s novels very much, and his gritty urban style, along with many novels with a hard crime edge. There is a definite speculative strand running through my reading, starting with Alan Garner’s Weirdstone of Brisingamen through Tolkien, Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman and many other authors in between.

What are you reading now?
I’ve just read Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, which I thought was excellent, and I’m currently reading All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Teows and I’m enjoying it very much as well as Scarlet Thomas’ The Seed Collectors.

What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished a crime novel, which I am now working on with my agent, and I’m about to start a second speculative fiction novel, a follow up to SmartYellow. I’m also working on developing a crime story screenplay as I recently completed screenwriting training.


Thanks to Jacqui for telling us about her way into this story. It really is a great read and very excited to hear there will be a follow-up! It’s been released as an ebook this month and the paperback comes out in November 2015. You can connect with Jacqui on Twitter to keep up-to-date with more of her writing news.

Tell us below what you think of the ideas raised in the novel and how you think they reflect the world we’re already living in; and which other good speculative novels you’ve read lately.

And keep an eye out for the next book in the indie debuts series – Alcina Faraday’s Beauty, Love and Justice. The author interview will be on the blog next week.