I wanted to talk a little bit about how I came to the decision to submit my debut novel, BROKEN BLUE, to Kindle Scout.
In 2014, I typed the words 'The End' on the first draft of BROKEN BLUE. This was my fourth attempt at writing a novel. As for the other three, well, let's just say I was cutting my writer-teeth on them. I still love the concepts of each and every one of them, but there was always something amiss — the voice didn't fit on the two middle-grade stories, and the other young-adult novel that I had written was OK, but it was just that - OK, not outstanding, not unique enough to warrant the conviction that I would later need while pitching to literary agents.
So, there I was at the beginning of 2014 with this finished fourth novel and the whole time I was plotting, writing, re-writing and daydreaming about it whilst at work, I loved every little bit of it. I was so eager to send it off to agents that I made a list of agents that I thought would like my work and started submitting the first few chapter the very next day.
It took a few weeks for the first handful of replies to come back to me. There were four standard rejection emails and one agent who asked to see the rest of it. I was so excited I didn't know what to do with myself. I spoke endlessly about the process to family, friends and colleagues who were clearly listening out of politeness and not because they were that interested in the publishing world or wanted to know anything at all about it for that matter. I'm still very grateful to them for pretending to listen, regardless.
I sent the rest of BROKEN BLUE to the agent, and she came back to me a week later with some nice comments, but for all her lovely comments she ultimately rejected the story. I was gutted. It isn't very often that agents give feedback, but in this case, she did. Bottom line, the structure was off. I didn't know what to do about it. I didn't have anyone to turn to for advice, and I didn't want to send it out to more agents as you tend to only get one shot per story with any agent. I had a choice to make — get help, or aimlessly meander through further edits with no real idea of what needed fixing, or how to fix it.
After a few weeks of rifling through hundreds of blogs, self-help books for writers, and begging experienced authors on Twitter for advice, I finally found a writer on Twitter that understood where I was coming from. They advised me to submit my story to the Golden Egg Academy (GEA). At the time, the GEA was a young company, but reading their website they looked to have a wealth of knowledge and experience and some very talented editors. So, I did it. I submitted to them, and a few days later, they accepted my manuscript.
For the next three years at the GEA I learned from some of the best editors in publishing. I learned how to properly structure my story, how important an author’s writing voice is, how to use action and dramatic tension and really getting to know my characters like I knew my family. Eventually, by the beginning of 2017, I had graduated from the GEA with a story I was really proud of and vastly improved writing skills. I was ready to send BROKEN BLUE out to agents again.
Unfortunately for me, the U.K. publishing market had moved on, and many agents that I queried said good things about the story - they liked my writing style, they liked the concept, the characters, how atmospheric the story was, but the YA market had taken a turn for the worse and my sub-genre was not currently in demand. Strangely enough I didn't feel as bad about BROKEN BLUE not being taken on the second time around. I had been learning about the publishing industry for years at that point, and I knew well enough that YA would have its day again, so I began writing my next story and put BROKEN BLUE in the digital drawer.
Last week, in the middle of writing a new chapter of my work-in-progress, it suddenly hit me that I had not exhausted all of my publishing options with BROKEN BLUE. All I needed was the bravery to pursue it. Self-Publishing should not be a snap decision. It is hard. You are on your own and much advice and planning is needed before hitting that publish button. Marketing strategies needs to be thought through, the book needs to be copy-edited, at the very least, and a professional looking cover is needed. Some of these things aren't cheap and there are loads of options out there, so I needed to ask advice from people that had been there and done that.
Even after planning my self-publishing strategy I know there will be issues that I haven't thought of, but these things will probably come out with time and experience. I chose to submit to Kindle Scout for two reasons. The first reason is that it was recommended to me by a fellow GEA graduate, and secondly, I think that it would be a great experience if BROKEN BLUE is selected, as I will get to see a side of e-publishing that I haven't seen before while I have some support from Kindle Press with marketing. Marketing is also hard!
Being selected by the Kindle scout team for publication depends on lots of factors. They need to like the concept and the writing, but they will also need to consider if it is something they can promote and sell well (is it the right time for this novel? Do they need another book in this genre at the moment? etc.), just like traditional publishers.
So, with 20 days to go on my Kindle Scout campaign, I have hit the hot & trending list for 114 hours out of 216, not too bad for its first ten days. I've heard that a slump comes in the middle of most Kindle Scout campaigns so I'm trying not to obsess over it. I'm now down to checking my stats only a few hundred times a day...
I want to thank everyone who has nominated BROKEN BLUE so far. Your support has been incredible and much more than I hoped for. My 30-day campaign with Kindle Scout ends on the 6th of October. If BROKEN BLUE is selected by the Kindle Scout team or if they choose not to go with it, it will be e-published on Amazon for Kindle toward the end of the year. Fingers crossed that you guys love it as much as I do!