Local Writer Scouts Amazon Scout

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Everyone knows Amazon sells more than books. Lots of people check with Amazon before they buy anything, from electronics to running shoes to disposable mouth guards. And even if they don’t end up clicking the buy button, chances are they checked out the reviews of the product they were considering. 

Some products have thousands of reviews; others have none. Both are telling. 

Amazon has not only revolutionized online shopping, but it’s turned the publishing industry on its ear. Anyone who can download a file can also publish a book, which can be unsettling for the book buyers. Amazon is actually making those book buyers into publishers in a sense, or at least board members of the publishing empire, although it takes a lot of book buyers to count as one vote. 

Introduced just over a year ago, Amazon Scout lets readers weigh in on the books they want to see published. Authors submit complete manuscripts that are professionally edited along with eye-catching book covers, and Amazon Scout chooses which are suitable for campaigning. Once selected for the Kindle Scout campaign, authors have 30 days to get votes, or “nominations,” for their books. Anyone with an Amazon account can vote, but they can only vote for three books during the 30-day period. If a book they nominated wins, everyone who voted for it gets a free copy. 

Intensely selective, Amazon Scout has only published 100 books in the past 17 months. 

Ferris Robinson, the editor of The Lookout Mountain Mirror and The Signal Mountain Mirror, hopes that the odds are in her favor. She decided to submit her debut novel, “Making Arrangements,” to Kindle Scout last week, despite having procured an agent previously. 

“I had a wonderful agent, but she left the publishing industry before she sold my book. (I prefer not to think that dealing with me and my novel were the last straws in her career.) I put my novel away for a couple of years, then after some encouragement from a friend, I rewrote it.” Ferris considered trying to procure another literary agent, but decided to investigate Kindle Scout. “It’s so quick! I found out within two days of submission that “Making Arrangements” was live, so I am scrambling around trying to get folks to vote! I am mortified at how aggressive I am, but if my novel is chosen for publication, everyone who nominated it will get a free copy. So I console myself with that somewhat,” she said. 

Her novel is set outside of Chattanooga, in the fictional town of Barrington, which may be vaguely familiar to Chattanooga residents. Characters in “Making Arrangements” include a little stray dog that leaves masses of soft white fur everywhere, a grammar-butchering fashion plate, and a heavy-hipped protagonist who has her fit husband on a pedestal. 

Against all odds, cancer survivor Lang Ellis is celebrating the one-year anniversary of her “death sentence” when her beloved husband drops dead on the tennis court.  Devoted to him, she reels from the loss, focusing on her precious granddaughter but struggling with her bossy only child, Tommy, and his aloof girlfriend, Sarah. 

With her beloved family home in jeopardy, Lang realizes her husband wasn’t as perfect as she thought.  The secret he carried to his grave can ruin her life.  If she lets it.

The campaign for “Making Arrangements” runs through April 9, and you can read the first few chapters and nominate it at https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/2NIJJ1MPR9C62. There is also a link at Ferris Robinson’s website at www.ferrisrobinson.com, where you will find the book’s characters have all been active on Pinterest. 

(“Dogs and Love – Stories of Fidelity” by Ferris Robinson has 90 reviews on Amazon.)

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