So, I've finished my Kindle Scout campaign. My campaign ran from April 22nd until May 21st, 2017, and now I'm in the nebulous waiting period that can last anywhere from 1 day to 15 days. They will email me to let me know if I'm selected, and if I am, we work through their process and their timelines (generally, their program literature says I'll have about 30 days to spruce things up, then my book goes live, and the nominees get their free copies, and get prompted to review the book to increase visibility, and they'll use a few little promotional tools on my behalf, and they own the rights to my book for a certain period of time, with specific options for renewal, reversion, and things of that nature).
If I'm not selected, I still have the option to launch the book independently, I just won't get the advance, or the Amazon editing process, etc. If I launch the book independently, I retain all rights and can just advertise the book myself, as an independent author. If I choose to do this, Amazon seems to offer the ability to at least let my nominators know that the book has been released independently, which is nice.
Sitting here at the end of 30 days, I have a few things in the "if I had it to do over again" column I wanted to share, in case anyone else is thinking of doing Kindle Scout as well:
1) It's important to be Hot & Trending, as it increases your visibility, as well as your credibility to casual observers. It seems that relatively unknown authors, like me, are more likely to be Hot & Trending at the very beginning of their campaigns, and at the very end. This is because of the "Recently Added" and "Ending Soon" promo bars on which you can be featured during those timeframes. After that, getting and staying Hot & Trending is very challenging.
2) In light of this information, I would have picked a launch day where the beginning and the end of my 30 day campaign would land on a Tuesday/Wednesday. My campaign began on a Saturday and ended on a Sunday. Frankly, not many people are cavorting the Internet over the weekend. My clicks from Facebook were down those days, as were the organic Kindle Scout clicks. Based on my Campaign Views dashboard, regardless of when I posted on social media, my highest traffic days were usually Tuesdays or Wednesdays, with the exception of the very beginning and very end of my campaign, where activity spiked.
NOTE: Part of this is how nominations work. Users can only have 3 nominations active at a time. Your friends and family will probably only nominate you, so they will just set it and forget it right at the beginning of your campaign. Kindle Scout followers are more likely to Save your book, then nominate you during your final days, so they can maximize the number of nominations (and potential free books) and not have your book taking up a slot for the book's entire 30 day campaign.
3) Also in light of this information, I would have staggered my roll-out. I posted so that all of my Facebook friends (which was my biggest source of traffic) jumped on at once. This was great for the first five days of my campaign, but then things tapered off until the last 3 days. I think a better strategy for someone else doing this would be setting the Privacy settings on the Facebook posts so that you post only to 1/4 of your friends at the beginning of the campaign, then add friends to the posts as your campaign goes on so in week 2, 1/2 of your friends are seeing the posts, then 3/4 in week 3, then all of them in week 4.
This would be easy enough to do on Facebook - plus you could group it so that your most supportive friends see the posts first, and can do what they do best. Then, your more distant friends could be in later groups, sparing them spam until the end of the campaign. This would make your campaign traffic a little more consistent throughout the campaign - you'd (hopefully) get new nominations and new, fresh page views each week, from people who didn't know about it before.
4) I would also suggest networking actively with the other authors who are doing Kindle Scout. It's no time to be shy - if you like their book, reach out, and offer to cross-promote. I wouldn't suggest doing this if you don't like the author's book to begin with. But, for those you peruse and like, you have access to their campaign pages, where they link to their Facebook and author pages. So, make contact, and discuss some exchanges. The worst they can do is say "no." I did not do very much of this, because I am currently at a level where I don't have much to offer in exchange - my author page has limited followers, and I don't have a solid base of readers yet, but once I've grown a bit, I'd definitely do this in a heartbeat.
If you're thinking of doing Kindle Scout for yourself, I hope you'll find these ideas useful. If you've done Kindle Scout and have anything to add, feel free to chime in.