Today I discovered the Kindle Scout program, a system which allows amateur readers to read amateur works and decide which e-books are potentially publishable. This is not exactly how the system is described, but that’s exactly what it is. For the official description of “reader-powered” publishing, click here.
I sampled a couple of the books available and they were not worth recommending, but the Kindle Scout program is worth noticing. It marks a corporate embrace of a self-publishing world in which all the dirty work is done by the self-publishers for free. Somewhere an agent and perhaps an editor are looking for a new line of work, if they think reader-powered publishing stands a chance at success. Could the days of sending manuscripts to agents be ending?
What is an agent, but just a person with an opinion about a writer’s submission? Does an agent really know which books will be a big hit? Maybe the really good agents do, but what about those worker-bee agents who are essentially glorified readers, combing the desert for the next Harry Potter?
Maybe I’m way off base. Having only met one agent in my life, perhaps the publishing world doesn’t work the way I think it does. Still, the Kindle people appear to be pushing the future of publishing to a new level. The idea may ultimately fail due to lack of readable content, but Amazon is powerful enough to take the chance.
As a reader, I am thirsty for some great writer to get my attention, but am I willing to wade through a bunch of random writing in hopes of finding something brilliant? Am I willing to become the worker-bee agent for free? No, I am not. So, who is?
What kind of person would be reading a submission of mine? Is it someone with a refined taste for modern literature, or a bored teenager seeking a few laughs?
Kindle Scout presents lots of questions, while forcing a modern reader and writer to ponder what the system is creating. Maybe I can submit a work to be read by “scouts” and at least know somebody gave it a chance. I can’t always know that about submissions to agents. Perhaps it is a good thing for submissions to be read by regular people instead of paid agents.
I guess the biggest conclusion I draw from exploring the Kindle Scout system is that Kindle is continuing to innovate in ways that other booksellers are not, making the survival of Kindle more likely than the survival of Nook or Kobo or iBooks. Kindle is turning into a bit of a writer’s community, much like WordPress, but for books that writers can theoretically sell for actual money.