Will Amazon's Kindle Scout democratize publishing?

Amazon's Kindle Scout, one of the first crowdsourced publishing platforms, announced it will release its first set of 10 reader-selected titles next month.

Romance novel 'A Highland Knight’s Desire' by Amy Jarecki will be one of the 10 books published in Amazon Kindle Scout's first set of reader-selected books.

Call it the American Idol of books, the democratization of publishing, the crowdsourcing of literature.

Amazon's Kindle Scout, one of the first crowdsourced publishing platforms, announced it will release its first set of 10 reader-voted titles March 3.

The first set of books include science fiction, romance, thriller, and mystery novels, including "G1" by Rigel Carson (science fiction), "A Highland Knight’s Desire" by Amy Jarecki (romance), and "L.A. Sniper" by Steve Gannon (thriller).

Launched in October, the program lets readers vote for their favorite unpublished titles from a collection of manuscripts submitted for consideration by aspiring authors. Readers get to first preview an excerpt from unreleased books, then nominate up to three for publishing. The Kindle Scout team then tallies how many votes each the book received and decides which are suitable for publishing. 

"Since we opened our doors we've been busy weighing the feedback of over 29,000 enthusiastic Scouts who have nominated the books they want to read next," Dina Hilal, general manager for Kindle Scout, said in a statement. "These first 10 titles signal a new option for authors, who can choose to have their books discovered and supported by Amazon customers even before they are published."

Authors whose books are chosen receive a 5-year renewable publishing deal, with a $1,500 advance, a royalty rate of 50 percent, and the ability to take back rights to the book if the author doesn’t earn at least $25,000 during the 5-year contract.

The approach benefits Amazon in many ways. As Geekwire points out, it leverages the company’s large customer base for market research, similar to the way that Amazon Studios asks viewers to weigh in on television pilots before deciding which will go into full production.

It also gives Amazon access to a slew of up-and-coming authors who will remember that Amazon, not a traditional publishing house, gave them their first opportunity.

And finally, it offers the company folks in publishing love to hate some good PR: Amazon Scout is, in effect, a feel-good story about a large corporation helping indie authors get published and get noticed.

Amazon today opened up Scout to more genres. The company is now accepting contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and action & adventure submissions in addition to romance, mystery/thriller and science fiction.

Here are the 10 titles chosen by Amazon Scouts for publication March 3:

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