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I had been reading these romances where there were triangles with princes, and the princes kept losing out on the love interests. I was like, really? Princes? I love princes. What is the problem here?

I knew the hero in one of the books I was planning was an illegitimate offspring of a fake European royal family. I started thinking about that family and giving them their backstory, and then a very insistent American girl named Kat started piping up about her role in it all, and the story just fell into place. It was the easiest time I've ever had writing a book, and it took me a month to do the entire thing (and I should mention that I'm not a rewriter at the end – my first draft is my final draft with a little bit of tweaking and editing. I sort of outline, and then I write it the way I want it to be, and it would make me crazy if I had to rewrite the story over and over and over again).

The very day I finished the book, a member of Indie Author Hub (an online group I belong to) talked about an email she got about something called the Kindle Scout program. I read through it and got super excited, unlike the rest of the Internet. People were upset about the royalties, which is understandable when you're indie and you get to keep all the money.

My thinking was this – have you ever seen the TV Show "Shark Tank?" It's one my family and I enjoy watching (and even own some of the products!). The premise is somebody who has a small company or a great idea comes in and pitches to these extremely wealthy and successful entrepreneurs/millionaires. Those entrepreneurs then either pass or make a monetary offer in exchange for a percentage of the company. Many times those people say no to the offers, because they "don't want to give away that much of their company." At that point, I am usually throwing things at the television. Because by themselves, the people may be making like $100,000 a year (nothing to sneeze at!). But the Sharks can turn that into $10 million a year for like 40% of the company (they have to have skin in the game to care about it being successful, right?). Because as far as I can tell, $6 million dollars is much better than $100,000. I would take those deals in a heartbeat because I'd rather have a smaller piece of an enormous pie, than a tiny pie all to myself.

Not only that, but Amazon gives you back your copyright if they're not making you money. Who does that? Can you imagine the Sharks doing that? "I didn't make you money, so I'm giving you back your company." It would never happen. So I felt like there wasn't even any risk involved.

I knew I was supposed to enter Kindle Scout. I knew, in my gut, that I would be chosen, and that this could be a stepping stone for me into a much larger partnership with Amazon. So I hired a cover artist, had some beta readers go through it, and I submitted (no editing of any kind, at that point).

You have to get people to nominate your book, and they have a "Hot and Trending" list where the people getting the most votes are listed. I ran a sweepstakes and hit up everyone I knew to vote for me. I managed to stay on that "Hot and Trending" list the entire time. It was really hard work – for someone who hates marketing, that was pretty much all I did for a month straight.

And then my time slot was up and...I was chosen! I was among the first people chosen, and when the initial ten Kindle Scout books were released, I was one of those first ten. Which meant a lot of publicity as Amazon did a massive press release. It was pretty exciting to see my name in publications like "Business Week" and "The New York Times." I know it worked because when the book was on pre-order, the "Also Boughts" were my nine fellow Kindle Scout winners.

It was one of the reasons why I wanted to get it on the ground floor – I figured it would be like the first season of "American Idol" – where a Kelly Clarkson was launched. What was fun and exciting at the beginning might lose its shine as time went on.

Then the launch day...and in the first couple of weeks I got as low as #204 in the overall store. I had never been that high (low?) before, and I couldn't stop grinning. I was #1 on various subcategory lists, and I did very, very well. Even with the royalty share, it was still good money.

And even better? Sales of my one indie book skyrocketed. I can only imagine how much better I would have been doing if I had ten books for sale instead of two. For those asking whether Kindle Scout is worth it, my resounding answer is YES. I have found the people at Kindle Press (the publishing line for the Kindle Scout winners) to be amazing and intelligent and so helpful. I have nothing but good things to say about Amazon and Kindle Scout.

Caroline Carr, in particular, was phenomenal. Our first phone conversation I told her that I wanted someday to be published with Montlake and hoped this was a stepping stone. She asked me what I was working on. I told her in vague terms. Next thing I know, she's arranged a phone meeting with the acquiring editor at Montlake. I thought it was just like a "get to know this person" sort of situation, and I was so grateful for it. Foot firmly in door! So you can imagine my shock when she told me she wanted to offer me a two-book contract and would be getting back to me with the details. (I was in total shock, and she now thinks I'm a "tough nut to crack." More like I still can't believe this is happening to me and it blows me away every time I get on the phone with her.)

The day before my birthday she called again and extended that contract to me. My IP attorney said it was one of the most amazing publishing contracts he'd ever seen. I happily signed, excited to be finally living my dream as it was something I'd worked hard to attain, even though I initially had no idea how it would happen.

And then there was my first phone call with the marketing team, with all those years of RWA meetings about professionalism drilled into me, I asked what I could do to help with the marketing. Because as you know, every New York publisher expects you to do all the work. Their marketing money is reserved for the authors who don't need it. The answer was basically, "Nothing, really. We'll take care of it." Cue more giddy excitement from me.

Then something else amazing happened. Caroline arranged another meeting, this time with the person in charge of the Kindle Worlds program. Kindle Worlds is where you can write fanfiction based on a TV show or a book or comic book, and you split the money with the originator of the work. Fanfic writers don't normally get paid, so this seemed like a fun idea. There are about 47 Worlds right now – with things like "The Vampire Diaries" and "Veronica Mars" among them. They asked if *I* wanted "Royal Date" to become a World. Mind BLOWN. Um, yes please.

Amazon has made concerted marketing pushes for "Royal Date" at quarterly intervals, and as I said, my indie sales have gone up by several hundreds percent as a result. (And every promo push brings in money.) I wish I had more books up, and that is the goal now. I have finished the second book in the "Royals of Monterra" universe, and am currently working on the third. After that...who knows? I guess we'll have to see how my books perform.

And I owe it all to Kindle Scout.

(And I guess Joe was right about that cream stuff.)
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