In another lifetime, Frank Dolan and I were co-workers.
And now we kind of are again, as Frank has written an absolutely first-rate crime novel set in a suburban high school. It's called The Long Detention, and Frank is launching a Kindle Scout campaign to get it off the ground. I sat down with him (on a chat client, but whatever. We were both sitting down. At least I was.) to get the scoop.
Brendan Halpin: So, first of all, I loved the book.
Frank Dolan: Thank you. That means a lot to me.
BH: You really nailed the staff politics of a big suburban high school, which is an unexpected pleasure in a crime novel.
FD: Ha! Well, I guess I'm better at writing about the politics than navigating them.
BH: Well, you've got at least sixteen years as a high school teacher, so you must be doing okay with the politics. So you're launching a Kindle Scout campaign. What is that?
FD: It's a program Amazon runs where you submit your book through their program and people get to "nominate" the book for publication. You just go on the site and click on the book (or books) you'd like to see published. If they decide to publish the book you picked, you get a free electronic copy.
BH: So it's not like a Kickstarter or something where people have to put money down up front.
FD: Right. All you have to do is have an Amazon account and click on the book.
BH: What's the advantage of doing it this way? Why not just self-publish?
FD: Well, the big advantage is that they pay you a $1500 advance if they pick your book. And then because they've invested some money in the book, they invest some energy in promoting it. I guess like putting it in their "if you bought this thing, you might like this other thing" emails and stuff.
BH: That's huge. What's the downside?
FD: I mean, they keep a bigger percentage of the cover price than they would if you did it yourself. But, then, if nobody knows your book exists, you don't sell any.
BH: Tell me about it.
FD: So I guess it's like a chance at 50% of something instead of 70% of nothing.
BH: Cool. Well good luck: so if you get enough votes, you win the 1500 bucks?
FD: As far as I can tell, the votes--or nominations, whatever--are necessary but not sufficient. Ultimately if they don't like the book they won't pull the trigger, but if nobody is interested in the book, they're less likely to like the book. If you know what I mean.
BH: I do. So what's your pitch? Why should we go nominate you?
FD: Well, for one thing, it costs you absolutely nothing. Like, it feels like a pretty small ask to me. But also the book is good. I think it's good, anyway. If you like dark crime fiction--James Ellroy, Charlie Huston, that kind of thing--you'll definitely like this.
BH: I can attest to that. I'll post the link and the cover image you sent.
FD: Thanks for your help!
BH: My huge and devoted following is at your disposal.