Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New Opportunity for Unpublished Authors

Yesterday's Publishers Weekly (PW) reported on a new opportunity for writers.

Amazon announced the first "Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award" in cooperation with Penguin and Hewlett-Packard.

Amazon is accepting submission through November 5. They will accept up to 5,000 entries. The winner will win a $25,000 advance and have his/her novel published by Penguin.

"The contest is free and open to unpublished authors in 20 countries who have English-language manuscripts." Go here for complete contest rules.

Amazon plans for the reviewers who have posted the most and best reviews on its site to be the preliminary judges for the first round, cutting the submissions to the top one thousand. Then a panel put together by PW will give a full review to each manu-
script. Each review together with an excerpt will be posted online for comment. "The PW team--of existing and new reviewers--will be paid to administer the reviews, and reviewers will remain anonymous. Amazon is paying PW's administrative costs only."

Penguin will serve as the second round judges, cutting the 1,000 manuscripts down to 100. Those hundred will go through the complete editorial review process, expected to cut the submissions to ten.

Those final ten will be posted again on Amazon where customers will vote on them.

"Voting will close March 31 and the winner announced April 7." Penguin will release the book "in the appropriate format" and will plan to have the galley available at BookExpo America in Los Angeles (meeting May 29 to June 1).

Get busy, writers!


David Roth said...

This is a great opportunity, although I still remember that the last contest like this (Borders/Gather.com First Chapter). In that one the finalists got there not because they had the best stories, but rather because they had the best social networks. Yes, professionals who could be more objective made the final decision, but the writers with the most friends were the ones who got to that place in the contest.

Katie said...

I am noticing that same thing about the Gather.com contest... I made the mistake of not reading the voting details, and was scoring them according to the skill of the writer... THEN I realized that only the "10's" count, and the person with the most 10's wins. Hmpf. I'm glad I didn't enter my own story.

I'm trying to decipher whether this contest will "fix" that or not. It's obvious, by the money that's being put into it, that Amazon and Penguin are planning on promoting it heavily enough that saleas will be high... and you'd expect that they wouldn't be willing to do that if they're not sure that the process will produce a book that will sell... unless Amazon just wants to get their publishing service going with the secondary "prizes".

I'm wondering, Maya... do you think the rush on publishing this book could hurt the writer in the long run? I mean... do they have an editor that can help polish the winner's book fast enough to ensure that the book is a good debut novel? Or could this debut author end up getting stabbed in the back by not getting the same amount of editing attention (and help) that they would have if an agent had found them an editor the hard way. What do you think?

Stephen Parrish said...

At first glance this sounds exciting, but I'm wondering how different genres will be compared against each other.

I'm also curious about all the self-publishing consolation prizes for also-rans.

Maya Reynolds said...

David: It looks like they learned from the Gather contest. They are letting the professionals choose the top ten, and then letting popularity choose the winner.

Katie: I suspect that Penguin is sinking a lot of time and resources into this project. I'm sure they'll provide appropriate support for the winner.

Stephen: Good for you re the self-publishing issue. I didn't read the entire thing until I saw your comment. That's a very interesting twist.

As far as genres go, I suspect Miss Snark's famous motto of "Good writing trumps all" will triumph until that final round. Then popularity will allow one genre to win.

Katie said...

The self-publishing twist was the "secondary prizes" I was talking about... is Amazon sinking all this money into this because they hope to make it on the winning book, or because they hope to make it on selling self-publishing to a large portion of the 5,000 authors that submit?

Maya Reynolds said...

Katie: The self-publishing thing is really interesting. Amazon, of course, was among the first Internet services to appeal to self-pubbed writers.

I'd like to understand more of what is intended here.

Joy Shayne said...

Re the self-publishing angle -- it occurred to me, too, that this may be Amazon's way of test-flying the Amazon brand as a publisher as well as a seller of books.

My question is, what does Penguin get out of it?

Maya Reynolds said...

Joy: In the next day or so, I'll do a blog on this.

Paul McDermott said...

Thanks for a fascinating couple of hours [seemed like MINUTES!!] in The Writers' Chatroom tonight (as I write it's 02:05 Monday Feb 4)

Wish I'd known about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel comp BEFORE the closing date! Still, plenty more out there .... thanks again for a VERY informative chat session! And of COURSE I've bookmarked your blog page!

Maya Reynolds said...

Paul: Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed the chat, too.