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It starts with as many as 10,000, and ends with only one. But first, over the course of several months, entrants to Amazon’s annual competition get whittled down to finalists in five categories: General Fiction, Mystery and Thriller, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, and Young Adult.
Best of all, you the readers get to VOTE on who the grand prize winner will be, based on excerpts, and you can even leave commentary–so even if it’s been a political/rigged/popularity contest to date (speculate as you will, conspiracy theorists)–this time around, it’s a democratic process–overseen by computer, natch–to determine which young novelist earns an Amazon Publishing contract with a $50,000 advance. As for the others, well, an Amazon Publishing contract with a $15,000 advance doesn’t sound too shabby.
Of course, an advance obviously means Amazon will get Right of First Refusal on anything else the winners create in the future, so one could argue that this is merely a relatively cheap ruse for Amazon to identify and proprietize any young and inexperienced talent left undiscovered on the market. But far be it from me to propose an argument as subversive as that ;} No, it’s All Hail Capitalism!
While this contest undoubtedly warrants continued support from all involved, this year I’m adding a political dimension to my announcements. Aside from the obvious tactic of identifying undiscovered–one might say, buried–talent in the cheapest way possible by the Amazon would-be monopoly, is the fix in at the ABNA? Are the top contestants going to inevitably turn out to be those who stick with the safest, recycled, cliched plots and characters? Are we in for more angsty vampire fiction, or do any true innovators lie among those who make the final cuts? For those who fall aside at this point, it may seem like the “most unkindest cut of all” today, especially if you’ve dared to differ: you’ve created fresh antagonists and plots, written in an experimental style, and/or recombined familiar elements in unfamiliar ways.
So let’s see how many metaphors I can mix into one FTW cocktail:
This post is for those not moving on: Don’t Despair. Don’t Eat Your Own Hearts Out. Your rewards may not reside in the material realm–this year, at least, or in the hive of the Amazon universe. The carpenter never raises the floor to match the level of the nail sticking out above it–he always beats the nail down. But don’t go down straight. To Hell with the carpenter–bend, and let him trip on you. And keep that hard head! We’ve got enough drones in this Borg Cube of a publishing industry already. . .
For many fledgling and Independent publishers and authors, Spring means CreateSpace’s Amazon Breakthrough Novel (ABNA) contest is in full bloom. As many as 10,000 initial entrants in five categories (General Fiction, Romance, Mystery and Thriller, Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror) are cut to 500 for the second round. These novelists have just been announced–check the lists to see if your book, or the book of a friend, appears on it: http://www.amazon.com/b?node=332264011
For Indie Writers, this contest represents the pinnacle of their ambivalence toward the traditional publishing establishment (hence the speeding bullet illo, above). On the one hand, it’s a ruse for Amazon to locate and identify the best new talent, and lure them with the promise of an exclusive publishing contract with Createspace. It’s free, and thus doubly enticing. The exposure alone, for folks getting to the higher rounds, may be worth it. And, oh yeah, prizemoney: enough to keep a frugal young writer from getting tossed out of the coffeehouse for another year. On the other hand, there’s the inevitable crash of defeat and disillusionment when one doesn’t go forward: “It’s all politics, it’s rigged, my stuff is better than those lousy winners, why do I keep throwing pearls before swine, I’m wasting my life. . .” Hey, that’s competition, Bub. If you can’t stand a little flesh-wounding, get off the shooting range. You’ve probably already discovered, or soon will, that you’re as much a book marketeer as a writer of books.
The third rounders (quarter-finalists) will be announced on April 14. For now, hearty Congrats to all those moving forward, especially friend of the blog and the author of Tetherbird, Emily McDaid! And for those who didn’t make the cut–just KEEP WRITING!
We began with 10,000 applicants (I say “we” because I fell by the way between the second and third rounds). It’s safe to say that when one comes this far–and remember that there are five categories, so only five books and authors remain in each–that everyone is a viable candidate for the Grand Prize, and the books that are not chosen next month are still well worth everyone’s attention. It’s like being nominated for the Oscars.
I’d like to extend a special congratulations to the semi-finalist-survivors in the General Fiction category:
Danielle Fifer The Great Wall
Ian Flitcroft The Reluctant Cannibals
James Brakken The Treasure of Namakagon
Ken Moraff It Happened in Wisconsin
Scott Cairns Silver
Good luck, authors–you’ve achieved great visibility already! Everyone else, there are twenty-five new books for you to put on your must-check-out list: http://www.amazon.com/b?node=332264011
The 25 Semi-Finalists will be announced on April 16. This is an exciting contest to follow, as it: 1) helps keep Indie Writing in the public eye, 2) it will presumably throw a lot of light on to previously obscure writers who advance, and 3) (unlike many other “contests,”) it’s free to enter–thus very democratic! This is more important than many realize, as the profits on unknown books can be so modest, that their creators will decline any form of promotion that bites into those profits–(for example, one would have to sell 10 copies of a $2.99 e-book to break even on a $20 contest entry.) So the ABNA is kind of the U.S. Open for Authors. Congratulations to all moving on, and also to everyone who entered and put themselves out there!
On New Year’s Eve, the months’-long giveaway for five review copies of Clotho’s Loom by Shawn StJean will end–and remember, these are mass market paperback copies retailing for $20.00 each on Amazon.com, not e-books or ARCs! You’re not going to see many opportunities like this. Over 500 folks have already entered! So head on over to GoodReads.com (links in the left column on the blog, or simply go to the website and browse “giveaways”) and enter to win! Copies will be mailed out in the third week of January.