Friday, May 23, 2014

ABNA--My Second Place Prize

I received my Publisher's Weekly review for my novel The Globe today. While not all the Quarter-Finalist's reviews were positive, I am very happy with mine. There are a few critical words at the end, but I don't think you can take a review seriously if it sounds like it is written by your biggest fan.

If you have a few minutes, please read the excerpt for the Globe (it's "a quick, fun read") and leave feedback. It might help me move on to the next round. Thanks.

Below is the complete review.

ABNA Publishers Weekly Reviewer

A quick, fun read, this novel is written in a unique and appealing voice. Katelynn and Rosie Pursiful are sisters, and like many siblings, they fight often. Katelynn, the older sister, always thinks she knows what’s best and never listens to Rosie. Rosie, meanwhile, just won’t go along with Katelynn even when it makes no sense not to. They live alone with their mother in a small apartment they recently moved to from the big house they all lived in with their father, George Pursiful, before he went missing. When an unexplained globe turns up at their house one day bearing George’s business card and a strange riddle, the girls are plunged headlong into a strange game that begins to explain the mystery of how their father disappeared. Aided by the spinning globe, the girls can be transported instantly to different parts of the world. Soon, the girls are forced to reckon with challenges as fearsome as a tar golem, the Minotaur in its maze, and invisible scorpions in order to defeat a man who holds them hostage in his game. They slowly realize that working together is the only way they can find their way home. While the novel may lack in suspense and depth of character, the worlds the girls visit are richly rendered and their grudging affection for one another endearingly sincere.


Monday, May 12, 2014

ABNA--The Real Prize is the Second Prize

In an earlier post--ABNA It's all over except for the crying--I suggest that the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest isn't so much an award as job application. Now that I've been involved with the competition for a while, I've modified my thinking on that. I still think that the Grand Prize and First Place winners are actually just candidates that have been awarded a contract, not terribly different from any other author signing with any other publisher. The Grand Prize of $50,000 and the four First Place prizes of $15,000 are actually advances on future sales. Altogether the prizes add up to $110,000, and Amazon will recapture some if not all of that money in book sales. In many cases, I hope, Amazon will earn profits from the novels that win.

So maybe the Grand Prize and First Place winners haven't exactly won a prize (though that is arguable since the advances are very generous for unproven authors), but for the 500 Quarter-Finalists there is a no-strings attached 'Second Prize': a professional book review by Publishers Weekly. A self-published author would have to pay $125 just to get a 25% chance at a professional editorial review by PW. Similarly, Kirkus charges $425 for a professional review. In the official rules Amazon says that the 'Second Prize' PW review has no cash value, and it is impossible to guess how much Amazon is paying for the reviews since they are sure to have cut a special deal. But I don't think it is too bold to say that each review is worth at least $400 to the author, so I estimate the value of the combined Second Place awards to be $200,000 (500 entries times $400). That's almost twice the Grand and First Place winner's advances combined. 
So...thanks Amazon. I humbly accept the 'real' ABNA prize: the professional book review by Publishers Weekly for my entry The Globe.  And on behalf of thousands of novelists looking to find an audience, a big thank you to Amazon, Publishers Weekly, and the Amazon Viners for the ABNA competition--it is so much more than a chance at a book publishing contract.