Okay, maybe the book sale this past week addled my brain and I didn't hear about this until now, but here it is, straight from PW's mouth:
Amazon is getting into the author-writing contest arena, launching the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award today in cooperation with Penguin and Hewlett-Packard. Amazon will accept submissions through November 5 and the winner will have his or her novel published by Penguin, which is also offering a $25,000 advance. PW will serve as preliminary judges of the material as well. The contest is free and open to unpublished authors in 20 countries who have English-language manuscripts (complete contest rules and requirements are available at www.amazon.com/abna). Amazon, which will accept up to 5,000 entries, is assembling a panel of customers who have posted the most, and best, reviews on its site to serve as the judges for the first round. After the submissions have been cut to 1,000, a team put together by PW will give a full review to each manuscript, and the review and excerpt will be posted on the Amazon Web site where customers can read, rate and review the offerings. 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 pare the 1,000 manuscripts down to 100 and those will undergo "a full editorial review process," said Penguin director of online sales and marketing Tim McCall. Once Penguin cuts the submissions to 10, excerpts will again be posted on the Amazon site where customers will vote for the winner. Voting will close March 31 and the winner announced April 7. McCall said Penguin will release the book, "in the appropriate format," and he hopes to have at least a galley of the book on hand at BEA. -- Publishers Weekly, 10/1/2007 3:00:00 AM
Now, my first inclination is to say, Hurrah! Any opportunity for the unpublished writer in the notoriously difficult publishing climate is terrific. But then the cynic in me went to the amazon site where the contest is featured and I saw that the runners-up from the contest (i.e., all those but one that fail to win the coveted Penguin contract) will receive:
The winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award will receive a full publishing contract from Penguin Group, including promotional support for their novel on Amazon.com, and a media suite from Hewlett-Packard. The nine remaining finalists will receive a free Total Design Freedom self-publishing package from BookSurge and a media suite from Hewlett-Packard. Semi-finalists will receive a review of their manuscript by Publishers Weekly. Upon conclusion of the contest all entrants will be eligible to make their books available for sale to Amazon.com customers via the CreateSpace self-publishing service at no charge. In addition, all entrants will receive discounted self-publishing services from BookSurge for custom cover design, formatting, and editing.
Is this is a great opportunity for some lucky writer, a massive propaganda campaign to sell services, or both? And could it be the beginning of Get Published: The Reality Show?
I'd love to hear what you think.