Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, Laura K. Cowan, new media, Penguin Amazon novel award, publishing, publishing industry, publishing promotion tools, publishingpocolypse, self-publishing marketing tools
This morning I clicked on this article detailing the 6 finalists of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, which awards a promising new author a Penguin publishing contract and $15,000 advance. Great. I want to enter next time around. Except let’s take a look at what’s really going on here. Penguin is using Amazon to vet new authors, narrow thousands of entries down to 6, and then let the public decide on a winner.
Translation: Penguin no longer knows how to find or pick a winning novel.
I’m all about social media, but isn’t the purpose of a publishing house to be able to source and promote new talent? If a major house like Penguin can’t do it, who can? Just another sign of the Publishinpocolypse, IMHO. Even major New York publishing houses need the public to tell them which book to publish.
Okay, so on the other side, it’s brilliant. Penguin is basically taking the risk out of publishing a novel by letting the public tell them which one they’re most interested in before Penguin takes the risk of signing the author and investing in the book. But as an author, I find this depressing.
Reason This Sucks #1: If Penguin can’t source good talent, why are we authors busting our chops to find a way to submit our work to them? Attempting to become a traditionally published author is looking less and less like a career choice and more and more like playing lotto.
Reason This Sucks #2: I’m an entrepreneurial sort and would happily skip the rejection slip doldrums in favor of publishing my first novel myself (it’s what I did with my first non-fiction book). But there still is no tool to replicate the distribution and promotion power of major publishing houses. Take it from me: promoting your own book on your own takes superhuman stamina with unpredictable results.
The Publishing World Needs Turnkey Promotion Tools
I can forego the ego boost of having my novel accepted by a traditional publishing house if there is a viable way to promote it on my own. Could someone please create a turnkey promotion system for self-published books that actually works? The services offered by print-on-demand and self-publishing houses are a joke, better labeled distribution services than promotion tools. There’s your mission, new media startups of Silicon Valley. Go.
Oh, and email me at laurakcowan at gmail when you’re done. I’ll be your first beta tester, paid user, and enthusiastic evangelist.