With all of the excitement surrounding the launch of new e-reader devices and the data regarding new publishing formats and e-book apps, one voice was eerily silent at the BookExpo America: Amazon. It’s possible that Amazon was still enjoying the aftermath of its colossal announcement that publishing industry expert, agent, and former head of Time Warner Laurence Kirshbaum was joining its new publishing imprint Amazon Publishing, or perhaps the debut of the special-offers specific Kindle 3 was fanfare enough for the book giant.
There was one very special announcement at the BookExpo from the online book giant: the top six finalists in the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Awards. The title sponsor, along with its self-publishing imprint CreateSpace and publishing house Penguin Group USA have narrowed down the field of novel entries from 5,000 to just six, with the grand prize winners in both the general fiction and the young adult fiction being announced on June 13.
Amazon’s ABNA page features excerpts from the six finalists’ books, as well as a link where readers can rate and vote for their favorite entries and read professional reviews of the works. While the results of the readers’ voting ultimately decide the outcome of the awards, the entire process gives the participants an idea of the likes and dislikes of their reading audience, as well as a professional through Publisher’s Weekly.
Between now and June 1, it falls to the reading fans of general and young adult fiction to read the excerpts and make the difficult choice of promoting the next popular novel. Readers can select from the works posted at http://amazon.com/abna. Their votes may be swayed by the reviews from publishers, authors, and literary agents that will be posted to the ABNA site in order to give insight into the finalists’ works.
One of the stronger lures for authors considering entering the ABNA competition is the possibility of earning a publishing contract with Penguin Group USA. “It’s always wonderful to be able to offer talented writers an opportunity to be published at Penguin, and we look forward to the long and fruitful relationships we’ve developed with the writers we’ve discovered in this competition,” remarks Tim McCall, VP, Director of Online Sales and Marketing at Penguin Group.
Another crucial draw for authors are the supporting names behind the competition, most notably CreateSpace, the imprint of Amazon that is branded by On-Demand Publishing, LLC. Their self-publishing model has been providing inventory-free physical distribution of books, CDs, DVDs, MP3s, and video downloads and is now paving the way for indie publishers to produce a quality work while retaining some of the widespread respectability afforded Amazon.com.