Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Amazon Novel Contest

I still struggle with the "why am I doing this" question. Do I want the ego strokes from being famous (or maybe admired in a small circle)? Do I want to make money? Do I want success--whatever that is? Do I want to make a living sitting at a computer writing stories? I don't know the answer to any of these questions.

I looked at the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. I qualify, being self-published. If I won, I would get publicity for my books. The process for entering involves making a pitch, submitting a sample, writing a short but interesting bio--all the same things a writer does to convince an agent or a publisher to consider a work.  Amazon will accept 10,000 entries and pass them through the hands of some published writers to come up with a winner. It looks like a lot of work to enter with a very small chance of getting anything out of it.

And what does winning mean in this context? It means a publishing contract with Penguin in which the writer will receive a $15,000 advance against future royalties. I have worked some hard-ass ten-dollar-an-hour jobs in my life, so I know the value of $15,000. On the other hand, it is not that hard at my current job to make $15,000. No matter how you cut it, writing is a crappy way to make money. Not only does lawyering make good money, it is usually more fun.

The thing I dislike about the contest--or the send your query letter to an agent plan--is that I turn over control to someone else and then sit on my hands waiting for someone to give me a prize. The loss of control doesn't seem worth the potential reward.

Which leads back to why am I doing this anyway. I still don't know, but I am heading to my cabin for a winter vacation eagerly awaiting some quiet time to sit at the keyboard and put another 15,000 words into my newest Leopold Larson story. It is becoming clear that I am not a rational being.

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