Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Yes, of course! I mean no. (a.k.a. Free Cheese)

From the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award FAQ:
Q: Do I keep my content rights if I enter?
A: Yes, you maintain full content rights when you enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award [; however,] if you are selected as a Semi-Finalist on January 15th, 2008 [...] [,] you will be required to provide Penguin right of first refusal on any publishing contract until you win, are eliminated from the contest, or April 22, 2008.
That is, if it's worth anything, Penguin owns you. And not only as far as the submitted manuscript, but "any publishing contract"! Am I misreading this?
Here's another good one:
The Grand Prize winner will be selected from among the Finalists based on Amazon customer voting [...]
I foresee quite a bit of overtime work for The Notorious Grady Harp Voting Machine (TNGHVM). ;-)

What's it worth, this so-called 'customer' voting? To know the answer, one needs only to check out Grady Harp's reviews record with his invariable 60-100 votes for every single item received near instantaneously upon posting of every review of his.
More funny stuff:
5. PRIZES. The following prizes will be awarded:

One (1) Grand Prize will be awarded, consisting of a full publishing contract with Penguin to market and distribute Grand Prize winner's winning Manuscript as a published book, including promotion for such published book on Amazon.com. Upon the full execution of the publishing contract, Penguin will pay the Grand Prize winner US $25,000. (The approximate retail value ("ARV") of the publishing contract is US $25,000 for the advance.) This US $25,000 payment is an advance against the royalties to be earned by the Grand Prize winner under the publishing contract. Penguin will determine the royalty rates to be paid under the publishing contract, which will depend on the format in which the book is published. Publishing contract with Penguin is not negotiable, and Grand Prize winner must sign "as is" upon receipt of the executable contract [...]
Twenty-five grand is cool of course, but the rest... and what if the royalties (determined by publisher alone!) do not eventually amount to the advance? Will the happy advancee have to return the dough ? How hard is it for the publisher to arrange for such a royalties schedule that there'll be nothing left for the author or even to leave him in the red? Even 'creative accounting' won't be required. Comments invited: tell me whether, and if so, where I'm misreading this.

I mean, why would anyone deny himself the right to negotiate? Doesn't having no right to negotiate amount to a guarantee of being fleeced? What publishing risks does Penguin take here? They are under no obligation to publish anything, winner or not; they are getting a nice free marketing survey, and they are to determine the price IF they do decide to publish. Seems like a risk-free strategy to me.

If I were an aspiring writer, what would I gain by forgoing the regular publishing route (agent, etc., including pay negotiation) and resorting to this contest? The high privilege and distinct honour of being 'judged' by the likes of Hurried Klausner?

But, that said, I know nothing about publishing industry, so -- whoever is -- please enlighten me.

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