It's my vacation, which means doing a lot of the stuff I've been putting off. Except laundry and cleaning the toilet. Though to be fair, I finally found my toilet scrubber and I only thought about using it for a few days before I actually did. That's hardly even procrastination.
Speaking of procrastination, while I was exercising this skill, I searched Google for the ABNA 2015. Nope, not going to happen. A little sad, but not really. Good book contests don't last because there's not enough benefit to the host. ABNA's primary benefit was in attracting new users to Create Space, which it did before reaching a saturation point. When upping the prize to $50,000 didn't increase participation, well it had to go. In the meantime Amazon has another g̶r̶e̶a̶t̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶t̶e̶s̶t̶ idea to bypass the slush pile. It's called Kindle Scout. If you're thinking this is somewhat old news, you're right. Better late than never, as they say.
The program ( is similar to Authonomy) asks readers to vote for their favorite books and in theory, weed out the bad from the good while, in theory, generating book buzz.
In reality, neither ABNA or Authonomy has generated the same kind of excitement that, say, a book auction where the writer walks away with a six figure advance.
Since the news of ABNA 2015's cancellation r̶e̶a̶d̶e̶r̶s̶ writers are like, "It looks amateurish if possessive apostrophes are missing as in one of them. I insta-skip any work like that."
And other writer's are like, " If I have a typo, someone will highlight it in a review and hold it up as evidence, “See, self-pubbers are terrible. ”But they don’t do the same thing to traditionally published work."(comments quoted from this post.)
While writers are giving a big damn, readers are like, "Huh? What's this.... hmmm." And then, like, "Oh, this video of a dog barking "hello" is trending. I better go watch it. "
Anyway, here's the break down of Kindle Scout (3).
1. Beyond some major controversy, why wouldn't Amazon renew a five year auto renewable contract? They don't need to even talk to the author. Further more, one sale a year doesn't hurt and times thousands of titles, it actually adds up. Also, Amazon gets exclusive content for it's lending library, Kindle Select and audible. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the contract limits and/or excludes royalties from free, loaned or subscription distribution. Free, good and exclusive content is a big marketing tool for Kindle.
2. The average self-published book earns about $100 dollars in it's life time. A $1500 advance is 15 times that. Not bad for the average writer.
3. I didn't say I wouldn't participate =)
I've been thinking about flaws for a long time now and had hoped to tie it into my ABNA results.
The process of critique has me frustrated and not because I don't see value you in it. I see tons of value but I also see a lack of contextual thinking and an attitude toward flaws that goes like this: Only after all your flaws are removed from your story, will your work be good enough for public eyes.
Here's the truth: flaws don't matter as much as you might think. They really don't. There is an unquantifiable aspect to what makes things popular. It's human nature to try to control the uncontrollable. A few seasons back America's Next Top Model tried to teach the contestants how to control their celebrity by branding themselves. Logic I found absurd.
Writing, like so many things in life, is a journey. Flawed people find love and jobs. Flawed songs hit the top of the charts. Flawed food is severed and eaten every single second of the day to happy customers. And flawed manuscripts find flawed publishers to produce them.
While personal growth often plays a role in success, it's not a requirement. What I'm saying is, and this applies to any pursuit, don't be afraid to put yourself out there now, flawed as you may be. Some people will like what you do. Some people won't. But be very cautious of people who say wait, wait, wait... not yet, no, wait.
Unless you actively resist change, each new attempt will be better. (Not everyone will agree on that, but you know in your heart when you've done something that stretched your boundaries.) The idea that a song that wasn't good or a book that wasn't good will end your career is archaic. We are in an era of experiment, thanks in large part to the internet. I find that as long as you put your authentic self out there, people are generous and forgiving of flaws.
You are free to make a gazillion mistakes doing whatever it is that makes you happy. And to learn from those mistakes. Or not. And either way, you have it in you to create a masterpiece. Or not. But until you put yourself out there, you'll never know.
The zany adventures of a Great Dane/Bloodhound mix in Ohio takes on a life of its own when he digs up a zombie in the woods. Meathead is a typical dog, loyal, friendly, innocently mischievous, and his owner, 40-something Einstein Angleton (still living with his mother), knows this well. The novel is uniquely narrated in Meathead’s voice as he chats with other woodland creatures and struggles to be a good dog to his human, a race he holds little respect for. The plot kicks in when Angleton finds a camera during a recent walk through the forest with Meathead, who digs at a smelly patch of dirt that has a hand coming out of it. Once developed, the camera’s pictures reveal the misshapen face of a man -- a recently-turned zombie named Hubert Pines who winds up on Meathead’s porch looking for sympathetic conversation and ends up befriending the pooch. Before long, things get crazy as Meathead outwits the local trainer (a.k.a. “Dog Nazi”) to help Hubert stay hidden and find him a stash of Zoloft while vying for the love of Anita, a female zombie bent on biting Einstein, all before his body falls apart completely. The author supplies a plethora of goofily-named characters, fart jokes, and footnotes that steadily become more distracting than cutely informative once Meathead’s voice becomes firmly established. Yet it’s the perspective of this plucky pet that contributes most to the novel’s allure, charm, and G-rated entertainment potential. A spirited, refreshing addition to the recent influx of zombie stories.
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
I really like your style. It's so comfortable, honest and witty. It's mesmerizing. Even though this is from the viewpoint of a dog, it's strangely easy to relate to and understand as a human, and it's just downright fun to read. I particularly thought that you did an excellent job of capturing a dog's point of view but still giving it enough personality to make it into something quirky and fun.
What aspect needs the most work?
Hmm..hard to say. There are so many good things going on here that I couldn't really pick out many negatives. The only thing that comes to mind is that this doesn't seem to have much market potential. As much as I hate to say it, this would be a tough sell to a publisher since it's so off-the-beaten-path. What is your overall opinion of this excerpt? You know, if there are flaws in here, they are seriously masked by the quirks of the main character and the pure personality that shines through in every sentence. As a long-time reader (and, not publisher, so I am somewhat of a "lay" person here), I really enjoyed this. It's something so different and refreshing that draws you in with its silliness and makes you want to read more.
I really don't have any criticism (except that I want to keep reading, this was so fun!). I'd just beware of selling this to a New York publisher. In fact, the pitch probably would get you tossed off many NY desks simply because your story is told through the eyes of a dog instead of a person.
This is a very tough sell (and really, don't rule out self-publishing).
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
The characters are very well done. The dog talks but still seems realistic. The human characters also are very believable. What aspect needs the most work? There are a few mistakes here and there that a good editor could fix. Grammar is very important in a young adult book since it is giving them an example of how to write.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt? It is interesting. It is not the best book I have read but it is quite readable and moves along nicely. Writing from the viewpoint of an animal is a bit different from the usual and this is a fair example of this sort of novel.
I'm not an idiot-- Okay. So that's not entirely true. But on most occasions I can be counted on to know the date and time of a specific event. I got a notice this morning-- if you don't live in Korea, you probably got it yesterday afternoon-- the second round winners for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest were posted. This was a surprise to me because I had thought the news wouldn't come until the 28th. I set my own contest dates for the 29th, a day after the second round results from Amazon's contest would be announced. I even checked the dates before I posted. What probably happened is a little thing called biased. I don't know whether I saw it was the 23rd and forgot, or simply saw what I had expected to see. The brain is funny that way. Any author who has tried to edit their own manuscript can attest to how easy to miss errors because you see what you think you wrote, not efewth.
This got me to think about biases. I've always be intrigued bias. You cannot have an intelligent discussion with a truly biased individual.
Bias plays a huge role in a reader's relationship with writers. Previously, I wrote that I trusted readers to know what they want. Hence, I'm putting out both a horror and literary collection side by side.
But this bias thing got me to thinking. How often have I picked up a book because I know an author rights the kind of story I'm in the mood for?
If I go any deeper, this post is going to be really long so I'll just end it here by saying that I think it's much easier for a writer to define themselves as x, y, and z, than redefine themselves after years of being only z.
Here's a wiki link to a long list of biases in case your board and don't forget that thanks to my on biases the Write While You Wait Contest runs until the 29th of February.
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two house cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and three barn cats .
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018