Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Upate on the Writing Contest

Over at the Amazon contest, I made the first cut with my book The Raider's Wife. So that's nice. But frankly, I've been here before and I know it's either a crossroads or the first step into the cul de sac where the dead end is waiting for me.

So. Here are my thoughts on this business:

The first Amazon cut went from 10,000 entries to 500. It was based on a 300-word pitch, and a 5000-word excerpt from the novel. The evaluations began February 8th, and the first cut was announced at 10pm PST on March 16th. The excerpts are now posted at Amazon (link above) with the reviews they received from Amazon in the first round.

It was a long wait, both in days and in hours. On March 16th some contestants began refreshing their Amazon screens at 12:01am. For those who kept it up all night and all day only to learn that they hadn't made the cut, the disappointment must have been crushing. If I had been one of those eliminated in the first cut, I'd have posted one crabbed little message saying, 'Congrats to those of you who made the cut. Good luck.' And then I'd have disappeared off the boards for a while so I could lick my wounds and digest my sour grapes in private. I am blown away by those sunny souls who hang in there, offering their best wishes and their full support to those of us still in the contest, even while they're dealing with the disappointment of having been eliminated. I wish I'd been graced with that sort of disposition.

The Amazon contest is nice because all of the eliminations except the last one are done by industry professionals or very experienced amateurs. Even with the high quality of that input, looking at the reviews given the top 500 excerpts, you can't help but be struck by how subjective and even capricious this process is. On my excerpt, the reviews are diametrically opposed - one reviewer loved it and the other hated it. It makes you appreciate how big a factor luck is in this crazy publishing game.

The next cut will occur on April 15th when the 500 are winnowed down to 100 by reviewers for Publisher's Weekly, and sometime in May three of those 100 will be selected as finalists by the staff at Penguin. The winner will be the one novel out of those three which is able to generate the most excitement among Amazon customers.

Or, in other words, the contest at that point will become a literary American Idol. Those contestants will become shameless hussies, doing whatever (and I mean whatever) is necessary to drum up votes for their books. Beg, borrow, steal, kiss up, belt out show tunes, put on bunny costumes and prance around on street corners. It's not pretty.

But I'll cross that bridge if I ever get to it.

Finally, for anyone interested in looking at my excerpt linked above, here's a warning: Amazon makes you buy it for the price of $0.00. Yes, really, they make you give them a credit card number so they can charge nothing to it. It's how they verify that only customers have access. It's embarrassing, but there you have it...


Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy, this is Nick (from Honey-Hughes). I've been checking in on your blog now and then since getting your Christmas letter, and this seems like a good time to jump in (starting to feel like a creepy lurker). Congratulations on getting the book through the first hoop.

How are you and the family doing? Do you keep in touch with anyone else from H-H? I'm still at Rogerson Kratos, which is where I went after Hughes moved, after an almost year-long break (I'm ready for another one of those). We do flight displays, mostly for Bell Helicopter. It was the place Steve Hawkins had contracted at, and he recommended me. It's nice having a two-mile commute, but it's not really a well run company, and I doubt it'll ever do well.


McMama said...

Nick? Oh, my gosh! Yesterday, for no good reason, I started putting the names of the old Honey-Hughes crew into Facebook. Yours was one of them! (And because I'm not too ept at Facebook searches, I didn't find anybody.)

To answer your questions: we're all good, although my youngest is doing that teenage thing right now, which is exhausting. I keep in touch with Bob Hall, and every Christmas I hear from Jeff Ross, Ken Etow, Rich Cho, Tak, and the Mortons.

I can beat your commute. I take one flight down from the kitchen to the office...


bettyk said...

Very well stated, Cathy.

Congratulations on being in and I sure wish I could review but so far not possible for Canadians. I really think if they are going to continue this, they should fix a lot of these glitches. And, to my mind, 10,000 is just crazy or limited it to the U.S.A. if they can't let the rest of us critique.

I can remember your storyline very well, so may just give you the same critique I gave last year if you haven't changed it much. (It was a good one ;-0 )

McMama said...

Thank you, Betty. It hasn't changed except for further tightening of the prose - my hobby, these days. Cutting words out.



Megan said...

I'm so happy for you. Yours was a favorite last year. Can't wait to read it again.

Anonymous said...

I'm not on Facebook yet, though have been meaning to since a few people I know are there and say I should be too. I only got the livejournal account so I wouldn't be anonymous on the one group I posted to a couple times.

Do you ever hear from Curt Gineris? I just googled him and it looks like he's in San Diego.

McMama said...

Hey, Nick. Curt's in San Diego? I did look for him one day, but didn't find anything.

What about Steve? Is he still there at Rogerson Kratos, or has he moved on? And what about Litjen? Remember all those morning breaks when we were militant about going for coffee and muffins en masse?

Those were the days. I think.


McMama said...

Megan, thank you. And I love your new blog. I wish I had your talent for videos.


Anonymous said...

Steve was gone by the time I started, and I don't think I've seen him since. I did hear his son Jason died unexpectedly; I am shakey with the details but I heard he went to the hospital feeling bad and it turned out he had fairly advanced diabetes (I think), and was so far into it there was nothing the doctors could do. He had no idea he had anything wrong with him until then.

I saw Bob Litjen once on the street in Pasadena on New Years Eve (with the big parade crowds). I walked down to Colorado to check out the scene and actually ran into him walking around. I also heard he married Lynn Smith (do you remember her, she worked at Hughes, and was tall with blond hair).

I saw some of the gang at Chris Mihaly's house at one of the summer parties he had. Skottie had lost weight and had a fiance. I think they did get married later. This was more than ten years ago.

As for the Hughes cafeteria, I still remember Walter the cook's blueberry muffins. I haven't any as good before or since.

McMama said...

Oh, no! Steve's son died? He couldn't have been very old. That's awful. They sure had more than their share of trouble, didn't they?

I do remember Lynn. She was very funny - very wry sense of humor. I'm glad to hear they stayed together.

Skottie was funny, too. Somewhere in a box of junk I have a list of his funny expressions pulled together by a student who worked for us one year. Now I'll have to see if I can find it. What about Chris? Is he still living in the family home?


other lisa said...

Now how did I miss this entry? Many congratulations! You really deserved to move on and I'm so happy you did.

And, yeah. "Capricious" "Random" "luck" - all those words and many more apply.

Anonymous said...

I heard about Steve's son from someone who used to work here, I'll see if I can find the email. What other trouble did Steve & family have?

I don't know if Bob and Lynn got together or still are, I heard it from someone and was curious, and I was wondering if you knew anything.

And I haven't seen Chris for a long time. I wouldn't be surprised if he's still living at home, but I kind of hope not.


McMama said...

Nick, Steve and his wife lost a late-term baby. I think they were into the third trimester, and it seems to me it was a purely random event. It was awful.

This was around the time we were working on IRDIS, if memory serves. (Which it frequently doesn't. Gettin' old ain't for sissies, as Bette Davis used to say.)

Bob Hall had heart surgery recently. He's back to work, but I haven't heard from him lately.