Thursday, May 28, 2009

Amazon's Bonfire of the Vanities Finale

James King won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award yesterday. It was certainly the best novel of the bunch even if I found some of his skill-craft lacking, such as passive constructions and the like, for a man with a recent MFA. But well-deserved nonetheless.

I found the selection process to be corrupted by so-called Vine Voice reviewers who had a vital screening role in a contest in which some members were also contestants. Houston we have a problem. This has an appearance of a conflict of interest. Naturally, Viners don't think so. I'm shocked. My count was four in the semi-final 100, but in the end the fold folded. No amount of gang reviewing of friends excerpts mattered, as a Viner tossed out an an early stage lamented. That can happen when an Amazon editor decides to as can a bad manuscript moved on. Mr. King had only five reader reviews. In the end, Penguin decided who they wanted and why. He's lucky he slipped by. Well done.



Blogger Dwight Okita said...

Just FYI: Penguin editors selected the Top 100 and Top 3. But it was completely in the hands of the voters -- including friends and family of the writers -- who chose James King as the winner. Even if voters didn't do reviews this year, the popular voting process was just like last year's in which the public chose the top winner.

I just mention this because you'd said that Penguin had chosen James as the writer they wanted to win. In fact, they chose him for the Top 3, but regular voters did the rest.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Well that's not how I see it Dwight. I know you made it close twice so your take is different. I accept that. "Amazon editors" decide the top 100 and Penguin the top three. That's the point: no industry involvement until the final three, is my take on the rules. They chose him as the leading candidate and the winner they most wanted as did the expert reviewers. I think so. I don't know what the votes said or how many there were? Do you?

10:41 AM  
Blogger Dwight Okita said...

Mark, I don't know what the votes were this year. I imagine the finalists know. But last year, the three of us were pretty clear on the vote totals. Bill had the most votes and got the book deal -- even though the expert panel clearly preferred Harry's book the most. The contest was pretty transparent but there are some things we'll never know for sure.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Well that's good to know Dwight. If the three are privy to this information that's one mystery solved. The thinning process is suspect, due to this incestuous aspect I've outlined here. Amazon should change this.

7:37 PM  

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