Monday, April 21, 2014

These Vines Have Sour Grapes

I have been hanging out a little bit at the writer's forums at the Amazon
Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (which I said I wouldn't do) and let me tell you, just like every year, things have turned ugly since the quarter final cuts.

People aren't happy. They are complaining about their reviews about Amazon's Vine reviewers not being professionals so they have no business judging the competition etc.

Like I said, it happens every year. I believe this is the 7th year of the contest and I've entered 6. Of those 6 times, I have made it to the quarter finals twice, the first year and this year. Did I have sour grapes? Honestly, I don't remember. It's possible, but as a veteran and seeing it happen, I would say probably not. I would say I probably got my reviews, maybe bitched a little and went back to improving my manuscript.

Except the 4th year, but I've already talked about that. And speaking of that, yes, sometimes you will get a person who is not a good reviewer and if you do that sucks. That's what happened to me that 4th year. And when I am talking about a someone who is not a good reviewer, I'm not talking about someone who didn't like my book. Shit happens move on. I'm talking about a person who:
  1. Says nothing at all about your writing in their review.
  2. Adds their biased opinions about ____________(fill in the blank, it could be homosexuals, the death penalty, drugs, whatever) and decides your book is no good because it includes it.
  3. Is obvious they didn't read your entry or openly say they didn't read it yet gave it low marks.
  4. Gives no constructive criticism whatsoever.
  5. Gives criticism in the form of insults, snark and sarcasm.
  6. Instead of encouraging you to work on your craft tells you to quit altogether or worse, kill yourself (yes, the latter has been done).
So, if you get a reviewer like this in the contest the only thing you can really do is
report them to Amazon and hope they never choose them for the contest again. Other than that, it's a done deal.

There are people on the forum bashing the contest, saying it's stupid and Viners shouldn't judge and they will never enter again. Okay. Those people have that right. I just had to point out a few things though:

  • ABNA is a free contest.
  • Amazon gives away 6 publishing contracts and advances in the amount of $125,000
  • It's Amazon's contest, who else are they going to get to judge the 500 excerpts but their own reviewers.
  • You can't judge the entirety of the contest on a couple bad reviewers.
  • Amazon states in the rules who is judging the contest and who they are.
  • It actually prepares you for the real publishing world as it is subjective and some people will hate your work and some people will like it and you will have to learn to deal with that.
I have gone far, I have been cut. I've received good reviews and I have probably
seen the worse review the contest has ever seen, but I will continued to enter because 1) It's free. 2) I'm still a Mid Lister 3) It's a good opportunity to meet other writers 4)I like getting the feedback on my work, which always helps me learn and grow as a writer.
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John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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