Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sobol reams the hopeful

Since a lot of unpublished writers stop by, and at the suggestion of Jessica Keener via Backspace, I wanted to shed some light on (or take light away from) the (bogus) Sobol contest for unpublished manuscripts.

The article on Yahoo is here, but don't get excited. As always, anything that looks too good to be true usually is.

For starters, you have to pay $85 to enter. Secondly, they are capping the contest at 50,000 entries, a number they suggest they want to hit (which further suggests 4.2 million in revenue--a huge, blinking light on the scam-o-meter.) Thirdly, it may seem great that they are giving $100,000 to the winner--but, then again, with 4.2 mil' sitting around, what's a hundred grand? And lastly, please do not confuse the Sobol agency (who will "shop the winner" to publishers) with Nat Sobel of Sobel Weber Associates, an agent who happens to be on top of the game.

Some pieces of the article:

Shomron [the organizer] himself had to shop a novel, "NETfold," which he ended up self-publishing, making it ineligible for a Sobol prize.

What a shock. Smells and tastes just like the morons from PublishAmerica.

The award was created by Sobol Literary Enterprises, a for-profit venture started by technology entrepreneur Gur Shomron, as "a venue to discover talented, unknown fiction writers and help them get the recognition they deserve."

Blah, blah, blah. All you need to notice from that drivel is the term for profit.

Sobol officials include Roger Riger, a vice president at Barnes & Noble Inc.; Greg Tobin, a former editor-in-chief of Ballantine Books and author of several religious works, including "The Wisdom of St. Patrick" and "Saints and Sinners"; and Neil Baldwin, former executive director of the National Book Foundation and author of biographies of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and others.

Really? Well, then I've just lost all respect for B&N, Ballantine, and the NBF, who are all clearly getting paid to vet these manuscripts. Art used to be about freedom (not only of expression, but cost) and it seems that now that the publishing industry has a chokehold on creativity by having to answer to stockholders, they figure they might as well go after the unpublished writers as well.

How absolutely pathetic. The only saving grace is that writers from Maryland, Vermont, Arizona, and North Dakota are prohibited from entering. Here's to Sobol getting no more than a dozen entries.