... you guys just don't get it, do you?
Please take that as constructive criticism, not a hateful, bitter statement. What am I talking about? you are probably wondering when you start reading this. In fact, it's probably going to be 2015, you probably just Googled "Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award" and found this blog entry and clicked on it.
Is that so? Keep reading, please.
The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award ruined my life. I'm saying that as a fact. I had put my entire life on hold -- my relationship with my girlfriend, my friendships, my family, my job -- to work on writing and editing my entry The House near the Mountains (which I had specifically written for The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award; I had a coherent, horrifying nightmare, woke up in a cold sweat, and started writing the novel in a fit of feverish creativity and inspiration). I took off three days a week every month for half a year; I told friends I couldn't hang out with them; I didn't spend enough time with my girlfriend; I didn't have a life at all; all my time was dedicated on perfecting the greatest story I had ever conceived in my life, a story that I -- as a reader -- would love to read; a story that I -- as a movie watcher -- would love to watch on the big screen; a story that I -- as a believer -- knew that I was meant to write and would succeed if it was only published. I spent six hours on the novel every day -- editing, editing, editing. Finally, a week before the submission period, I had a perfect, concise 150,000 word horror masterpiece (no, I'm not saying it's a personal masterpiece; I'm saying that I believe other horror fans would agree: call this statement confidence or arrogance, it matters not). And then something happened...
... last minute change in the competition: the maximum word count was changed from 150,000 words to 125,000 words. I cried myself to sleep. But I didn't give up. I completely restructured my novel. And hey, the contest delayed the submission period for another month. So I did have time. And I made, in my opinion, a better story out of it.
Then I didn't make it past round one.
But that isn't the end, because I have more to say. Look at the finalists each year. What do you see? Don't be afraid of making politically incorrect observations; nobody's judging (as long as you keep it to yourself). So, again, I ask: what do you see? Women. In their thirties to forties. Young adult-esque concepts. And one guy thrown in just so they don't appear "sexist." COME ON! That can't be coincidence on any level.
Where's the hope for the youth? Where's the hope for a guy like me? I want to put out stories that inspire people like me; I want to put out stories that I WANT TO READ! I don't want to read another Harry Potter-inspired series. I don't want to read the Mermaid's Sister or something that has a title of a movie you'd find on The Lifetime Channel. I want crazy; I was original; I want insane; I want brilliance; I WANT A REVOLUTION.
I want there to be long lines awaiting a midnight release for a book -- and I want there to be as many guys in this line as girls. I want something to inspire the youth in the United States to get out and read, not to sit on their asses and play Call of Duty all day. The books being chosen for The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award will not produce such a response to reading. I want to see the next Hugh Howey, the next Stephen King or Clive Barker or Robert McCammon or H.P. Lovecraft, the next George R.R. Martin or J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, the next (*gasp*) Cormac McCarthy or William Faulkner; I want the crazy, zany underdog to get published rather than the play-it-safe-formula that you see in the finalists every single year. I want to see a novel inspired by Bioshock to get published, not a novel inspired by Percy Jackson.
Dear ABNA, clean out your judging panel. You're killing the youth of America. You're creating gamers, not readers. Give hope to guys like me, not discouragement. The whole point of having different genre categories is to have different types of books; all of the books that I've seen (and read samples of) could just as easily be Young Adult. If that's the case, simply make it a Young Adult contest. Don't mislead.
Dear ABNA, I'm not mad that you [temporarily] ruined my life, caused me to become [temporarily] an alcoholic, neglect my friends, family, and job for a dream that I've always had. I'm not mad that you've rigged the results (whether blatantly or obliviously) of the contest for whatever feminist agenda that you have...
... but I'm furious that your finalists don't reflect the types of books that will cause a revolution to make reading "cool" again.