Congrats to Bill Loehfelm

Posted: April 8, 2008 in Hot Book News

From Publisher’s Weekly:

New Orleans Bartender Wins Amazon Breakthrough Award
By Lynn Andriani — Publishers Weekly, 4/7/2008 7:55:00 AM
The winner of the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award was announced today: Bill Loehfelm, author of Fresh Kills, a noir mystery about lower-middle-class life in Staten Island, home to the famous garbage dump Fresh Kills. Representatives from Penguin and Amazon made the announcement at a breakfast at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City this morning.

Loehfelm, who works as a bartender in New Orleans during the day and wrote Fresh Kills at night, won a $25,000 publishing contract with Penguin, which will publish the novel in late summer.

Russell Grandinetti, v-p of books for Amazon.com, said the contest received a tremendous response, and hit its cap of 5,000 submissions two weeks before the deadline. Submissions came from 18 countries and every state, and more than 30,000 Amazon.com customers downloaded excerpts of the submitted novels. In her introduction to the announcement of the winner, Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert said it was a “great joy to be part of an event that gives writers a rope of hope.”

Loehfelm echoed Gilbert’s sentiments about the difficulty for unknown writers to get published. He said that when he heard about the contest, he quickly decided to enter, since “there was nothing to lose.” Now that he has won, he said he hopes Amazon will hold the contest again next year.

The award was founded by Amazon in cooperation with Penguin and Hewlett-Packard.

The contest was free and open to unpublished authors in 20 countries who have English-language manuscripts. Amazon accepted 5,000 entries and assembled a panel of customers who had posted the most, and best, reviews on its site to serve as the judges for the first round. After the submissions were cut to 1,000, a team put together by PW gave a full review to each manuscript, and the review and excerpt were posted on Amazon, where customers could read, rate and review the offerings.

Penguin pared the 1,000 manuscripts down to 100 and those underwent “a full editorial review process,” said Penguin director of online sales and marketing Tim McCall. Once Penguin cut the submissions to 10, excerpts were again posted on the Amazon site where customers voted for the winner.

McCall said Penguin will release the book, “in the appropriate format,” and he hopes to have at least a galley of the book on hand at BEA.

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