Let's just overlook the fact they list their address two different ways on the "Sobol Award" site.
I mean, gee, it's a mistake anyone could make right? I mean, really, don't you get your address wrong on your website at least once?
Leaving location location location aside, let's crunch some numbers:
We're told in "how the manuscripts will be judged" that "The manuscript readers will follow a careful and progressive evaluation process".
They give themselves 90 days to read the entries.
If they get the max of 50,000 thats 556 manuscripts a day to be carefully evaluated.
If they get 10,000 it's 112 each and every day. Regardless of size or quality. No weekends, holidays or sick days. I can tell you that reading bad novels is the most tiring thing in the world. For substantiation of this conclusion you have only to read the comments trail of the Crapometer. Look at how many comments said "I had to stop reading".
The problem is they HAVE to read these. If they don't, if it becomes just a lottery or a sweepstakes, they've got a host of legal problems, none of which I'm qualified to comment on but the Bar Association is all over it.
Let's assume they get the 10,000 manuscripts, and need to read 112 a day.
They've got 4 people listed on the panel of judges right now.
I'm not even going to assume those are the actual readers cause that would be ludicrous.
No, the readers, those industry professionals who are "book editors, librarians and store staff" are unnamed, and unnumbered at present. Do they really think they can find enough people to read 112 manuscripts a day? Even at one a day, that's 112 people. One a week is 784 people. Even if they ARE paying these people, they have to find them. I haven't seen any ads for "Sobol Readers" around. Have you? Do they really think they can find 112 readers in less than three months? 784? Man, I'd be interested to see what kind of recruiting operation they're running if they think that. 112 professional readers is a nightmare to organize. Ask anyone who's run a writing conference. 784? Ask anyone who's run a labor union.
Furthermore, one thing I can guarantee you about store staff and librarians. Good people all, and probably have resounding good taste. Thing is, they've probably never read the stuff in a slush pile in their lives. Remember how many of you commented on the quality of the slush in the Crapometer? Well, that's what they're going to get. Why? Cause the only people who can enter are unpublished novelists. Unpublished. So, even if you fire your agent for the chance at the SOBol brass ring, if you've published a novel you're out. If you've published with iUniverse, you're out. They are targeting the very people LEAST likely to produce a publishable novel.
And they're going to have 112 people reading a novel a day just for the first round. Good luck with that.
I was willing to cut SOBol some slack on this contest because I was outraged at the requirement you sign with a literary agency that ISN'T in order to qualify for the final rounds. I think my exact words were "have at it".
This is just outright wrong.
I don't care how many big name people have attached their names to this. They should be ashamed of themselves. And yea, Brigitte Weeks, and Greg Tobin, I mean YOU. If you really think you are going to be "a unique nation wide talent screener for fiction writers" you would have done well to actually consult with someone who IS looking for fiction writers on a daily basis, and IS finding talent on a daily basis: the membership of AAR is a good place to start. So are the agents listed on Publishers Marketplace. And if you really want to scrape the bottom of the barrel, hell you could have emailed Miss Snark.
If an author is good enough to win, s/he's good enough for a legitimate agency to take on.
Now, I can hear people saying "well, there's a big awards dinner" and anyone who wins will certainly be on the fast track to have their manuscript considered by a major publisher.
I'll stipulate that's correct just for the sake of arguement. Say you've got six offers. Now comes the fun part. You're represented by an agency who's never conducted an auction. You choose one offer from the six. You're represented by an agency that has never negotiated a deal. You sign the contract and your editor leaves, or the publisher folds, or they cancel the contract cause they changed their minds. You're represented by an agency who has no clue what to do when the fecal roster hits the circulation device.
I find the implicit hostility this contest exhibits towards agents to be deeply puzzling. They won't let us represent the winners, they won't let us read the manuscripts, and they won't even let our clients enter. Do you suppose it was dreamed up by someone who was rejected by every agency in town?
The Sobol Prize is more than a crock of shit. It's Bookner Reborn.
Save your money.