Ahhh, the Sobol Prize returns! Much like Godzilla, it's the contest that will not die!
NOW they've got a deal with Touchstone /Fireside to publish three winners. Galleycat has it here, AP's Hillel Italie broke the news.
My favorite quote is:
"It's been very hard to get the word out," she (Sue Pollock of Sobol) told The Associated Press. "We're all still learning on the job in terms of publicity. The Internet has been more difficult to penetrate than we had hoped."
Cause yanno (tm/pp) it wasn't all THAT hard to get the word out. There were a LOT of people reading about the Sobol Award/Prize. They just didn't like what they read.
Now, as to this deal with Touchstone/Fireside. AAR Rules are pretty clear that legitimate agents can't represent both parties in a deal. Signing up the publisher before you have the project is tantamount to doing that.
Requiring the winners to be represented by the agent who also runs the contest is a classic conflict of interest.
You "win" this contest, sign with this "agency" and who's going to tell the publisher their contract sux? Not you. Not your "agent". Me probably. And that's not going to do you any good at all. And what happens when you want to write a second book?
Now, Touchstone/Fireside is a damn fine place to be published. There are really good editors there. What the hell is in this for them? Do they really think "Sobol Prize Winner" on the cover is going to generate sales? I'd love to hear their thinking on this.
It's entirely possible some very good novels will surface in this contest. I've said this before, I'll say it again: if you're good enough to "win" this "contest" you're probably good enough to survive the slush pile at any reputable agency and get a deal that isn't a gimmick.
And just in case the Sobolites want to get me off their back all they have to do is remove the clause in the contest rules that says "winners must agree to sign with Sobol Literary Management". You can even change it to "may agree". You can even let them not have an agent (!!). It's the enforced agency clause that makes this a crock of shit. It's STILL that, no matter how much Air Freshener you buy from Simon&Schuster.