This year, I sent The Baby Monitor: A Novella of Family Horrors to the competition. I believe in this little book. You can unwrap layers of meaning and metaphor from every page. And its characters and foreshadowing are much deeper than in anything else I've attempted.
I had high hopes. But Tuesday I got an email informing me I didn't win and delivering the judge's critique.
It was glowing.
Beyond glowing. It was a rave review, including perfect scores in the categories for Structure, Grammar, Plot, Character and Voice. The judge went through line by line calling out favorite moments:
"You have particular flair for repetition, a musical bent to your prose... The buildup of empathy throughout the story is powerful... I don’t just admire your use of metaphor, I admire the pace of them – just enough, like spice in a well-seasoned dish. The sheer propulsion of this climactic scene is priceless. An excellent book."Writer's Digest is a legendary publication with serious cred. I know from experience their judges aren't nice to every book they receive, so it should be validating to get such a positive critique.
But accolades like these make me want to shoot myself.
Because The Baby Monitor has sold fewer than 60 copies despite hundreds of dollars worth of advertising, raves from Indie Reader, the support of my email list, and an audiobook available on all the major podcast platforms and my personal YouTube channel. Plus I've given away hundreds of copies and gifted 40 more with only four Amazon reviews to show for it.
Meanwhile, you know who I hear is making money in publishing? Plagiarists who buy ebooks, swap out a few adjectives, and republish them as their own work. Clickfarms that boost authors' page count for a price. And frauds who steal outlines and outsource their content to ghostwriters in the Philippines.
Amazon has given writers a way to publish fiction that never would've seen daylight a few years ago. An 18,000-word novella like mine would be dead in my desk drawer. So I guess I should be grateful. But right now I'm just frustrated. I've been buried by charlatans.
What's the answer? In moments of doubt, I watch this video and am reminded.