On the face of it this is kind of an interesting idea, for an $85 entry fee you can apply for the Sobol Award, a $100,000 cash prize for a novel basically selected from the slush pile and then “represented” by the prize giving agency.

Neat idea, huh?

The Sobol Agency is committed to helping “top-ranking” writers find publishers. I didn’t know writers were ranked, but if they were, don’t you think they’d be published? The creators of the prize don’t acknowledge that the entire publishing world is always on the hunt for that unique, brilliant, unpublished novelist.

I’m sure there are books that sneak through the cracks, but there is not a clique of editors and agents who are trying to keep you from publishing your novel because they’re conspiring against you. They just don’t think what you’ve written is marketable.

I tend to agree with the critics cited in this article, which likens this contest to a lottery.

Maybe I’m wrong and they find the next Confederacy of Dunces, but I’m not optimistic. In the meantime, if I were an aspiring novelist I would be writing, reading the best, and working on my craft. And when I was ready I would query reputable, established agencies far and wide for the price of one postage stamp per query.

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