If You Want to Know
About Stories, Study
Writers who are just starting
out tend to nurse the fantasy
that if they could just land a big
book deal or garner a massive
audience, their creative problems
would be forever solved. Bring
this idea up to Eleanor Brown, our general fiction
judge and the author of The Weird Sisters, a New
York Times bestseller, and The Light of Paris, and
she will assure you that it doesn’t work that way.
“You just get a new set of problems,” Brown says.
“No one’s struggle is over. [The life coach] Martha
Beck talks about the day she hit her goal weight and
nothing changed; she still had to get up and eat
right and exercise. For me, I have seen that success
is unpredictable and fickle. What matters is keeping
yourself challenged as a person and as a writer.”
A returning judge, Brown had a bit of a heads-up
on what to expect from this contest, but was still
surprised by the quality of the entries: “There was
something wonderful about each one.” She went
back and forth between a few manuscripts but
ultimately chose A Hundred Veils by Rea Keech for
the finals of the BookLife Prize.
“It has an interesting setting, in Iran around the
time of the revolution,” Brown says, noting that she
was immediately drawn in. “The author had lived
there, so it has lots of great lifelike details. It’s
mostly a serious story, but occasionally it’s very
funny, which is a hard combination to strike. It’s
also a love story, which in this case serves as a
metaphor for cultural expectations and conflict. It
keeps you invested and asking what will happen
next. It’s just a really nice entire package.”
What Are You Waiting For?
Google Mark Dawson and one of the first searches
suggested (after his work and classes of course) is
“Mark Dawson net worth.” That’s because the self-publishing all-star is—how do
we put this delicately?—making
mad coin, raking in six figures
a year off of his books alone.
But it’s not as though he’s kicking back watching the money
roll in. The bestselling crime
author is virtually always working—if not on writing, then on
marketing and connecting with
fans or aspiring writers.
After a disappointing go with a traditional press,
Dawson began dabbling in self-publishing in 2011.
By 2014 he was doing so well as an author that he
was able to quit his job and devote himself entirely
to his rapidly flourishing writing career. He may be
especially talented and impressively prolific (
releasing an average of five books per year), but Dawson
insists that any author can be successful if he or she
is dedicated and has the chops.
BY NICOLE AUDREY SPECTOR
Meet the Judges
Of the more than 700 books from seven genres submitted for the 2017 BookLife prize,
only 35 advanced to the semifinals. A panel of seven judges, who are all bestselling or
award-winning authors, then selected seven titles to advance to the finals. The grand-
prize winner will be announced on December 18. We caught up with the seven judges to
talk about what they were looking for and the titles they picked for the finals.
BOOKLIFE PRIZE ®