Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Publishers Weekly VP and GM Carl Pritzkat Discusses BookLife Prize, Corona, & Books


1.      Carl, tell me who should apply for the BookLife Prize ? Any author of a self-published book or an un-published manuscript. 

2. What does the award represent – and what community does it serve?  The BookLife Prize represents the high level of quality that independently published books now attain.  The primary community the Prize serves is indie authors (authors of self-published books), but it also serves the entire book publishing community, from readers to agents to publishers: everyone likes to see great books.

3. How many submissions do you expect? Which genres are the most competitive? In this last year we expanded the BookLife Prize to include four nonfiction genres, and we're now receiving about 2,000 entries each year.  We receive the most submissions in the general fiction and memoirs categories.

4. How will books be judged? Every book entered is read and assessed by a Publishers Weekly reviewer.  This assessment includes a numerical score and a one-sentence explanation in four areas: plot, character development, prose, and originality.  These scores are used to create a list of quarter-finalists, from which BookLife and Publishers Weekly editors choose five semi-finalists in each genre. These semi-finalists are then judged by a noted author in each genre, and these authors choose a finalist for each genre.  And then BookLIfe's editor chooses the $5,000 grand prize winner from that list of finalists.

5. As the General Manager for Publishers Weekly, in your opinion, what role do self-published books play in today’s book publishing industry? The role self-published books play in book publishing grows every day.  Self-published books provide a fertile environment for new voices and ideas, especially those that the book publishing industry and its gate keepers have traditionally ignored.  Self-published books speak directly to certain audiences at a pace traditional publishing can't match.  If you look at what's going on with self-published books in genre fiction, where the number of units sold far surpasses those sold by traditional publishing, it demonstrates how nimble and responsive self-publishing can be.  The good news is self-publishing and traditional publishing can live very happily with each other; they complement each other rather than detract from each other.  Most savvy authors and publishers are very aware of this, and they're using this to their best advantage.

6. With coronavirus spreading and impacting lives and the economy, the book world seems to be hard hit, at least temporarily. How is Publishers Weekly keeping up with all that is going on in order to report back to readers and provide a balanced perspective? This is a complicated question, mainly because it's hard to predict where this crisis is leading us.  At Publishers Weekly and BookLife, we're keeping a few principles clear to guide us through it all:

1.  Books and the views and ideas they contain remain the cornerstone of our culture and society.
2.  Readers and creators have never needed books more than in this moment.
3.  Publishers Weekly's job is to connect readers, creators and industry devoted to them.

I should also note that in recognition of these principals and while this crisis endures, Publishers Weekly is making free the digital circulation of its magazine, its website and its digital archives.  No matter what happens, we want the world of books to remain connected.

7. What inspired you to work in the book and media industry? Since I've been a small child I have been fascinated by media.  I started out in music, developed a passion for technology, and was then drawn to books.  There is no more classic, powerful vehicle for ideas than books.

8. What do winners or finalists receive when earning a BookLife Prize? The BookLife Prize Fiction and Nonfiction Contests each have their own set of prizes which are: Quarter-finalists get lots of attention for their books; semi-finalists get even more attention; finalists are profiled in Publishers Weekly, and they receive a $1,000 voucher for social media services from BookBaby; the grand-prize winner receives a $5,000 cash prize; but the best part is that every entry to the BookLife Prize gets a publishable critique from a Publishers Weekly reviewer.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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