For the past three years, Publishers Weekly and its website for self-published books, BookLife, have awarded the BookLife Prize to a book that has been completed without the help of a traditional publishing house — authors have edited, printed and promoted their book independently.
Since establishing its BookLife site, Publishers Weekly has reviewed books in the self-published category. Beforehand, Publishers Weekly only reviewed books about to be published by the traditional route. As past BookLife Prize winner Ian Andrew has said, “Readers don’t care (and usually don’t know) who published the book they are reading. All they care is that it is a good story. Indies can and do tell good stories.”
Andrew won the 2017 BookLife Prize for his taut thriller, Face Value, featuring a duo of former military intelligence officers. Working as private investigators these two are on a case involving a missing intelligence analyst, with Russian thugs and a dangerous predator bent on revenge.
This year’s finalist will be announced on Dec. 17. The winner will receive $5,000 and an author’s profile in Publishers Weekly.
In the meantime, here are the semi-finalists in six categories, as selected by judges who are both traditionally published and self-published authors.
Fiction — Anne and Louis by Rozsa Gaston. This historical fiction novel is about the marriage of Anne of Brittany to King Louis XII of France. “A lively, engaging story, rich with historical detail that brings the story of a forgotten queen to life. Reminiscent of Philippa Gregory and Jean Plaidy,” said Eleanor Brown, bestselling author who selected this book as a semi-finalist.
Mystery/Thriller — A Lady and Gentleman in Black by Kelly Jameson. A team of FBI agents investigates a stolen Rembrandt in a town known for its eccentric artists and uncovers unique backstories and horrific crime scenes to find clues in art history. Adam Croft, author of the crime novel, Too Close for Comfort, selected this semi-finalist.
Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror — Fid’s Crusade by David H. Reiss. A likable supervillain finds himself tasked with saving a world he once sought to terrorize for his own personal reasons. For fans of comic books, superheroes and good stories, this title was selected by BookLife judge Tim Pratt, author of the Marla Mason series about an adventurous witch.
Romance/Erotica — After the Gold by Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese. Katie and Brendon are a pair of Olympic ice skating champions about to retire from competition. How will their relationship adapt? Will they lose their deep trust and on-ice chemistry? Extra added twist: Katie is bi. This semi-finalist was selected by BookLife judge Rebekah Weatherspoon, who runs the WOC in Romance website.
Memoir/Biography — Of Monkey Bridges and Banh Mi Sandwiches by Oanh Ngo Usadi. After the Vietnam War, a young girl and her family escape to Texas. Reviewers have called it funny, heartrending, authentic, and powerful. Julie Powell, author of the best-selling memoir Julia and Julia, is the BookLife judge who selected this semi-finalist for its “empathy and vivid storytelling.”
Young Adult/Middle Grade — Ray vs. the Meaning of Life by Michael F. Stewart. Ray, a young boy, is given the chance to inherit a million-dollar trailer park, if he discovers the meaning of life, as directed by his grandmother’s will. “Witty and quirky,” says Rebecca Sky, author of the YA book, Arrowheart, and BookLife judge who selected this semi-finalist.
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