Amazon Literary Partnership Names More Than $1 Million in New Grants

From Publishing Perspectives:

Following its deadline of January 15 for applications, the Amazon Literary Partnership has this morning (May 27) announced $1 million in grants to 66 organizations in the United States. And as the country approaches the terrible milestone of 100,000 deaths to the coronavirus COVID-19, the funds being issued by the program may look better than ever.

In fact, Amazon already has provided COVID-19 emergency relief donations to Artist Relief and PEN America’s Writers’ Emergency Fund, the latter of which is also supported by the Lannan Foundation, and The Haven Foundation.

Publishing Perspectives readers are familiar with Amazon’s program, both for its more than $13 million in funding since Jon Fine directed the establishment of the program in 2009, and for its focus on supporting nonprofit efforts that serve writers, with a traditional emphasis on “overlooked and marginalized writers,” as Neal Thompson, another director of the program, has put it.

Today, Alexandra Woodworth guides the program, which has touched the work of more than 150 organizations.

. . . .

  • The theme is the author—with an emphasis on underrepresented voices—and supporting that writer’s needs
  • The variations or genres are represented by the wide variety of organizations and services funded

This translates into direct support for nonprofit writing centers, residencies, fellowships, after-school classes, literary magazines, national organizations supporting storytelling and free speech, and internationally acclaimed publishers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

On today’s announcement, Woodworth says, “The Amazon Literary Partnership champions organizations that support writers, poets, translators, and diverse voices at every stage in their career. Given the impact that COVID-19 has had on the literary community, we’re proud to continue to fund these remarkable organizations sustaining literary culture in our communities now and for the future.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG must have missed the announcements of Random House, Simon & Schuster, etc., about their donations to worthy nonprofits supporting diverse voices.

13 thoughts on “Amazon Literary Partnership Names More Than $1 Million in New Grants”

      • Other book awards don’t seem to have a big problem with criteria (although there are always dissenters from any award choice), so I doubt it would be difficult for Amazon to set up an awards program.

        Like most, you’d probably divide fiction from non-fiction, then work your way down to whatever level of genre granularity you like. Amazon already makes indie authors choose genres, so using those would seem to be reasonable.

        • I agree – those who create and support the awards get to choose the criteria.

          Right now Amazon rewards people who are already selling well with more money (KU). It is their right to choose that – after all, those writers make money for Amazon – but it doesn’t replace the award system for traditionally published books which often refuse access to self-published authors.

          Trad pub awards often include publication incentives – by themselves – or things like workshops designed for their kinds of authors.

          It’s a checkered landscape right now, with some awards allowing indies to apply, and many others not, but the few awards I’ve seen that are only for indies lack stature or recognition.

          One I tried basically required proper punctuation and capitalization as its way of judging quality – and had many finalists whose claim to fame was basic English competence. Had I done my due diligence in advance, I might have figured that out.

          Even in the traditional publishing world, some awards are so esoteric that the recognition is nice, but doesn’t guarantee many additional sales.

          Amazon Encore, which Felix mentioned in a comment (and removed?), is for ‘out of print books’ – in this day and age, that’s not possible going forward, as it is easy to keep books technically ‘in print.’

          Not that books are a large part of Amazon’s income base, but they are the big player for millions of indie writers, and it would be nice to see them take a stand.

        • I agree – those who create and support the awards get to choose the criteria.

          Right now Amazon rewards people who are already selling well with more money (KU). It is their right to choose that – after all, those writers make money for Amazon – but it doesn’t replace the award system for traditionally published books which often refuse access to self-published authors.

          Trad pub awards often include publication incentives – by themselves – or things like workshops designed for their kinds of authors.

          It’s a checkered landscape right now, with some awards allowing indies to apply, and many others not, but the few awards I’ve seen for indies-only lack stature or recognition.

          One I tried basically required proper punctuation and capitalization as its way of judging quality – and had many finalists whose claim to fame was basic English competence. Had I done my due diligence in advance, I might have figured that out.

          Even in the traditional publishing world, some awards are so esoteric that the recognition is nice, but doesn’t guarantee many additional sales.

          Amazon Encore, which Felix mentioned in a comment (and removed?), is for ‘out of print books’ – in this day and age, that’s not possible going forward, as it is easy to keep books technically ‘in print.’

          Not that books are a large part of Amazon’s income base, but they are the big player for millions of indie writers, and it would be nice to see them take a stand.

        • I suppose what I was saying there was, what makes an indie an indie? How indie do you have to be? … and so forth. I don’t think it’s that easy to draw a bright line there.

          Another word might work better. Unaffiliated or self-published, but what about small houses? What about self-published authors who operate their own publishing arms just for their work, or them and their friends? Unaffiliated with the big 5, I suppose, but what about publishers who are just not quite as big as the big 5? Even the word “small” is hard to pin down. How small? and why just that small and no bigger?

          IMO, Indie is a grey area with lots of mush.

        • Indie, inc puts out hundreds out thousands of titles a year.
          Who is going to weigh them?
          By what criteria? Sales? Popularity? Political bent? Pretty cover pictures?

          The SF field is one of the smaller ones and it’s already too big to credibly award anything, romance is headed that way, and mystery is not far behind. And all those are primarily tradpub awards. You’d have to get really fine-grained before you can identify a manageable field of candidates, something like “character-driven cross-time space opera without fleet combat” or, “cozy mystery set in a small irish village”, or “paranormal romance with elves set in Las Vegas”.

          Then there is the fact that the merits of an award book are tied to the moment, which is fleeting. Most award winners are one week wonders and awards say more about the clique awarding than the author receiving it. Much like the Nobel Peace Prize which went as far as naming one who, like Chauncey Gardiner, had done nothing, was just “Being There”.

          The whole point of going Indie is lack of gatekeeping and straightjacketing, freely telling your story to your standards and letting readers judge. No corporate acquisitions committee or tony panel required.

          Indie awards are author income and reader satisfaction.
          At this point anything else awarded would be marketing.
          Fine if it matters to you but don’t expect the market to care.

      • Well, for starters, how would you set the criteria?

        “Lasting contribution to American literature.”

          • Of course. That’s why you take the credit for winning now. It’s no fun waiting for the score. It also lets the judges pretend they know these things. Some actually think they do.

  1. PG, I was unable to edit the above reply – I tried four different ways to mark the phrase “indies only,” saving each time, but the edits didn’t take.

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