From the Associated Press, via the International Herald Tribune:
Controversial new Sobol Award canceled due to lack of interest
NEW YORK: The Sobol Award, a controversial new literary contest that offered agentless writers a $100,000 (€76,888) first prize and a contract with Simon & Schuster for the top three winners, has been canceled.
The Sobol Award was a for-profit scheme launched by technology entrepreneur Gur Shomron, with the stated goal “to discover talented, unknown fiction writers and help them get the recognition they deserve.”
With an entry fee of $85 and a business plan anticipating as many as 50,000 manuscripts–of which three were to have been published by Simon & Schuster–clearly, the goal was to help as many struggling writers as possible. (While discovering up to $4,250,000 talented, unknown U.S. dollars.)
In the end, only about 1,000 manuscripts were submitted. The entrants have been promised a full refund.
Here’s my favorite part:
Shomron told the AP that he had invested more than $1 million (€770,000) in the prize and that a full-time staff of four would be laid off.
“I’m losing a lot of money,” he said. “But what I’m really sorry about is all the writers who were participating and wanted to be successful.”
Yes, if things had gone according to plan, then he could have gone to bed happy–on a mattress of crisp greenbacks–knowing that he’d helped .006% of the participating writers find success. Huzzah!