The five books on the shortlist for the 2020 Kindle Storyteller UK Award include a vampire thriller, a detective novel, a feelgood novel, an LGBTQ romance, and a non-fiction travel book contending for the £20,000 prize.
The five books on the shortlist are:
Fitting In by Amanda Radley — an LGBTQ romance with a theme on autism
Hear No Evil by J M Dalgliesh — a detective crime thriller
Llama Drama by Anna McNuff — a non-fiction travel book about cycling through South America
Of the Blood by Cameo Renae — a vampire thriller
Sunshine and Second Chances by Kim Nash — a feelgood novel about four friends going on holiday to Portugal
The award was open to any work in the English language published on Kindle Direct Publishing between May a and August 31 this year. A panel of judges will decide which shortlisted book will win the £20,000 prize, a golden Kindle, marketing support on Amazon.co.uk and mentoring. The winner will be announced in October.
The judging panel includes TV presenter and author Claudia Winkleman, self-published star authors L J Ross and Mark Dawson, last year’s Kindle Storyteller Award winner Ian W Sainsbury, Sacha Black from the Alliance of Independent Authors, Amazon EU books director Simon Johnson and UK books editor Jen Barrett.
Claudia Winkleman says, ‘This year, more than ever, has highlighted the need for brilliant books and brilliant writers. It’s fantastic to see so many entries across such a variety of genres. I’ve had loads of fun reading them and am excited to join the panel selecting the 2020 winner. But it’s not just down to us, the readers play a huge part too, which is fantastic.’
Readers played a role in the shortlist selection, as their reviews and ratings are taken into account. Other criteria for selection includes the number of reads, sales creativity of content, and quality and style of writing.
Amazon EU books director Simon Johnson says, ‘Every year we look forward to the entries coming in and I’m delighted that we’ve seen a record-breaking number this year. Not only that, the quality of entries is impressive and I’m looking forward to reading my way through the shortlist.’
There were more than 10,000 entries for the fourth year of the Kindle Storyteller Award which requires entries to be published in both ebook and print formats.
The authors on the shortlist
All the shortlisted authors this year are experienced writers who have published books previously.
Sunshine and Second Chances is the third novel by Kim Nash, who is also head of publicity for Bookouture, the digital publisher which proved to be a marketing phenomenon after being set up as an indie by Oliver Rhodes who sold the firm to Hachette. She is also a book blogger at her site Kim the Bookworm.
J M (Jason) Dalgleish is probably the best known author of the five as he has written around a dozen novels in two best-selling series of detective crime thrillers set in the UK in the vein of Scandi Noir. Hear No Evil is the fifth in his Hidden Norfolk Murder Mystery series while his other detective series is set in Yorkshire.
Anna McNuff is only the third author to have a non-fiction book on the Storyteller shortlist during the four years the award has been running. Llama Drama is the third of her Anna’s Adventures travel books which include a New Zealand memoir and a book about cycling through all 50 states of the USA. She has also written the children’s book,100 Adventures to Have Before You Grow Up.
Cameo Renae is a prolific fantasy author with over 20 books published. She is the only American writer on the shortlist and has had considerable success with her Hidden Wings series. Of The Blood was published in May this year and is the first book in a new series (Heir of Blood and Fire) with the second book in the series scheduled to be published in November.
Amanda Radley is another prolific author, with more than 20 LGBTQ novels to her name. She has her own publishing imprint, Heartsome Publishing, with Emma Sterner-Radley, which aims to help to offset carbon emissions by planting trees. Fitting In is a romance set in the offices of a shopping centre where the boss’s daughter is sent to work.
In terms of reviews for the individual books on the shortlist, J M Dalgleish is way ahead of the others with 357 reviews on the Amazon.co.uk store while Kim Nash has 125 reviews and Anna McNuff has 124 reviews, which is a high figure for a non-fiction travel book. Amanda Radley’s book has 47 reviews and Cameo Renae’s novel has 45 reviews.
However, while reviews and ratings play a part in selecting the shortlist, the winner is picked by the panel of judges and it looks like a fascinating choice this year. I haven’t read any of the books yet but I wonder, having seen the 1,000 glowing reviews for Anna McNuff’s first travel book on the Amazon UK site, plus the attraction of reading about travel amid the present pandemic restrictions, whether this might be the year that a non-fiction book wins the Storyteller prize.