Three Guesses Who Gets To Pick America's Next Top Novelist.

That's right (yawn) — You again. Simon and Schuster's Touchstone imprint, freshly burned by the whole Sobol prize snafu, has decided to give the whole 'publishing a book by a contest winner' thing another shot. But this time, the contest, called First Chapters, will be judged by You, via social networking site we've never heard of Gather.com. According to the Times, this is a last-gasp attempt by the "struggling book industry," which, as ever, is "eager to tap into mainstream tastes." We'll let Michael Cader have that one. Our problem with the First Chapters contest: it's too damn complicated. Here's how it works:

Each entry's first chapter gets posted on Gather.com, where it's voted on by members of the site. In the next round, the second chapters of the top 20 manuscripts will be posted, and they'll be voted on; a subsequent round will post the third chapters of the top 10 — then, more voting. The finalists get judged by the bigwigs at Touchstone (pictured), and the winner gets a whopping $5K from Gather plus the enormous privelege of having his or her book published.

Seriously, who has the patience for this shit? We know that some people have a lot of time on their hands (especially Clarence Rosario and Bob Loblaw), but who has time to read that many probably-bad first chapters? Oh, wait, we know who: literary agents with a vested interest in whether the chapters are any good.

Oh, You. Seriously, You're making us miss Them, that's how bad it's gotten.

One Click, One Vote To Publish A Winner
[NYT]

Earlier: Simon and Schuster Has a Bad Case of the Mondays