David Leadbeater has won the inaugural £20k UK Kindle Storyteller Award for his self-published crime thriller The Relic Hunters.
Leadbeater received the prize, for a previously unpublished English-language book uploaded to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), from actress and literacy ambassador Lily Cole at a ceremony at The Ned in London last night (25th July).
In addition to the £20,000 cash prize, Leadbeater will receive a dedicated marketing campaign for his book, as well as access to mentoring and the chance to have his work translated into other languages.
Accepting the prize, Leadbeater said it was "amazing to win" and went on to thank his family for their constant support and Amazon for providing the platform KDP.
Amy Worth, UK Kindle Content Director and one of the judges, said: “Though it was a very difficult decision to choose one book from such a terrific shortlist, the judges and I were particularly excited about David’s book. It is a real page-turner, full of action and is a brilliant example of great storytelling.”
The winning entry is an archaeological mystery mixed heavily with the adventure genre. It follows relic smuggler Guy Bodie across the world as he tracks down famous objects throughout history with the help of his team along the way. Before this book, Leadbeater, from York, had written 23 Kindle international bestsellers.
During the ceremony, Cole said she supports anything that makes publishing "more democratic", while Doug Gurr, UK country manager for Amazon, said the company was "particularly excited to increase accessibility for authors" by providing an opportunity for writers "who perhaps might not have got out there".
The Relic Hunters was selected from thousands of entries and a "diverse" shortlist of six titles. It triumphed over a book about windsurfing around Britain by Jono Dunnett (currently windsurfing around Europe), well as YA science fiction from Joanna Mazurkiewicz, a book about an immortal private detective by Orlando A. Sanchez, historical fiction from Tony Riches and a lesbian romance by Jade Winters.
The winner was decided on by readers and a panel of literary judges, including Cole; author Rachel Abbott; founder of the The Alliance of Independent Authors, Orna Ross; the Metro’s books editor Claire Allfree; and members of the Amazon Books team, UK head of Kindle Singles and chair of judges, Andrew Rosenheim; UK Kindle content director, Amy Worth; and UK editorial director for Amazon Publishing, Emilie Marneur.
“It was extremely encouraging to see so many brilliant stories entered in to this competition and even more encouraging to see just how well these stories resonated with readers,” added Alessio Santarelli, EU Kindle content director for Amazon. “We hope that this award has encouraged aspiring authors around the world to continue writing and developing stories that are engaging readers worldwide.”