Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012

Y'all know about my FOMS, right? No? FOMS is an acronym for Fear of Missing Something. Gimme an event and I'm in. Throw a party and I HAVE to go, because if I DON'T something might happen and I will have missed it!

But see, these writing events have an additional purpose besides proving I am paranoid about what goes on in my absence... They provide structure to my writing life.

I've written 12 books, right? But the only ones I've polished adequately to SHARE have had deadlines to get them polished by... I have my writing contract, so those fit, but the others? This Amazon Contest...

So you want the Scoop?

What the Heck is it?

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is a novel contest whereby the winner(s) get a $15,000 writing contract with Penguin for their book! Now just to be clear, that $15K is an advance, so if you sell the heck out of the book, you get more money... and as advances to debut authors go, that is relatively generous, though it depends of course on genre. The only type of books that regularly do better than this, though, for an unproven author, are award winners and thrillers.

Who Can Enter?

I think you have to be 13... There are a handful of excluded countries and I don't KNOW why... You need to ENTER the book under the name you want it published under. You can't be an Amazon or Penguin employee... mostly though, it is first come first serve within the two week period submission is open.

WHAT Should Be Submitted?

Fiction. Novels. No non-fiction, no anthologies or collections. There are two categories, general and young adult. Each category will take 5000 entries. All entries should be between 50,000 and 150,000 words. This is a HUGE range (though I confess to having to pare mine the first time I tried). But honestly, this is more leeway than you will ever get from publishers, normally, (though some YA books, particularly 'middle grade' are shorter). There is a 'nothing offensive' rule that seems to be an 'only applied if...' but they don't include erotica, though sex and language that fit the story have never disqualified anyone that I know of. I think it is just 'genre erotica' that is out. Books can have been SELF published or NEVER published, but not published through anyone. (they ask you not to shop it while it is still in the contest, but that is shopping for PUBLISHER as I understand it--you can still query it. In fact that was how I ended up with Fabulous Agent #2--querying my semi-finalist.

When Does This Happen?

it happens when it's like this outside...
Submission this year is between January 23 and February 5, 2012. Now remember, first come first serve... that said, YA has never quite filled and general fiction takes several days (more than a week?) What I do is enter early and keep working on it—you can upload revised versions until they close, and they close when they are FULL or Feb 5. That way at least ONE version is in there, on the off chance they fill up, but they get (hopefully) better as I continue revisions.

HOW does one submit?

Go HERE and they will have the link and up to the date instructions. They don't currently have the entry links, probably because they are not yet open.

How is it Judged:

Round 1: 5000 per category becomes 1000 based on a 300 word PITCH. (hint: get a ton of feedback. The discussion boards have a spot for it. There is a facebook group for it. Ask experienced people. This is the round where your BOOK is not speaking for you—your marketing device is, and it is a different skill, so get help!)

Round 2: 1000 becomes 250 based on the excerpt. This is the FIRST 3000 – 5000 words. (hint: if your book hasn't reached the 'exciting part' yet, you will want to revise... but you would want to revise ANY book that takes that long if you are hoping for traditional publishing. Hint 2: leave it on a cliffhanger if possible. You want them craving more. So 3000 words that leave them craving is far better than getting every last word allowed in there... in fact I'd err toward the shorter end ANYWAY—the feeling of 'is it over already? Helps you.) [note: everybody who makes this round gets two reviews on their excerpt]--those who get past this round are 'quarter finalists'.

Round 3: 250 becomes 50. This is based on the whole book. Just make it as good as possible. Winners this round are semi-finalists (note, 50/5000 is top 1%, so this is a big deal)

Round 4: 50 becomes 3. This is based on Publisher's weekly editor reads of the semi-finalists (and all semi-finalists can use those reviews to help sell the book if they are good, improve it if not.) All 3 finalists—which is really 6, 3 from each category—get a trip to Seattle (or some other city they pick) for the final event where the winner is announced.

Why the Heck Would I Subject Myself to This?

It's FUN! It is actually set up to mirror the agent or publisher process well—pitch, partial, full, so it is a good experience, but when you query, you are ALONE. HERE, you do it with 9000 of your closest friends. Seriously—very supportive. It's a great bunch of people. And of course it provides the infamous deadline some of us really need.

If you have questions about rules and such, they are all here.

So who's in?! (Come on. All the cool kids are doing it!)


Enid Wilson said...

Good on you. I won't be able to submit this year. Perhaps next year. And I like the trophy shelf. I've a similar shelf but it's with junks at the moment. You gave me motivation to "renovate" it.

The Spinster’s Vow

Christine Murray said...

I'm going to enter the YA novel I entered last year. I LOVE ABNA, it's how I started meeting other writers online. I think it's worth entering just for that.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Good luck, Hart!

Old Kitty said...

Good luck to all!! Especially to you lovely Hart!! I'm so excited for you - so much that I want to get most NAKED now!! LOL! Take care

Ted Cross said...

I don't have my new book ready yet, and I don't see the point in trying my old fantasy book again, even if I feel the one judge didn't bother to really read it last year.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good luck, Hart!

LTM said...

Hmm... I'm thinking about trying it this year w/MS #2. I might chat w/agent, look at restrictions, and see. I'll keep you posted! :o) <3

Hart Johnson said...

Enid-oh that isn't MY trophy shelf... i'm not nearly that organized... teehee

Christine-YAY! I'm in with a new one... or rather an older one...

Elizabeth, thank you!

Jenny-it is definitely a way to spreak the nudist movement! All those fellow entrants get the naked argument!

Ted-Oh, I think judges can be luck of the draw. I'm not sure I'd bypass it so quickly!

Alex-Thank you!

Leigh-I hope you do! On my other profile, maybe read the link Ian attached--I look at this as great for a book that has some quirks that make it a hard traditional sell.

Krista M said...

I'm in! :) I've been working on doing a last minute revision and hopefully I can do better this year! :)

Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

Bless you and best of luck. Still not a "cool kid" I guess :o)))

Anonymous said...

So what you're saying is that I need to sprint a whole lot more, write a whole lot more, and take a good look at it before February 5, make changes, and go for broke? I don't think I can have it in a submittable fashion by then. Oh my!

Bonnie Rae said...

I'm in!

Hart Johnson said...

Krista-Definitely spend a ton of time on that pitch! Good luck!

Mary-You're COOL... you just aren't a follower!

Joshua-lots of work, but I'm sure you can do it! (and now I know how the Shwa fits!)


Anonymous said...

You know, I was just being goofy with that username, but now I'm afraid to change it because Facebook has new rules and I don't want to get busted and deactivated.

Cold As Heaven said...

I might get my book finished by 5th Feb, but then I need to polish it, and then translate to English. Probably not possible this time >:)

Cold As Heaven

Sarah Ahiers said...

you know, i've never given this much thought before. This is the first year where i've felt tempted, but i just don't think i'll have the time.
Maybe next year

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hello Your Royal Tartness... Happy New Year!

I posted about this on Friday. You know I'm in. Giving BG another chance. Hopefully the vine reviewers won't be so prudish. I am considering entering in the general fiction category this time. That way they won't cringe with the sexual overtones I have in the beginning.

How are you? Did you have a great holiday?

Geez, it's been ages!

Journaling Woman said...

Awesome! If this is yearly, I'll wait until next time.

Thanks for the info, Girl.


Hart Johnson said...

Joshua-I think if you argue 'nickname' originally, you are okay. I have two profiles and neither is my legal name.

CaH--yeah, that translating piece is probably huge... next year!

Sarah-Oh come on!!!

Michael, excellent!

Teresa-is indeed yearly! Every reason to think it will keep happening!

Helena said...

As you know, Hart, I entered ABNA just once (that's where we met!) and that took guts and hope and emotional cojones. Don't think I'll be doing it this year, but good luck to all of you who take the leap.

Michael Offutt, Visitor from the Future said...

Oh I should try and enter this. It does sound fun.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Good luck to all who enter!

Anonymous said...

I don't where else to comment:
I was tagged in a blog and I am tagging you as well, it is kind of a getting to know you thing. I figured this may be fun, so I'll go ahead and participate as best as I can.
This is a once and only time.

Please go to my blog post to check it out:


No pressure to participate either.
I do hope you do this.

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

i never knew what this was! thanks for the education. maybe next year i'll have ms ready!

Charity Bradford said...

Google is being mean. This just showed up in my feed. *grumble*

Anyway, good luck! I'm entering the adult category again this year.