Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Teary Good-bye: RIP ABNA

So Monday afternoon I got news that for me was very very sad.

I've entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest five times. I expected it to be an annual event for a very long time, but sadly, Amazon has another bright shiny idea that they are allowing to take its place.

And it is not UN-shiny... they have something called Kindle Scout where readers get to nominate and vote on pre-published books based on their descriptions... Winners get a small advance ($1,500) and the full power of Amazon's promoting arm...


You knew there was a but, eh? And not a butt, sadly...

They only want COPYEDITED, PROFESSIONAL COVER-WEARING books... which means those significant expenses are on the author... [I mean someone who has already decided to self-publish has nothing to lose, as these should be done anyway, but it DOES dim them compared to other reputable publishers, other than that marketing arm, I mean]. For ABNA, if you won, then they helped you with those things...

And it is on a rolling system... sure they are doing more of them, but there are no giant “8000 cut at pitch” bonding moments among writers. The common journey is 90% of the beauty of ABNA... a pilgrimage in a writer's life, if you will...

And my final issue? No deadline. This is a rolling thing, so there is no urgency. How am I EVER going to get something publication-ready with no deadline!?

So For My ABNA Wake...

The BOOKS (and how I did)

2010: Confluence (the first I ever did and one that will need to be split in two if I ever decide to visit it again. Kicked out at pitch.

2011: Kahlotus Disposal Site (6th book written—this has been repped and subbed and is now back in my lap): This was a semi-finalist in the first year they split General Fiction from Young Adult, so top 50 of 5000 YA.

2012: Legacy (2nd book finished): Quarter-finalist and harshest review at that point—the reviewer found it unnecessarily comlicated, which it may have been. I would also split this in two if I revisit it.

2013: Medium Wrong (11th book): Kicked out at pitch. Of note, this was the year they went from two categories to five, so YA dropped from 1000 passed along to 400. This is the YA after Kahlotus in mind for polishing.

2014: A Shot in the Light: Parts I-IV (13th book, self published serially one part at a time): This book was a semi-finalist in the mystery/thriller category (you can get the full bundled set for $5.99 if you want, or it is for sale as a trilogy if you have already read part of it). Semi-finalist meant top 5—there were only 25 total semi-finalists (instead of the 100 there were when there were only 2 categories)

Now I'm not saying doing well in this contest has been great for my career, but it HAS been great for my confidence. I can write. (my marketing skills on the other hand, are sorely deficient)

But By FAR the BEST part of ABNA has been the solid friendships I've formed. The people I met first on ABNA and then have reinforced either HERE or on Facebook are probably those writer relationships that are strongest (other than my Harry Potter peeps who've been with me since before I was “out” as a writer). I couldn't possibly list them all, but there have been some wonderful successes and some hardships and a whole lotta fun.

On the ABNA site there is a place called the Manse (the origin of the picture below... our little fantasy world) where the most silliness occurs, but there are facebook groups, and over the years I've met people THROUGH ABNA friends who have ALSO been involved.

I really wanted to list all my buddies, but then realized the impossibility of such a task. I will, though, give a shout to the couple who have blogs I read regularly, since blogging is what we are about around here...

Megan Bosnic: Creative Chaos
Allison DeLuca: A Fresh Pot of Tea
Michael DiGesu: In Time
Johanna Garth: Losing Sanity
Jenny Milchman: Suspense Your Disbelief
Erica Olson and Christy Hintz: Erica and Christy
Gae Polisner: Trying to Stay Afloat in a Sea of Word
Helena Soister: Becoming Layla

I'm sure I've missed some, so PLEASE don't be offended. Some others just don't blog very much or I am misremembering and feel like I knew them before we went through ABNA, so no disrespect intended if I met you there and am remembering wrong.

In any case, there are MANY MANY more people who've become good friends from this contest and I will sorely miss it. Though I will have the writer friends with me forever.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

So the original version of ABNA is gone and replaced with Kindle Scout? Bummer.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

ABNA gone? I told myself every year I wanted to try it and yet, I had no book to offer, just a few chapters.

I feel sad. :(

Roland D. Yeomans said...

ABNA will be missed. I guess it was too much trouble for them, especially after Penguin left the contest. I've noticed lately that Amazon is becoming less Indie author friendly. Amazon is having money problems after all and that prompts a certain amount of re-structuring.

I guess we will have to be our own deadline setter now. Great to see how you kept in there until you got so close last year. May 2015 bring even greater success.

Liz Crowe said...

Huh, well, I never made it past stage one but I did get an email "inviting me" to this Scout thing (it was at that time nameless). I sent back an email with tons of questions that went unanswered. I may try it although the thought of paying for edits and covers for something that gets voted on before I can make any money off it makes me a little queasy. However, self publishing is a roller coaster and queasiness is inherent. Thanks for the update Tart! And here is your unsolicited marketing tip for today: Make the words "A Shot in the Light" (which I loved) a LIVE LINK to the buy page. It's a subtle way to sell.

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

Bummer. I think it was a shiny ring for indies. The new shiny is not as shinny. :(

Helena said...

Oh, darling Hart, what a disappointment! But surely another and better contest elsewhere might present itself soon, and considering what a strong competitor and writer you are, you'll ace it. Meanwhile, you became a traditionally published writer (hurrah!) and an indie published one (brava!).

Thanks so much for mentioning me. We met through ABNA, didn't we? But where I flunked out at my one and only pitch, you kept charging back into the fray and got so far.

Yeah, I suck at marketing too. I figure I'll get famous for photographing a bigfoot while you snap a chupacabra, and that will make agents and publishers come knocking on our doors. At least that's my plan.

Arlee Bird said...

I guess Amazon had their reasons and I'm sure they were economically related and nothing to do with writing arts. Your outcome wasn't to shabby though. You had a good history with ABNA.

Oh well, there are other contests and opportunities. .

Tossing It Out

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hmmm. Kindle Scout sounds interesting, too. Thanks for the heads-up on that. So many of these opportunities also provide a way to make new wonderful online friends. That's one thing I love about the web.