This is the third year that I've entered the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. In 2012 and 2013, I was kicked out of the contest during the first stage (the pitch stage). This year, I made the first cut and made it to the second stage of the contest. This is how it works:
The contests accepts 10,000 entries in five categories: General Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror and Young Adult. My novel is in the General Fiction category. To enter the contest, you have to submit a pitch (a 300 word description of your book like you would see on the back jacket), an excerpt from the beginning of your novel of 3000-5000 words (12-20 pages double-spaced), and the full manuscript (50,000-120,000 words).
Amazon selected editors reviewed the pitches and cut the entries down from 10,000 to 2,000 top entries. That means my pitch survived an 80% cut off the bat! I can't tell you how good that makes me feel. I darn near had a heart attack when I saw my name on the list of second round contestants in the general fiction category.
But the torture is far from over. Amazon selected editors and Amazon Vine Reviewers (the top customer reviewers on Amazon) will next read our excerpts and narrow the field from 2000 second round participants to 500 Quarter-Finalists, who will be announced on www.amazon.com/abna on April 14, 2014 (just days before my birthday). Amazon will post each of the Quarter-Finalists’ excerpts and their associated written reviews online at www.amazon.com/abna. Amazon customers may download and read the excerpts and then write a review and rate the excerpt using Amazon’s process for submitting online reviews. I am very nervous about this stage. Some of the participants from previous years received scathing reviews of their excerpts. Oh well, it's a tough business I'm getting into and if I want to survive I guess I'm going to have to grow a thick skin.
Publishers Weekly editors will then read the Quarter-Finalists' full manuscripts to rate and review them based on: originality of idea, plot, prose/writing style, character development, and overall strength of the submission. On June 13, 2014, the top 25 Semi-Finalists will be announced at www.amazon.com/abna and the Publishers Weekly reviews of their manuscripts may be posted on http://www.publishersweekly.com. I really hope to get to this stage of the contest, because if I get a positive review from Publishers Weekly, I can use it to market my book so long as I don't substantially alter it.
A panel of qualified judges selected by Amazon Publishing editors will then read each Semi-Finalist's manuscript and accompanying review and, using the Judging Criteria, will select one Finalist in each of the five categories to be announced on July 8, 2014. Amazon customers will then vote and select the Grand Prize Winner of the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Contest who will be announced on or about July 21, 2014.
The finalists receive a publishing contract and a $10,000 advance. The Grand Prize is a $50,000 advance and a publishing contract with Amazon Publishing.
I'm sitting here wishing I had spent more time editing the book I entered. I'm not going to reveal the name of the novel I submitted yet because I don't want to be disqualified. But if I make it to the quarter-finals, I'm going to be calling on you for your help. I know that I can count on you.