Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest

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EDIT: I’m putting this at the top because it’s important and you don’t necessarily have to read my drivel after. All your material: pitch, excerpt and manuscript have to be submitted at the same time! This means you have very little time to get it together people! You can edit your submission until the Feb 6th date or till they get 5,000 applicants in each category, whichever comes first, but I would suggest having everything as prepared as it can be before submitting.  I don’t know how I missed this, but it seems there’s a whole walk through video on how to enter, so here goes!  Submission walkthrough

Time has flown and the opening of the contest is SO close! It was suggested to me, by the lovely Emlyn Chand that perhaps I should discuss the contest a little for those who don’t know about it.

The contest is hosted yearly by Amazon and CreateSpace. It’s open to 10,000 applicants. 5,000 in general fiction and the other 5,000 for young adult fiction.  There are five rounds for you to get through, and I am assured that is NO easy task. The prize? Each winner gets a publishing contract with Penguin AND  that includes a $15,000 advance. Not too shabby folks.

The first round is the 300 word pitch (well, no more than 300 words. It can be shorter). This part of the contest opens on at 12:01 am EST on January 24th. That’s next Monday folks.  If you’re going to be a part of the contest this year, you have a week to get your act together and  have a pitch ready to go. I can tell you I will be staying up late Sunday night to ensure that my application is accepted. It’s first come, first serve and I have no idea how quickly that 5,000 applicants in my area, young adult, fills up (although, FYI,  it will be open for submissions until Feb. 6th). I can sacrifice a little sleep for the furthering of my work. I’m sure you can as well.  To help you along, there is a pitch thread on Amazon where you can post your work and others will help you tighten it up or tell you if it sucks. Although to be fair, I have seen nothing but polite responses over there, so even if your pitch is horrid, I am sure they will be kind and merely give you suggestions on how to fix it, rather than tell you to set your computer on fire and forget about writing forever.

So, let’s say you make it past the pitch portion of the contest. You’ll be 1 in 1,000 for your category and you better have your 3,000 – 5,000 word excerpt ready to go. While you may think more words will be better for your cause, make sure you’re not cutting off in mid-paragraph or sentence. It’s best to find a place where it feels good to stop; a cliffhanger, the end of a scene, etc. 3,000 words is still a lot to show how well you write. Don’t be greedy.

Only 250 excepts in each category will be chosen to move onto the next round. That’s a whole heck of a lot of people to cut, so make sure you read over that excerpt  and have others critique it as well. If you’ve make it to the next round, I hope your story is finished.

In the quarterfinal round is when you send in your manuscript. They have guidelines for how it’s to be formatted, so be sure to follow them! No one wants to get disqualified for something silly like using a 10 point font. Your manuscripts will be read by Publishers Weekly reviewers and only the top 50 in each category move on. See how tight this is getting now?

If you’re lucky enough to make it into the semifinals, Penguin USA editors get to be the ones to read through your manuscript.  They look at the info from previous rounds and they will choose three authors in each category. That’s right, just three people. Teeeeeeen thousand down to three.

Should you be one of those three, not only will I be super envious, but you’ll get your manuscript read by tons of Amazon customers who are the ones to ultimately pick the two grand winners with their votes.

It’s a long process starting in January and finally ending mid-June when the grand winners are announced. That’s half a year! Should I keep moving through the rounds I’m sure the anticipation will leave me fidgety and possibly with an ulcer…but it will be worth it in the end whether I get published or just get back important feedback on my work.

I wish everyone entering the best of luck and if you don’t make it far, don’t fret! Take the critiques to heart and work on improving your writing. Remember you’re going up against 4,999 other people and there is always next year.

Here are some of important links for the contest. Be sure to read the rules carefully!

Sign up!
Sign up for updates on Createspace
Amazon’s how to enter

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9 responses »

  1. Thank you for this post! I'm glad to see we won't be going up against each other–I'll be submitting in the General Fiction category. A question: Should the excerpt be the first 3-5000 words from your novel, or can it come from anywhere within your manuscript? If you're up for it, let's review each other's pitches and excerpts for maximum tightening-uppness!

    -Emlyn

  2. Gooood question! The excerpt needs to come from the beginning. I think they want to see if it pulls people in, ya know?

    I would love to swap them. My pitch I'm pretty happy with, but my excerpt I want to go over a couple of times more. 😀

  3. Yep just the pitch. If you go to the link where it says sign up for updates you'll see all the dates on the right hand side about how long the rounds last and when you need the next piece ready by.

  4. Hey, I just reread the rules, and it looks like you have to submit it all at the same time. Here's what it says:

    Once you have registered, follow the instructions on the entry form and upload: (1) the complete version of your manuscript (“Manuscript”); (2) up to the first 5,000 words, but not less than 3,000 words, of your Manuscript, excluding any table of contents, foreword, and acknowledgments (“Excerpt”); (3) a pitch of your Manuscript consisting of up to 300 words (“Pitch”); and (4) the personal information required on the entry form. (1-4 collectively, an “Entry”).

    So I think you need to do it all at once. But they only look at one portion at a time.

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