Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

A purely personal post this afternoon, with a bit of a revelation: I entered the Amazon Breathrough Novel Award (ABNA). My entry is the first novel I published, Shadow Song. It’s an historical fantasy, based upon an actual tragedy that occurred in the early 1830s in the village of Hornings Mills, Ontario. For the most part, Shadow Song has received four and five star reader reviews, as well as a few starred reviews from blog reviewers.

Apparently there were 2,000 entrants this year. Today the first ABNA cut was announced, based upon a 300 word pitch, reducing the number of entrants to 1,000.

I’m feeling a bit bewildered and tentatively pleased at the moment; I made the first cut. That news precipitates a few palpitations and a great deal of anxiety, and a grin that’s making my face ache. But, let’s not get carried away just yet. The next round, February 24 to March 13, 2011, takes those 1,000 down to 250, judged by Amazon’s expert reviewers and editors, and at least one Amazon Top Reviewer. The judges will be reading a 5,000 word excerpt.

The expert reviewers rate each Excerpt on a scale of 1 to 5 on each of the following criteria:

  1. Overall Strength of Excerpt
  2. Prose/Style
  3. Plot/Hook
  4. Originality of Idea

Each second round excerpt will receive two reviews, and the top 250 entries from each category based on the average overall strength of excerpt score will advance to the Quarter-Finals.

And so begins another month practicing the fine virtue, and art, of patience.

There are some of you who are going to wonder why it is a renegade author-turned-publisher, who has been flying the indie flag for some time, would enter a literary award contest that could possibly result in a $15,000US advance and publishing contract with Penguin.

It is a purely business decision. I need a wider audience, and with the award a semblance of credibility even some of my own peers have been reluctant to bestow. While more and more authors are turning to self-publishing as a viable alternative, there is still a stigma, and with that stigma a prejudice that if an author has self-published, the work can’t be any good, otherwise an agent, and ergo a publisher, would have picked up the work.

So, we’ll see how far I get. I really have few expectations. But I will keep you posted.


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