Monday, February 21, 2011

The Final Countdown

In just three days time, four if you count today, my life will be forever changed. Okay, fine, it won't be changed in that earth shattering way, but it will be changed. In three days time, four if you count today, I'll find out if I'm moving on to round two of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.

As I've told you in prior posts, I've entered this contest every year since its inception. Three of the four years I've managed to get as far as round two. I'm hoping to continue that trend this year. In the last two years, making it to round two has become something more of a challenge than it was in the first two years. This is thanks to the pitch. The pitch is a three hundred word summary of your novel that must not only tell the judges how your book ends but also explain that you understand your target audience. It's a lot of information to cram into three hundred words and make it both eloquent and believable. I managed to do it last year so I'm hoping to pull it off again this year. You see, they won't even pass the book along to readers to judge its actual merit if you can't even write a decent pitch. I have mixed feelings about this. I won't get in to them now as I've addressed this before. Let's just say it's a lot of pressure as is this contest.

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards is a long contest with a labyrinth of layers. Round One is the submission phase in which the first five thousand entrants are accepted into two categories- general fiction and young adult fiction. Round two moves the top two thousand entrants in each category and allows a small sample of their story to be read and rated by Amazon's top reviewers. Round three is the quarter finals and entrants move on based on the rankings from the reviews. The semi finals is where things get interesting. The field is narrowed and excerpts of the novels are posted on line for all Amazon customers to review. The finals are next followed by the announcing of two winners, one in each category. There's both a cash prize and the joy of mainstream publication. While the contest begins in January, the winners aren't announced until June. Yes, it takes six months.

Every year I tell myself I am not going to obsess over this contest. I am not going to count the days and constantly remind myself and my poor husband of how many days are left. I'm not even going to think about it. I tell myself these lies every year, and this year is no exception. Not only do I want to win for the publication and cash prize, but I want that validation as a writer. I want to know I have talent. I want all of those agents and publishing houses who rejected me to wish they hadn't passed.

For now, I'd settle for moving to round two. Of course, if I do that will reset the clock. I'll have another month to obsessively wonder if I'm making it to the next round. One can only hope.

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