Last week I shared with you the anticipated announcement of the quarter finalists in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. Given that I’d made the second round, I had a chance to be one of two-hundred-fifty contestants who’d move on to the all important quarter final round. Last we talked, I promised you one of two things would happen this week. I’d either share my elation of advancement or the agony of dream crushing defeat. Okay, that’s a little overdramatic, but I’m a writer. Drama is part of what I do.
As you’ve no doubt guessed by the title of this blog, I didn’t make the next round. To be honest, I was disappointed but not surprised. Seeing as how I haven’t made it to the quarter finals in the last five years, I didn’t expect to make it this time. My ability to advance hinged on selected Amazon reviewers liking my novel. It seems the opinions had to be unanimous for that to happen. Unfortunately for me, I got two rather mixed reviews.
The first was a short review that proclaimed my story to be predictable. According to the reviewer, readers knew what would happen before it actually happened. Good would triumph over evil; a plot line the reviewer felt was overused. While I’m not at all bitter about this (okay, maybe just a little), that statement demonstrates the fallibility of the reviewers only being allowed to see no more than the first five thousand words of the story. Had they been granted access to the pitch we were required to submit, they would’ve seen this is an atypical story in which good and evil join forces to ensure each side maintains a proper balance. That aside, this reviewer did say I was a good writer and he could see me becoming a best seller with a different kind of story. I liked that!
The second reviewer, on the other hand, gave the sample a glowing review. She admitted she didn’t expect to be drawn in but was. She even took it a step further to say she could see the story appealing to adults and teens alike. This was my favorite review, for obvious reasons.
I didn’t move on, and I was admittedly down about it. I was also a little unhappy to see that only two reviewers determined my ability to do so. With as varied as readers’ tastes are, I would’ve liked to have seen a wider sample audience participate in the review process with a majority opinion being the deciding factor. As contestants, we’re offered a survey in which we can provide feedback on our contest experience and this will be incorporated into my feedback.
So, where’s the twist I promised you? The twist is this: the day after learning I didn’t advance in arguably one of my favorite writing contests, I received an email from another agent asking to see a partial of my newest young adult novel. This isn’t the same novel I entered in the contest. It’s the novel I wrote afterward. I now have two agents looking at the full manuscript and one agent reviewing a partial.
I may not have moved on the contest, but this dream is far from over. Just hang in there with me, and one of these days you’ll see my novels in print.