Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Coincidence or Fate?

At the beginning of the year, I shared with you my plans for approaching my writing career in 2015. I set several goals for myself, some lofty and largely out of my control and some that I could easily manage to meet.

One of the smaller decisions I made was to cease and desist entering any writing contests. I started entering these contests several years ago. I told myself it was so that I would have some writing credits to add to my query letters for agents and publishers since I had no published work. That was true, but let’s be honest. There was also a little bit of ego involved. Winning or even placing high in the standings is not only gratifying but it validates your talent; gives you a reason to believe you should keep trying.

The one contest that I was still on the fence about, and having a hard time letting go of, was the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, also known as ABNA. With the exception of one year, I’d entered every year since its inception. The contest was attractive to me because of its lack of entry fee as well as its Amazon sponsorship. Everyone knows Amazon is a major player in the online retail industry and book sales and publishing is no exception.

ABNA typically starts around mid-January and goes through several rounds before the winner is announced in mid-June. Over the last few years, it’s produced some great novels and there have even been authors that weren’t winners who still managed to catch the attention of agents and publishers based on their standings in ABNA. There’s also a camaraderie between the participants that you can’t find in any other contest.

With so much to offer, I’m sure you can see why I debated about entering ABNA. The funny thing is, I let it slip my mind for a bit. I got busy working on my third and fourth books in the Time for Love series. I was writing one and editing another. And I was having so much fun that I didn’t think much about ABNA. Once in a while, it would cross my mind, but it was gone just as quickly.

Last week, it occurred to me that the entry deadline had probably passed and I found it odd I hadn’t received an email announcing the contest. I took a moment to do a little research and found out ABNA is no more. It’s been replaced with the Kindle Scout program. According to information obtained on Amazon, this is a reader powered program. Authors submit manuscripts, along with their book cover, and readers vote for their favorites. The winners are given a $1500 advance and a five year renewable contract with Amazon and are supposed to be able to keep their rights.

Reactions to the death of ABNA are mixed, but most past participants seem devastated, some with good reason. Apparently, the announcement to ax ABNA came around the same time the opening of contest was normally announced. Those writers who spent the last year diligently working on their manuscripts felt cheated. I understand those feelings, but I don’t feel cheated at all. I find it rather interesting that the same year I decide to move on from writing contests is the year my favorite contest is no more. 

Is that an amazing coincidence or the finger of fate pointing me in the right direction? Who knows, but it’s certainly something to think about.

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