At 12:01 a.m. on January 24, 2011, the first entrant in the General Fiction category of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest will step into one-half of the ABNA corral. On the other side of a virtual picket fence, the first entrant in the Young Adult category will do the same. They won’t bother staring each other down because no quarrel exists between them. Another reason is, if they don’t hurry up and get out of the way, they’ll be trampled underfoot by the remaining 4999 entrants in each category.
Sometime between June 9, 2011 and June 16, 2011, only one writer will be left standing in each half of the corral. Two other writers in each category will be in attendance, struggling to appear happy for the wordfight winners without revealing how much they hate them.
In between these two moments, a lot of stuff happens.
First round (February 7 – 22, 2011): Amazon editors read and rate each Pitch on originality of idea, overall strength of Pitch, and overall quality of writing. The top 1000 entrants in each category will be left standing.
Second Round (February 24 – March 13, 2011): Amazon reviewers, including Amazon editors and at least one Amazon Top Reviewer, judge and rate the Excerpts of each second-round Entry based on a scale of 1 to 5 on each of the following criteria: overall strength of Excerpt, prose/style, plot/hook, and originality of idea. Each second-round Entry will receive two reviews, and the top 250 Entries in each category based on the overall strength-of-excerpt score will be left standing for the Quarter Finals.
Quarter Finals (March 22 – April 25, 2011: Each Quarter-Finalist Excerpt and its associated reviews will be posted online. Amazon customers may download and read any Excerpt, write a review, and rate the Excerpt. Publishers Weekly will read, prepare a review, and rate each Manuscript on a scale of 1 to 5 based on each of the following criteria: character development, originality of idea, plot, prose/style, and overall strength of submission. These reviews will be posted within each entrant’s CreateSpace.com account on or about April 25, 2011. The Quarter Finalist-Entries will be ranked based upon the average judging criteria score given to each Entry by Publishers Weekly, and the top 50 Entries in each category will advance to the Semi-Finals.
Semi-Finals (April 26 – May 23, 2011): Names of the Semi-Finalists will be posted on Amazon.com along with their respective Publishers Weekly review. A Penguin judging panel will review the Manuscript and accompanying reviews of each Semi-Finalist Entry and select 3 Finalists in each category. On or about May 16, 2011, Amazon will begin notifying potential Finalists, and the Finalists will be announced on Amazon on or about May 24, 2011.
Finalist Period (May 24 – June 1, 2011): Amazon customers will be able to download each Finalist Excerpt, which at Amazon’s sole discretion may be expanded by up to 5000 words. Customers will select the Winner by voting for one Finalist in each category. Each Finalist Manuscript will be read and reviewed by a celebrity reviewing panel consisting of one well-known author, one agent, and one editor. All reviews of the Finalists’ Entries will remain posted online and available for viewing.
Grand Prize Event: Prior to announcement of the Winners on or about June 13, 2011, the Finalists will be flown to New York City or other venue for publicity and promotional interviews and awards ceremony. The Last Writer Standing in each half of the corral will receive a $15,000 advance against royalties and a full publishing contract with Penguin to market and distribute their Manuscript as a published book.
Okay, then. All I have to do is submit an Entry judged to be in the top .02%.
Actually, it’s not quite that bad. According to past contest history, the other two Finalists in each category have an excellent chance of signing with an agent/publisher. To compete for that opportunity, all I have to do is be in the top .06%.
That makes me feel a lot better.
I think I’ll go watch a movie. Or Two.