ABNA – The “Entry”

Official Rules for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest total almost 12 pages. The document had to have been written by lawyers, or, at the very least, they evaluated every possible legal implication of each word. In spite of that annoying obstacle, I was able to extract the most pertinent information. This post deals with what is referred to as the “Entry.”

The Entry consists of four parts: 1) a “Pitch” of no more than 300 words, 2) an “Excerpt” consisting of the first 3000 to 5000 words, 3) a complete “Manuscript” of between 50,000 to 150,000 words, and 4) the personal information required on the entry form.

The rules document lists 9 entry requirements. They are all reasonable, such as, “You may not submit the work of your favorite published author.” (I’m kidding about the wording, but not about the implied restriction.)

Relative to the myriad of publishing industry source documents on the subject of manuscript formatting and the frustrating variation contained therein, the ABNA rules are refreshingly uncomplicated:  12-point Times New Roman, double-spaced (with no “hard” returns to achieve it), paginated, and 1-inch margins. (The image on the right, by the way, is from the times of an old Roman.)

Yesterday I took a fresh look at the Pitch after a “suck-test” gestation period of over 12 hours. I’m pleased to report only minor tweaking and the addition of three words, for a total of 300. (The word-count feature has proven to be very handy.) Unless I have a major confidence meltdown between now and the start of the submission period, this part of the Entry is ready to go.

Next I duplicated the 380-page, 103,561-word, most recent version of my novel, deleted the title page, removed my name from the slug line, and saved it as the “Manuscript.”

To create the “Excerpt,” I duplicated the Manuscript and deleted all but the first 5000 words. Since long Word documents don’t provide a running word count at the bottom, I began by selecting the first 20 pages and then chose “Word Count” from the Tools menu to determine a total of 5435 up to that point. After reducing the amount of selected text to include no more than 5000 words, I looked at the text to find a suitable end point with a hook. I found a nice one at 4991. Part of me wanted to add another 9 words, but the rest of my body threatened to harm itself. So now what?

A promise to myself prevents me from frantically scouring the Excerpt and Manuscript in another attempt to fine-tune the prose. This novel has been tweaked enough.

For tomorrow, a look at the ABNA process for reducing a total of 10,000 entries down to the last two writers standing with publishing contracts in their happy hands.

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