I had a friend say that whenever she saw “ABNA” she thought “ABBA” and that it’s been a very strange week.
So the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award submission opened last night. For those of you who don’t stalk the internet like I do, Amazon accepts 10,000 entries (5000 general, 5000 young adult) and through an elimination process ends up with one in each category that gets a publishing contract with Penguin and $15000. (Your advance. Pretty generous from what I hear.) They do accept self-published novels (Hidden Worlds is too short, for those wondering why I didn’t do anything with it) and any single-author novel that has never had a traditional publishing contract as long as it’s between 50 and 150K words and meets a variety of other requirements.
I first heard of the ABNAs last year. I watched a couple of friends go through the process of entering and decided I would enter this year with WLBtB. It’s probably my favorite of my own novels – I adore the characters – but I haven’t gotten around to doing an in-depth edit. I’m still working on getting BM out to agents, so I’ve been putting WLBtB on a back-burner as kind of a “if this never gets published, this is my back-up plan” sort of thing.
I still didn’t really edit it beyond fixing typos and grammar and clarifying some scenes.
Here’s the thing – I don’t really think I want to win.
First of all, the ABNAs seem kind of random. From my friends’ experiences last year, it seems like your chances of moving forward to the next round really depend on who’s assigned to read your entry. It’s not really a commentary on the quality of your writing or your book as much as whether the reader you get is a good match for your topic/genre. (Well, I take that back. I’m sure some of it depends on writing quality.)
Secondly, let’s assume I somehow manage to win this, and Amazon says “here is your $15000 and your publishing deal.” I wouldn’t know what to do with either. I would want an agent to look at things. I’ve read places that if you have a publishing deal, you can contact agents and ask if they’ll take you on, but man, pressure and streeeessssss.
One would wonder why I even bothered entering if it makes me nervous and I’m not even sure I want to win. Well, a couple of reasons. It’s practice. I’m trying to get more things out there. I can’t hoard my stories forever. I would like them to be read, and the more I practice and the more I get out there, the more likely it is that some of them will escape and prosper. The story I submitted isn’t my most polished piece of work – after I rewrite the first chapter (again) I’m going to continue submitting that and I didn’t want it tied up in this contest for however many months it takes before I get knocked out. I’m kind of interested in seeing how far I can go on a first draft. I am a masochist. Things like that.
Did you enter ABNA? Why? What do you hope to get out the contest?