Friday, December 31, 2010


Good day fellow bloggers. Today I am going to inform you about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards: affectionately known as the ABNA.

Last year I was introduced to this amazing writing contest by a friend. I had just finished what I thought was a polished manuscript. A 125,560 word Y/A fantasy. Needless to say I spend over a year to really polishing my novel. A WILLOW'S TALE is now at a slim 68,000 words.

Before I tell you about the contest itself. I would first like to tell you how this contest launched me into the writing world.

It began with the entry. After finding out I made it through the first/pitch round, I was flying high. I began to visit the threads, eventually commenting. At first my comments amounted to nothing. Many of the contestants knew each other from previous years and chatted back and forth with each other. While waiting for the second round announcements, I managed to be heard here and there. Even though I wasn't "in" the group, I still enjoyed being in the thick of things.

On one faithful day I had the courage to start a thread. I had just received my critiques from my excerpt. And asked the community for some feedback. I was upset because one of the reviewers called my writing amateur. In the thread someone commented that I didn't add to the conversation and then it happened.

Erica from erica and christy came to my rescue. Thank you Erica!  Kind, supportive, and boisterous, Erica told them what of .... that the reviewer never should have wrote that, and theoretically we were all amateurs until we were published.

Eventually she and a few other kind souls helped me with what later became a major edit and restructure. Months of twelve hour days it took to pull my novel together. So you see, this is where it all began.
Erica then joined Christy and created there wonderful blog erica and christy I began to follow the blog world and three months ago I created In Time ...

Now for the contest .....

As you might have guessed it is sponsored by Amazon and Penguin Group and Create a Space. This is their fourth year running it. There are two grand prizes, one for Adult Fiction the other for Young Adult Fiction. The winners receive a $15,000.00 dollar advance and a publishing contract with Penguin. The contest is open to unpublished novels. Yes, self published authors can enter.

Open submissions for manuscripts begin on January 24th, 2011 and run through February 6th, 2011.  They take the first 5000 received in each category. And you must register with Create a Space ... it costs nothing to register. Manuscripts can be from 50,000 to 150,000 words

What you need to submit is a pitch: max-300 words. An excerpt up to 5000 words. Personal information on entry form. And of course, the manuscript itself. There are specific and there are a lot of do's and don'ts. Expect to put in some time. It is well worth your effort. Here is the link to the rules.

After submission the waiting game begins. You wait to see if you make the first cut. Everyone's on the forums relieving their stress and anxieties. You will meet some fantastic people. Threads run like fire, so don't be intimidated. If you feel like participating do it! Eventually you will find your niche.

Here are the dates and phases in the contest.

Submission: Jan. 24- Feb. 6

First round: Feb.7 - Feb 22 ... They read the pitch and select the top 1000 entries in each category.

Second round: Feb. 24 - March 13 Reviewing and judging of excerpts.

On or about March 22nd excerpts are posted on Amazon for everyone, yes everyone ... your friends included, to read and score. Top 250 make the quarter finals. Not the easiest thing to do....

Quarter finals are judged between March 22nd and April 25th ... the full manuscript. Top 50 in each category advance to Semi finalists.

If you are lucky enough to make it this far you advance to Finalist. On or about May 16th you will be notified. Only 3 from each category. Finalist are flown to the host city and judged.

In June the winner is announced.

Well that's the Reader's Digest version everyone. I highly recommend it to all of you that have polished manuscript. It doesn't have to be perfect, but if you want to win, I suggest your perfect it.

This contest is excellent for getting your work seen by our community as well as the publishing community. So take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

Here is the main link ....

Good luck and please let me know if you plan on joining me in the contest! I hope to see you there.


  1. that is heartwarming Michael. I have known some harsh criticism from others in writing forums and I have learned that sometimes what we say can sound awful to the recipient. Yes we are all amateurs until we are published and it is those who put their stuff out there for comment like yourself that have already started the journey to becoming published authors. Well done you! I think you write some great stuff and all of us write stuff that could do with more editing and polishing at times, but the essence of good writing is there. :O)

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for dropping by my New Year blog post, and sincere good luck with the upcoming contest!


  3. Whoa!!!! Well, I'm definitely out for this year. The first draft of my nano novel is no where near ready for anyone to read it....

    This is a fantastic opportunity for writers, wow! And don't you just love the people that live in the interwebs?!!!! This is the best community for support and advice and encouragement...I'm really glad you found Erica.

    Good luck on you entry!!!!

  4. Thanks for the information. I'm really thinking about doing this!

  5. Awww, thanks Michael. It's fun to be a "virtual" friend with so many talented writers over on ABNA and now on the blogs.

    For the record, I didn't make it past the pitch round last year. So that's my 2011 goal - get someone to read my excerpt. Here goes nothing!!

  6. Wow! that a lot to take in. I'm so glad you posted all this cause I never really knew about it, and i like hearing about these kinds of things. The best of luck to you and all who enter!

  7. Best of luck to you, Michael. I looked at this last year and didn't have anything ready. I think I'll enter this year. Thanks for sharing.

    Perhaps we can stalk the message boards together. How important is being visible on the message boards? is it popularity contest?

  8. Thanks for your words of encouragement Madeleine.

    Nice to see you again Francine and thanks for the luck.

    I'm glad I found Erica too, Words Crafter. I am sure the competition will be much stiffer this year.

    My pleasure, Heather.

    Erica, I agree, virtual friends are the best!

    Summer, I'm glad I was able to introduce the contest to you and the others.Thanks for the luck, I'll need it!

    Christopher, you are astute. I does tend to become a popularity contest when it comes down to the quarter finals. All the authors are trying to have others leave comments on their excerpts. It is good to start early in the forums,so that if you do make the quarters you will have a group to comment on your work. Start now if you can before the contest opens. It gets insane when it does.

    I hope that helps.

  9. A member of my critique group is an absolutely amazing suspense writer. He entered a contest and one judge crossed off comments from another judge right on my friends submission and told him he should never write again. This actually stopped him from writing. The said judge, then attended a workshop and read from his self published piece and it was entirely cliche.

    I was mad. I told my friend that he was a gifted writer and to pursue his dreams. I'm so glad that you also received the help and support you deserve.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  10. Thanks, Nancy,

    I don't give up that easily. I'm a taurus. I keep charging. I knew I had some degree of talent. I spent thousands of hours crafting it over the past year. I've learned so much and it shows in my writing. I now have wonderful and encouraging support from my blog family of writers who tell me I have talent. That to me is high praise from such a talented and awesome group of people.

    This is the BEST community!

  11. I don't have anything ready for submitting so won't be ready for anything that soon but I want to have something THIS YEAR!!! But Good luck to you on the contest! Best wishes and Happy New Year!

  12. Michael, I teared up reading this! We are lucky to know erica! And, I'm lucky to know you! I love Amber's title btw! And you've cut it down to 68k? Did I know that final number? Wow! The forums at ABNA are really fun to read, but I don't think I'll be offering anything up on them. I get a good laugh (and some good info), but I'm too shy to put anything out there! I'm in for the competition, though. Even though I've got a heck of a lot more to write!!! Best of luck to you, Michael! This post was very helpful for the newbies like me! christy

  13. Hey Michael, great to hear about your ABNA journey, I know you'll do so well this year!!! I loved reading about how you came to know Erica and Christy, I thought you guys must have known each other before ;)

    Happy New Year.


  14. I love how involved you are and that nothing stops you. That's what I like most about you as a matter of fact.

    I'm out for this competition. I have issues with the types of forums where critiques are coming from competitors. It seems they are out to derail people because they are all competing for the same thing.

    I hate that that happened to you. I'm wishing you the best of luck. Can't wait to hear more about this journey.