Friday, January 6, 2012


Happy Friday everyone.

I hope you all had a wonderful week and are gearing up for a fun weekend. I know, I know, most of you are worn out from the holidays. BUT, while you are relaxing, put some thought into entering the Amazon Breakthrough Award contest. You still have a few weeks to dust off that ms and polish it until it blinds you.

What is the Amazon Novel Breakthrough Award contest you ask? Well for those of you who have followed me this year will certainly know, so please bear with me. But, for those who are new friends and don't know I will inform you.

Two years ago 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. I know you are all laughing at this ... Needless to say I had to spend over a year and a half polishing this novel. Amber and the Whispering Willows is now at a slim 62,000 words.

MY second novel, THE BLINDED GARDNER was way more polished when I entered it into the contest last year. Both years I managed to get through the pitch rounds... Sorry, I am getting ahead of myself.

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 Vines 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 fifth 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 23rd, 2012 and run through February 5th, 2012.  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 from 3000 to 5000 words. Personal information on entry form. And of course, the manuscript itself. There are a lot of do's and don'ts, so expect to put in some time. It is well worth your effort. 

Click here to read the entry guide lines.

Click here for the official 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. 23- Feb. 5, 2012

First round: Feb.6 - Feb 21, 2012 ... They read the pitch and select the top 1000 entries in each category.

Second round: Judging for the Quarter finalists - Feb. 23 - March 11, 2012 ..  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 20th and April 23rd ... 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 you 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.

Click here for 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. We should do a blog fest to help people polish their pitches for this! Then again, it may be too close. I was looking at it and saw that self-published authors can enter to. I just might have to that. A contract with Penguin doesn't sound half bad. ;)

  2. I have nothing ready to enter, but best of luck to everybody that does. It's good of you to explain it all so clearly Michael.

  3. I'm good to go, but I know this will help others. I assume you are entering again as well? I'll plug this for you Monday during the Ninja News.
    And thanks for your comment, Michael. I really, really appreciated that!

  4. Sometimes it just takes the words of a kind soul to keep us going. I've nothing to submit as I'm busy with revisions right now.

  5. Glad you stuck with it, Michael! Wouldn't be the same Web without you. : )

    Seriously, be nice people!

    The Amazon thing sounds pretty cool.


  6. Erica rocks! I'm glad she was there to stick up for you because sometimes those threads can be brutal...which is why I rarely go and usually only lurk when I do.

  7. I was treated so shabbily by the one of the site's critics about THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH that I really have no interest in opening myself up to vicious attacks on my character.

    He was free to critique my prose (that is how all of us grow) but not to blacken my character with slanderous accusations.

    Erica does indeed possess a giving heart. I wish all who enter a marvelous experiece. Roland

  8. good luck! i won't be entering this year, but will certainly be cheering everyone else on!

  9. I'm going to enter again this year, although it's tough. I have to give myself a thick skin and jump in with both feet. Good luck to you!

  10. Good luck to all who enter, I hope the experience will be a good one. You keep proving how brave you are Bro, best of luck to you!

  11. Oh I'd love to enter with a fantasy novel that I've been working on. It's adult so it makes me happy that they have an adult section for novelists like me.

    Hey Michael, I wanted to ask if you would be on my debut novel blog tour in May 2012? If not, I understand perfectly. Please let me know. My novel is a GLBT science-fiction.

  12. Thanks for telling me all the details. I don't really know about it. I'm not ready to do it but maybe next year. Good luck in your entry!

  13. Thanks for explaining it from start to end--it answers some of the questions I'd had about ABNA.

    Good luck!

  14. I won't be entering, but I will totally be cheering you on, man!

  15. I've heard of the contest, but haven't thought to enter it. Maybe one of these years! :)

  16. Good luck, sir! I entered last year; don't know if I will this year. My novels aren't mainstream, and judging by last year's winner, that's what they're going for.

  17. Sounds like you found yourself something fun to do. I hope you do well. I'm not going to enter. I don't have anything. Good luck!

  18. Wow--I can't believe it's that time again. This past year FLEW!!! It's so nice of you to say these kind things about erica! If not for her, I'd never have met you! So I'm thankful to her too! (for that and, well, everything else. Since we correspond on a daily basis!) Best of luck to you and Aiden this year! I LOVE Heather's idea for a blogfest. I think there's still time! Christy

  19. Thanks Michael it looks like an awesome contest. I don't have a completed MS at the moment, but I would enter in a flash if I did.
    Good luck to you.

  20. I'm not entering but best of luck to you, Michael :)

  21. Good luck, Michael! Thanks for telling us about your journey...
    Guess what? Even if I wanted to enter, the fine print says that no one from Quebec is eligible!

  22. I'll definitely be doing this again, but I still have no idea what novel to pitch! hehe

  23. Happy 2012, Michael! Hope you had a great holiday.

    Good luck with the contest. I remember how well you did last year.

  24. ...several years ago I made it through the pitch rounds with South of Charm, under a different title back in those days. Its definitely an aggressive competition.

    Good luck!


  25. Thank you for blogging about this. I noticed the contest on Amazon last week. Maybe I should enter, too.

    And thank you for your awesome comment recently. I love hearing about an author's progress. :)

  26. This was really helpful! I read so much about ABNA every year, but was never quite sure about it. This post makes me want to participate.

  27. I won't be entering this year, but I wish you the very best, Michael. Outstanding post! I'll tweet it. :)

  28. Hi, I came to your blog via Michelle Fayard's. I'm not entering the contest, but I wish you good luck with your entry!

  29. Ahhh, the ABNA boards. They can be so wonderful...and so hateful... I mostly lurk there now, but I'm always willing to throw my hat in the ring when someone's not being very nice!

  30. Are you joining this year? You're so marvelous to provide this guide to the awards---I'd never heard of them before you.

    On a side note---what's happened to us?!? Are the days shrinking? Cuz there doesn't seem to be any time to do what I WANT to do anymore. :( Let's chat soon though---I'll e-mail you to see when you're around.

    P.S. I'll be embarking on hosting my first ever blogfest soon. I think you'll like it...

  31. Michael,

    Thanks for the links and details. I've checked out the contest and it tempts me SO bad! We'll see, I'm still on the fence. But good luck to you :)

    It was good to hear from you. I took a break over the holidays and am trying to get back into visiting blogs more faithfully! It's hard to create a habit now that I've fallen out of it.

  32. Yep... I'm gearing up for it again. And even if we dont get far, the feedback is so valuable,...worth it for that alone!