The first round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is over and the list of people advancing to the next excerpt round was announced yesterday. This process simulates how an agent or editor chooses what advances from the slush pile. (stick with us until, or else skip to, the end, please!)
Submission period: Two weeks to enter your 300-word pitch, the first 3,000-5,000 words of your ms (called the excerpt), and your full manuscript. They take 5,000 for General Fiction (you must also specify genre) and 5,000 for Young Adult (which they describe as ages 10-16, but I've known people who have entered, and passed through, with books featuring main characters into their 20s). This year, GF closed early, which means they got their 5,000 entries. YA did not, which means there were less than 5,000 (but they probably won't say how many there were, since they didn't last year).
First round: Your pitch is judged. This is a little different from a query, since it isn't personalized, but much the same. You're being judged on your "first impression" - if the judge who reads yours likes your idea and thinks you can pull it off, you advance. The other 8,000 don't. To see who did, read click the link above. It will be posted on the official site.
Second round: Your excerpt is judged by two Vine reviewers (people who do a lot of reviews on Amazon and have been chosen by them to participate in the contest). These are readers - not agents, editors, etc. This approximates the agenting process for those agents that use an intern or assistant to read their partials. The top 500 (250 from each category) move on to the quarterfinals. All 2,000 in this round get a short review from their judges - usually a few sentences saying what they liked or didn't like about the entry.
Quarterfinals: 250 from each category have their excerpts posted for public viewing and rating. Someone from Publisher's Weekly reads your full and gives you a review. Penguin editors use the rating system (supposedly, although plenty with good reader ratings haven't made it through in the past) to forward the contestants.
Semifinals: 50 from each category get their full ms read by Penguin Editors. Excerpts continue to be reviewed by Amazon readers (i.e. the public). You win bragging rights.
Finals: YAY! If you're here, you're in the top 3 in GF or YA. There is only one winner in each category, but being a finalist all but guarantees you'll be published. This is where the contest varies greatly from the typical agent/publisher search. The general public can vote on Amazon (by reading the excerpt) for which one they like the most in each category. And that one wins.
So.....like we said.....those that passed the first round were announced yesterday. Erica is delighted to say her name is on the list (Erica Olson - A New Day). Several of our other blogger friends, like Michael di Gesu, Hart Johnson, JC Phelps, Theresa Milstein, and Mike Wood, are also still in. Christy didn't make it through, but she's cheering everyone on and continuing her rewrite. Good luck to all (in the contest and elsewhere)!!