Finally Friday

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)!!


  1. Congrats to moving on, Erica! And sorry you didn't get to move along, Christy. Sounds like a very fun contest. Well organized!

  2. That's awesome!

    Congrats to everyone that made it through to the next round.

    I'm holding thumbs.


  3. Sorry, Christy. I didn't make it through for my manuscript Aura last year. Good luck with your rewrite.

    Congratulations, Erica, Michael, Hart, JC, and Mike! I hope we all make it through to the next round.

  4. Sorry Christy - congrats everyone else. Just posted a similar sentiment on MGD's blog, in that "knowing" so many people this year will make things much more fun and interesting...and upsetting, as we can't ALL win. But I'll be sure to acknowledge you all when I do!

  5. Congrats, Erica.

    I thought about entering but didn't in the end. The pitch scared me off. I have one for my query (which is working), but the contest wanted so much more. Also, there were some aspects about the contest that worried me.

  6. Congratulations Erica. That is so exciting. Good luck.

  7. Congrats erica, wow this is some huge process.

  8. Congrats Erica on moving on! And good luck w/ those rewrites Christy. Thanks for explaining the whole process.

    Also, I don't believe I've congratulated you on your big Packer win yet! Despite growing up in Bears territory, my brother is a big Packer fan and so I have a soft spot for 'em. (don't tell my Superfan ("Da Bears") husband)

  9. Congrats to both of you for being brave enough to take the plunge! I hope the reviewers will be kind, Erica.

  10. Yay, Erica! And the rest of the blogging gang! That's very exciting.

    Sorry that you didn't make it through, Christy, but WTG for having a good outlook about it.

  11. I didn't make it through either but YAY Erica! That's awesome! I'll be with Christy cheering you all on from the sidelines!

  12. Well, Ms. Erica,

    You are now joining us in the trenches. GOOD LUCK! I just hope I improved enough so the vine reader won't call my work amateurish again. IF so I'll let you fight them for me. lol


  13. Congratulations, Erica, on passing first round!! Cheers.

    I'm here to meet you gals. Came over from L'Aussie's where you commented about my Writer's Journey. I'm the last on Denise's list. She does such wonderful things for authors, and I feel privileged to have been guested by her.

    And I thank you for your comment: "Hello Ann, I'm so glad to be able to make it to this party, to meet you and to learn about your courageous journey. Thanks for sharing it with us. I look forward to reading your memoir."

    I would be pleased to have you read it when it comes out. And now I'm pleased to be a follower. It is so interesting how you two "know" each other! I love it. Reminds me of the time when I grew up and had out of state "pen pals." It was great fun.

    Ann @ Long Journey Home

  14. Erica, that's great! Congrats and good luck! And Christy, you're still awesome in my book!

    Kudos to both of you for entering... hopefully I'll be joining the pile next year (fingers crossed)...

  15. Thanks, everyone.

    Stina - there a lot of people out there who have reservations about the contest and particularly the fact that Penguin holds right of first refusal if you make it to the quarterfinals or beyond. However, I've known many people who have made it through that have nothing but wonderful things to say. But yes, you always have to be cautious when putting your work out there!

  16. Congrats Erica on making it through the first round! That's awesome. And you did such a wonderful job breaking the contest down. Thanks! and thanks for following!

  17. You're much more coherent than me about this. Anyway, I am THRILLED, you are IN!

  18. I didn't make it. I'm not at all surprised since the company judging this doesn't take the type of thing I write. I think they are interested in Urban Fantasy.

    Good luck to all the winners!
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

  19. Congrats, Erica!
    And good luck, Christy, with your rewrite :-)

  20. Well done Erica! I read Hart's post on this - and it is nice to see so many blogger names I'm familiar with up this time.

  21. You are both very brave to enter! What a great experience.


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