Book contests

ABNA’s Back!

I’ve entered a lot of writers contests over the years. They’re always a leap of faith. You have to invest the fee, the cost of postage


For non-published authors

and the time required to prepare in hopes that your writing will coincide with what the judges want and a more accomplished author doesn’t decide to enter. I entered several ‘passion’ novels–books I wrote because I had to. They were stories that had to be told, not stories I had any thought a publisher would fall in love with. They were paleo-historic novels, along the lines of Jean Auel, but not as well done (IMHO). I never got anywhere and it burned me out on contests.

Then I found Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. This is for non-published authors. Self-published is OK, but no traditional publishing contract. There are a few reasons why ABNA works so well, at least for me:

  • No entry fee. For me, that’s wonderful. I have limited resources and try to spend them wisely. Free always fits the budget
  • Entry is electronic. There’s no investment in postage, no worry did it get there, no time trying to figure out what it weighs and how much postage it needs. Just push send and get the confirmation instantly.
  • Their writer’s forums are great. Lots of people like me, chatting, wondering, answering questions. There don’t seem to be any applicants that worry about giving away secrets that might allow someone else to beat them. I like that.
  • ABNA is partnered with Penguin Books. If you win (haha), you get a publishing contract and a $15k advance. Woah. That’s cool.

Here’s a list put together by Megan over at the ABNA forums of books that have been entered in the ABNA competition and ended up published via traditional publishers, meaning there are probably more that are self-published but not included on this list

  • Fresh Kills and Bloodroot by Bill Loehfelm *winner ABNA1, Putnam
  • Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan *Top Three finalist ABNA1, Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
  • Wet Nurse’s Tale by Erica Eisdorfer *Top Ten finalist ABNA 1, Putnam
  • Butterflies of the Grand Canyon by Margaret Erhart *Top 10, ABNA1, Plume
  • Casting Off by Nicole Dickson *Top 10 finalist ABNA 1, NAL
  • Bill Warrington’s Last Chance by James King *winner ABNA2, Viking
  • Greyhound By Steffan Piper, AmazonEncore
  • A Cruel Harvest by Paul Reid, AmazonEncore
  • Crossing By Andrew Fukuda, AmazonEncore
  • Pages from a Tennessee Journal by Francis Thomas Howard, AmazonEncore
  • A Body at Rest by Susan Petrone, Drinian Press
  • Stuff of Legends by Ian Gibson, Ace Amazon2 Top three finalist
  • In Malice, Quite Close by Brandi-Lynn Ryder, Viking Amazon2 Top three finalist
  • Catcher, Caught by Sarah Collins Honenberger, AmazonEncore
  • The Coffee Diary by Caroline Kellems, MacAdam/Cage
  • Dead Eye: Pennies for the Ferryman by Jim Bernheimer, Gryphonwood Press
  • Gemini Rising by Louann Carroll, Crescent Moon Press
  • The Sound of Building Coffins by Louis Maistros, The Toby Press
  • Far From Happy by Jennifer Lopez
  • Jerusalem Maiden by Talia Carner, William Morrow
  • The Vaults by Toby Ball, St. Martin’s Press
  • The Broken Mirror by J.M. Riley (now titled Half Upon a Time?), Aladdin
  • Love Out of Order by Nicole Green, Genesis Press
  • Blood River by David Greske, Charles River Press
  • Post Cards From A Dead Girl by Kirk Farber, Harper Perennial
  • The Ringer, by Jenny Shank, The Permanent Press
  • Good God Bird by John Corey Whaley, Atheneum Books
  • Children of Light by Caron Guillo, Written World Communications
  • The Guns of Mars by Martin T. Ingham, Pill Hill Press
  • Never Eighteen (formerly Mending Fences) by Megan Bostic, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • A Shadow of Time by Louann Carroll, Crescent Moon Press
  • Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew, Kensington Books
  • The Bum Magnet by Karla Brady, Simon & Schuster
  • 11:59 by David Williams, Wild Wolf Publishing
  • Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch by Richard Hine, AmazonEncore
  • Spirals of Destiny Book One: Rider by Jim Bernheimer, Gryphonwood Press
  • Farishta by Patricia McArdle, Penguin *winner ABNA3
  • Sign Language by Amy Ackley, Penguin *winner ABNA3
  • Final Price by Greg Smith, AmazonEncore.
  • Dove Season by Johnny Shaw, Amazon Encore
  • Service of the Crown by Alex Lidell, Dial Books for Young Readers ABNA3 Finalist
  • Coleman, MIRA

Last year’s winner not only got a book contract, but a movie contract also. And he was a first-time author. If that doesn’t motivate you to enter, no worries. Leave it to me. Here are the details:

  • Entries open January 24th
  • They take the first 5,000 entrants in each of two categories–General Fiction and Young Adult
  • 20% make the cut
  • the top 500 get a review from Publishers Weekly. That’s worth the entry right there

Anyone out there entering? Lets chat on their forums! Anyone interested in seeing my preview? Here’s the link to Search and Destroy (you only get about ten pages).


5 thoughts on “ABNA’s Back!

  1. Pingback: ABNA Update–I’m In (Uploaded I Mean)! « Word Dreams…

  2. This sounds excellent! I’ve never entered competitions, ainly because as you said, they expect you to pay for everything. It definitely is a leap of faith. And I heard that some contests are not so kosher.

    Glad to have heard about it from you. I’ll be checking out their forums.


    • Judging by the winners, I think they’re definitely kosher. The winners seem like you and me–Average Juan (you get my meaning). Most of the preparation helps me understand my novel better–a query letter, synopsis, that sort. It’s amazing after writing a 400-page novel, I have trouble distilling it to the theme. My favorite part of ABNA is that it’s all electronic. So easy. Let me know if you enter so I can check yours out.


    • Hi Megan, You’re so right about that. It’s easy to give up when you can’t get an agent’s attention and you’ve tried over and over. That’s what’s great about ABNA. It’s only for unpublished authors so it gives us a little better chance. Are you entering? And if so, which category–YA or General Fiction?


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