Book contests / business

ABNA’s Back!

amazon breakthrough novel awardIt’s that time of year again–for the fourth year. Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards (a cozy ABNA to us repeaters) is taking submittals starting January 23th and ending when they get 5,000 or Feb. 5th–whichever arrives first .

In the world of writing contests, there are a few details that set this one apart:

  • There is no entry fee. If you’ve entered contests in hopes of getting feedback to muscle up query letters, the cost of this approach quickly spirals out of control. ABNA skips entry fees, provides no comments until quarter finals. To me, that makes sense. If it’s not good enough to get through, then agents won’t be interested anyway
  • Submittals are read primarily by Amazon Top Reviewers, not professionals. I have no judgment on that; just throwing it out there
  • Two Grand Prize winners of a full publishing contract with Penguin.
  • You can’t enter a published novel, but you can enter a self-published novel. That’s unique.

So, are you inspired? You must have a completed novel (which I do). Here are other requirements:

  • The full/complete version of your manuscript must be between 50,000 and 150,000 words (check)
  • The Excerpt must be between 3,000 words and 5,000 words (check)
  • A pitch statement (cover letter/summary) must not be longer than 300 words (check)
  • Other registration information such as name, contact information, book title (check)
  • You cannot win if you don’t appear at the awards ceremony. This entails a 3-5 day trip. Interesting detail, innit?

Here’s a list of contestants who were published subsequent to entering this contest. It’s impressive. It would seem that although only one person can win, contestants with strong novels get noticed and snagged by publishers.

This is about the only contest I enter, which I will do again on January 23rd. If you’re also participating, feel free to post a link to your preview for others to visit. I’ll definitely check it out.

Share under comments if you’re entering. See you on the forums!

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing TeachersIMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s seeking representation for a techno-thriller Any suggestions? Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

12 thoughts on “ABNA’s Back!

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    • Yeah, you do. Several people on the forums complained about that. which made me think about that requirement. I wonder why it’s in there? The book is a winner even if you can’t see the author. I got an agent without ever meeting him in the physical world.

      T’were me, Anna, I’d enter anyway. Lots of people who make the finals get publishing contracts. And, if you get far enough, you get qualified critiques of your novel which can be shared with your readers and/or if you self-pub. It’s a win-win.


      • I have 2 publisher now so I’m happy for the time being. My stack of manuscripts will get published in my lifetime hahaha
        I’m sure the requirement is a way for them to see if the writer is willing and able to make it wherever for book signings and appearances, something that really boosts sales. I’m seriously hogtied in that department, though I could wish otherwise.


      • haha and we could take them fishing too. Did you know that it costs nearly as much to fly back and forth to town as it does to fly from Anchorage to somewhere in the lower 48? One of the many ropes in my hogtying. haha


  4. Hi, Jacqui! Thank you for reminding me about this deadline. With the conference and “everything else,” this completely left my mind. Think I’ll enter Separation of Faith again to see what happens this time. My expectations are pretty much at zero, so I’m just going to have some fun with the process.

    It will be interesting to see if the “pitch” is successful again. After I missed the second round cut last year, I received “evaluation feedback” from two “judges,” and their comments were so opposite that it was hard to believe they’d read the same book. One was gushing and glowing. The other was, well, not so much. I wonder what the real judging criteria is in order to get into round 3, or how many favorable evaluations are required. Two, for example …?

    Do you know how it works behind the scenes? Are the “amateurs” plucked from the Top 50 or Top 100 Reviewers? Fun to play with the possibilities.

    Good luck to you too this time around! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!


    • You absolutely should enter it–you’ve had tremendous success with it in competitions. The key part is that the judges are amateurs up until the end. It’s nice to find one that ‘gets’ your story, but you can’t be bothered if they don’t. Yours has a universal appeal that people just need to hear about. I have no doubt you’ll beat me again.


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