Monday, January 24, 2011

ABNA 2011... Here Goes Nothing

At 3:30 this morning, my upper back and neck a twisted knot from sitting so long at the computer, I submitted my historical novel to the 2011 ABNA: Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Now, I vow to forget the entire shebang--including the fact that there'll be an announcement of writers who made the next round, in a month or so--and to concentrate on living life as I know it.

It's the first time I've entered the ABNA, which has been around for the past five-plus years. The contest is held jointly by Amazon and Penguin Publishing Group, and the winning manuscript gets a $15,000 advance and published by Penguin or one of its many imprints. There are two categories this year: YA (Young Adult) and General Fiction (all genres). There are several rounds, the first of which is the Pitch: basically, boiling your (in my case, 450-page) novel into 300 or less words that hook, astound, and engage the reader. It's sort of like coming up with the information that would appear on a book jacket, if your manuscript should ever be so lucky to grow up to be a book.

In this contest, the Pitch is everything. Without it, you do not pass. I worked on mine for weeks, starting with the blurb of information from the query letter I'd written to literary agents several years ago. Then I tweaked, got lots of great advice from friends and writer-friends, and folks on the ABNA discussion boards, and finally came up with the finished product. I'm hoping like hell it makes it through.

These are not good odds: the contest allows 5,000 entries in each category, which means there are thousands of writers pitching their hope and work to the stars, right alongside mine. And do not doubt that these are talented writers; I've seen their previews and pitches, and I'm impressed by the quality of folks vying for the goal. Despite the odds, I figure if anything, it's yet another way to get my work in front of people in the industry. And since entering was free, what could it hurt?

Oh, yeah... my neck. My back. My neck and my back. (A little Friday, anyone? Showing my age, here.)

If, by the grace of God and the contest judges, my humble novel makes into the 1,000 entries that pass the first (Pitch) round, then it will start down a long and bumpy road which could (please please Lord please) end in an excerpt being posted on with an option for people all over the world to read, review and vote on it. Hmm... perfect strangers of varietous skills critiquing your work through the fabulously impersonal world of the Internet? Not. Scary. At. All.

I'll keep y'all posted. If may be a bit difficult, with every one of my appendages being crossed for luck, to do much typing. But I'll try.