The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest 2009

I submitted my novel TAKE WING to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest. ?This was the second annual, although I totally missed the first one. ?I understand there were 10 finalists last year and 4 got book deals. ?One of the blogs I subscribe to mentioned this contest and I only had 2 days to get the submission done. ?Of course, the manuscript is complete, but it’s the pitch that you can obsess over: 300 words and it’s the only thing that counts in the first round of judging when they narrow from 10,000 to 3,000. ?Also, I did revise my first chapter, for maybe the 197th time. And 198th. I’m still not entirely happy with it. Will I ever be?

It’s getting harder and harder to get a manuscript through the “appropriate channels” to publication (writer find agent, agent find editor, editor feed up through channels). ?This fact doesn’t seem to square with another fact — that a record number of books are published each year — and yet both are true. I have had an agent, which was not a magic bullet. We got the same feedback many times: great story, interesting characters, but what genre is it? Too much sex for the CBA (Christian publishers), too much church for the ABA (everybody else).

The technology of this contest was impressive. The venture had 3 sponsors: Amazon, Penguin Putnam, and Create Space. Create Space appears to be a web-based company that holds creative work and does the equivalent of print-on-demand.

I haven’t had time to investigate, been too busy submitting, all while getting my regular work done. ?First step in the submission process was to create an account at Create Space. So, wasn’t that a stroke of genius on somebody’s part! 10,000 aspiring writers using your product. ?And it was slick. We could upload the various pieces needed for submission: the pitch, the excerpt, the full manuscript. ?Then we could actually go back and edit these pieces up until the deadline.

People, I learned to type on a manual typewriter and my first submissions were on onion-skin paper (right, you don’t know what that is, excuse me). ?Can you give me a moment to sit here and be amazed? We live in the future.


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