Mar 13, 2013

25 to 1: The Odds of Winning Third Prize

Now that the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards journey has come to an end, I would like to welcome you to my blog by sharing my contest experience and the results.

Expecting Rejection
I casually threw my book into the ring of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards thinking that the chances of it reaching the top were slim to none.  I never win anything, so what are the odds?  Up to ten thousand unpublished and self-published novels entered the young adult fiction category in January hoping to win something.  At the time, my book was just a finished draft in the process of being edited by friends.  The edited draft wouldn't be ready for another few weeks, which would be past the submission deadline, so I sent it in figuring it wouldn't pass the first cut.

First Elimination
In February, ten thousand reduced to four hundred and my name happened to be on the list of winners advancing to the second round.  Holy shit I thought, what are the odds?  I pulled out the calculator and did the math.  Four hundred divided by ten thousand meant that my novel, Reunion at Walnut Cherryville, ranked in the top four percent just on pitch alone.  Prior to the contest, I rewrote the pitch five times, queried literary agents and got rejection letters with no suggestions for improvement.  I had no idea what I was doing wrong, when finally this great news validated that I did something right.

The Results
Even though my book was eliminated in the second round; I could say that I finally won something where the odds were largely against me.  Reunion at Walnut Cherryville received Third Prize, which was a free editorial review of the novel’s pitch and the first five thousand words.  I am happy to have made it this far.  I heard from the ABNA discussion boards that the editors are going to tear it to shreds, but it’s all for the best.  I’ll make the necessary revisions, publish and maybe compete again next year.  I noticed that many writers said they resubmitted the same title from last year and found that the editorial review actually helped them advance to higher rounds this year. 

Feedback from Reviewers
ABNA Expert Reviewer 1:

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?  
Strong imagery; I can imagine this dystopian world.  Reminds me a little of "Holes."

What aspect needs the most work?  
I couldn't even tell that the narrator/protagonist in chapter 3 is a girl until I was at least halfway through my assigned passage. This work needs more to alert the reader about the apparent switch in narrators.  Edit the grammar and spelling! Granted, the narrators are supposed to be unreliable, not-so-educated teenagers, but please edit!

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?  
Strong sexuality.  For sophisticated high schoolers.

ABNA Expert Reviewer 2:

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?  
The plot is being well worked out along with requisite suspense and anticipation for what's coming up next.

What aspect needs the most work?  
There is confusion as to the narrator who apparently changes from chapter to chapter. It can and should be made clearer just who is narrating. Having each of apparently three narrators speaking in the first person is confusing.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?  
All in all, this is well written and the reader is anxious to learn more.

What Now?
That wasn't too painful, now was it?  Not what I was expecting.  After I do some quick revisions, I will be publishing within two weeks.  To stay posted on the release date, follow me on Facebook and Twitter @EternalFeud

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