Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards

You may have heard people discussing this in the last few weeks. But, what is it? The amazon Breakthrough Novel awards is a contest held by – you guessed it – Amazon, Create Space and Penguin Group (yes, the book publishing house).

So how does it work?

Entrants submit their manuscripts – formatted to the specifications stated here – on one of two categories: Young Adult Fiction or General Fiction.  But don’t get too excited just yet.

First, Amazon Editors will read through the pile of 5,000 300 word pitches.  Of those, 2,000 entries will be passed on to round two, where Amazon Top Customer Reviewers will narrow the field down to 500.  Next, Publishers Weekly reviewers will knock the entrants down to 100. After that, Penguin Editors will go through the entries and narrow it down to six (three in each category) and finally, the winning entries will be chosen by Amazon Customers. The winners will get a contract for the book with Penguin, including a $15,000 advance.

What does this mean? If you can’t pitch your book, then forget it? I’m not going to tell anyone to skip entering, but I do want to point out how important that 300 word pitch will be for entrants. If you’re just coming up to the plate on this, I suggest some serious cramming to get it just right.

The short entry window also means something else: Your book needs to be already finished , edited, and polished, like, now. (Yeah, a little valley girl, there.)  But, on the bright side, so long as your novel has never been the subject of a publishing agreement with anyone, you can enter it, even if it is self published.

To enter the contest you need to visit this site: .  There you can also find out pretty much anything you might need to  know about it, and even watch a walk through video on how to enter.

Last question, am I entering? That would be a big “No”. With only one winner in th general fiction category, I really don’t see paranormal Fantasy doing well. Am I missing “an amazing opportunity”? maybe. So, don’t let my decision influence yours.

what about you?Are you entering this year? Did you enter last year? if so, what was your experience with the contest?

Short Stories?

I’ve noticed that a lot of authors fill in the time between their novels with short stories – or in some cases only publish short stories – and I’m curious about other people’s viewpoints on this.

I’ve been a “novelist” since I can remember and I’ve always sort of looked at short stories as the lesser cousin to the “full” story. Though I have submitted a few to various contests, like poetry, I’ve never taken them seriously.  That is, of course, unless it’s in a short story collection. Then, and only then, did I consider them to be lengthy enough to qualify as “something”.  Otherwise, they’re that bit of fluff, that afternoon snack while you’re waiting for dinner.

Regardless, I can’t help but notice the large – and ever growing – number of short stories available at Smashwords and even Amazon. Some authors write nothing but and, rather than publishing them in a collection, they put them up one little story at a time, for $.99 a piece.  The question I have is: Is this actually worth it? As a reader, do you spend your $.99 on a short story when, in some cases, you can get a full length manuscript for that price? As an author if you do this, do you actually make any sales?

As you might guess, I’m asking collective opinions for a reason – three of them to be exact. 1) I’m curious to see other people’s feelings on this. 2) I am working (slowly) on a short story collection, and have contemplated putting them up, one 3,000 word story at a time, until they’re all done when I will then slap them together and 3) I have a LOT of random short stories laying around. Is this cash in the bank I’m not utilizing?Or does publishing a lot of short stories just brand you as a “short story writer”?

I look forward to hearing what you guys think!