Saturday, April 10, 2010

Making Your Voice Heard - Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award

As writers know, getting published is difficult. It usually begins with sending a story or novel out to acquisitions agents, editors or contests. It's a time-consuming business, apt to be frustrating and ego-deflating. The first rejection is devastating; subsequent ones become mind-numbing. But once in a while you send the right work to the right audience, and things click.

Gainesville writer Rhonda Riley, a member of the critique group I belong to, entered her book-in-progress in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. Amazon had invited submissions of adult accepted) and young adult novels, cutting off the entries at five thousand in each category. The grand prizes include cash and publication of the book by Penguin Publishers.

In pursuit of that brass ring, the manuscripts began a rigorous judging process in which the stack of ten thousand entries was reduced first to two thousand, then to five hundred.

Rhonda's novel, "Adam Hope: A Geography" is one of the two hundred fifty hundred still vying for top position in the adult category. On April 27th, the current tier of judging will be completed, and before that time you can weigh in at this level of the judging by reading and reviewing the writers' first chapters. I hope you will.

Here's how:
1. Go to
2. Select a category from the left column. Rhonda's entry, "Adam Hope," can be accessed by clicking on the "General Literature" link, and then scrolling through the list to see selections you'd like to read.
3. If you choose to read Rhonda's selection (I'm a little biased, of course), scroll down through to "Adam Hope," which usually appears on the first or second page. Click on it.

This is where it gets tricky, unless you already use Kindle.

4. If you don't have Kindle, and don't want to buy the device, you still may download the software for your PC or Mac to view the electronic version of the literature. Just click where indicated. Follow the download instructions on your screen. Initially I found it a little confusing, but eventually I got Kindle installed and was able to download the one-chapter sample of "Adam Hope." All I needed to do was log in with the info I usually use when I buy books. If you don't have an Amazon account, you'd need to start one. All of these things (downloading Kindle, starting an account and downloading the entries) are free.
5. Read, enjoy, rate the entries, write reviews (all optional).

What's next?

On April 27th, the number of contestants will be reduced to one hundred. A month later, six. Amazon customers will vote for their favorites, and on June 14th the winners will be announced. It's exciting to be on the fringe of the selection process. I think you'll like participating in the voting, and you'll certainly enjoy reading these works of literature.

The contestants deserve hearty congratulations, first for all of the hard work involved in preparing a book-length work, and second for their courage in sending their work out into the world to be scrutinized by selected editors and general readers. Good luck to all!