24 January 2012

Amazon Breakthrough Frenzy

Oh, sure. When we are talking about Topical Tuesday I could talk about SOPA or the Chinese New Year (which I actually did yesterday, and that was more timely), but my head is FULL of ABNA ABNA ABNA... It is just that time of year.

I know I've talked here of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest and I think Tara mentioned it here a while back, but NOW IT'S OPEN! EVERYBODY PANIC!


Yeah, sorry about that. It's just... this is the only thing I've ever done that combines the TENSION of Querying with the Adrenaline and Group support of a WriMo. It is the good and the bad of writing tension all rolled in one pretty little package. Only it isn't pretty.

But what I want to do here is a little bit of COUNTERING. I've seen some former ABNA entrants nod out this year. They site the rules and how much authors give up, and I admit, it isn't for everybody.

People I Believe should FOREGO ABNA

1 – People who have written a sure best seller. If you look at best seller charts, these are mostly thrillers and books by Jodi Piccoult. If these apply to you, this may not be your contest. Seriously though--some books are going to get nice big advances and sell millions--if you have one of these books, chances are the prizes here will not look all that great to you. James Patterson need not apply.

2 – One trick ponies with intentions to sell this and only this NOW. The contest puts you on hold with THIS WORK. If this is your ONLY work and you want to market it to publishers, you will not be able to for 6 months. That seems a very long time if you only have one book. You CAN during this time seek an agent. You can also write other books, shop other books, polish other books—heck, you can polish THIS book—the only time that isn't helpful is if they loved the earlier version so much they won't take your changes.

The things you give up are:

The right to negotiate IF YOU WIN. The contract is the contract is the contract. But you know what? They can't afford to have it not be a FAIR contract. I HAVE a Penguin contract, and I just don't believe they gain anything by screwing over a winner. AND if you win, you take that through your WHOLE career. Listen to it: “Tara's first books won the Amazon contest in 2012.” Isn't that a tag you'd love to carry forever?

[I am picking on Tara, as this is her first year entering—I finally managed to lead one of my fellow Burrowers into this addictive thing.]

TIME: As mentioned above, while you are entered, you can't shop it to publishers. If you are a finalist, Penguin gets the right to offer for 30 days and if you can't come to terms then they have the right to counter any other offer you get. (hello, bidding war)

But here are the things you GAIN:

Understanding of the PROCESS of selling a book: This system is very much like the query—you are judged first pitch, then partial, then full.

Networking: This is a truly supportive system of people (though there are places on the discussion boards that can be contentious, so beware)

Professional feedback: now this is a reward if you get past the pitch stage, but it is REALLY NICE. It is ALSO to be taken with a grain of salt, as readers are NOT matched by genre with their interests, so there is some crap shoot to it. Still, it is a good learning experience.

And if you WIN?  A HUGE marketing coup--all the support of Penguin behind you, all the marketing credentials of winning a contest this huge... It's really big. Even being a semi-finalist last year got me an agent.

So don't be afraid, my friends... Dive in!

And just for the fun of it, this is my entry this year:

Cover designed by Joris Ammerlaan
Ten-year old Peter Popescue doesn’t know his family is holding evidence that could bring down an international crime family. All he knows is his mother’s been missing for months and his dad has been teaching him and his siblings how to stay hidden. A loud crack in the night wakes him and he struggles to stay silent as he witnesses his father's execution. Worried they may be the next targets, Peter, Kade, and an emotionally fragile Tasha realize it's time to put their invisibility plan into action until they can find their mom.

In downtown Portland, Athena Garnett, a street-smart runaway, helps them defuse a gang situation that is turning ugly. Tasha takes a fondness to thirteen-year old Athena and Athena helps them gather some resources they need. They invite her to hide with them as the weather turns colder. In exchange, she offers to help solve the clues they believe will help find their mother: clues that lead them on an unusual treasure hunt through Portland involving stolen art, hidden money, and foreign gangsters. But the most ominous clue is a name that suggests all of their lives have been intertwined since long before they were born and that their legacies place them on opposite sides of a mob war.

Legacy, a young adult suspense novel combines the gritty adventure feel of Melissa Marr, the difficult sibling journey of Cynthia Voigt's Homecoming with the art theft and high adventure of Ally Carter's Heist Society. Ultimately, it is about what happens to children who are left holding the pieces of their parents' explosive lives.

I'd love to know what you think--there is still time to tweak it.


Amber T. Smith said...

“Tara's first books won the Amazon contest in 2012.” - Ha!!! If that's how you pick on people, you can pick on me whenever you like. *snort*

I'm SO excited. And scared. But still excited. Erk, it's definitely a stomach clencher, no matter how I look at it. Good luck Tami, and thanks for nudging me along. *glomps*

Unknown said...

Good luck to both of you!

Tonja said...

I like your cover. It sounds like a great story. Good luck!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good luck to you, Hart - this is YOUR year!


All my best wishes and greetings for you my so nice friend , God bless you and your family

Anonymous said...

Good luck on your Conspiracy trilogy! I'll be happy to host you to promote your book. Have you run this by Matthew MacNish for critique purposes?

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Good luck, Hart! Love your description for "Legacy."

Sarah Ahiers said...

I just have a lot of reservations about the contract, not just for winners, but for finalists as well. Which is too bad because i'd probably really like the atmosphere and company

historywriter said...

I entered ABNA in 2009 just for heck of it. I didn't expect to win, but I just didn't worry about THE CONTRACT. Still don't.

The publishing world is like a lottery. Best to enjoy your writing journey. And so I do with my ABNA friends (some I met for the first time this past week) and the skills and discipline I learned from submitting. I've self-published one entry from 2009 and having the best time marketing it (it's doing well), but I'm still submitting to ABNA just because.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I remember entering ABNA last year with VICTOR STANDISH. One of the reviewers was so insulting and vicious and totally off the mark (criticizing passages that had to have been from somebody else's entry -- they certainly weren't in mine), I realized the person couldn't have read my entry.

The other had read the first three sentences and made up the rest (or like the first one) remembered from someone else's entry ... which she hated.

I could only shake my head.

So, of course, I entered this year as well! LOPL.

Since you can enter self-published novels, I entered THE BEAR WITH 2 SHADOWS. Now, no matter the venom, I can counter it with 9 good reviews and the number of sales it has generated.

As historywriter says, it is a lottery, very much dependent on who reviews our work. Great good fortune, Hart! Roland

Hart Johnson said...

Tara--teehee--Fair enough. I will pick on you often!

Chary-thank you!

Tonja-Joris did covers for the whole trilogy and I LOVE them!

Alex-thank you!

Jarnail-thank you! And welcome--I don't think you've been to our blog before!

Stephen-not Matt, but it has gotten several rounds of feedback--the ABNA crew has helped several times. I am finally fairly content with it.

Elizabeth, thank you!

Sarah-You entered anyway, didn't you? I just figure the odds of winning are so slim. I am in it for the feedback.

Janet-EXACTLY! You said it well.

Roland-so glad it didn't make you give up on the process! It really is great, though there are some pitfalls. Good luck!

Jan Morrison said...

Tartlette - may you sail through this with the greatest of fun - your stict-to-it-ness is catching. I'm entering my novel in a local contest and am kind of freaking out. don't know if I could handle ABNA but I may go look at the rules and all...I don't mind not submitting it to publishers for six months as long as I can try for an agent.

Hart Johnson said...

YAY! Do it, Jan!

Anonymous said...

there I was looking to the Naked Domination Tartlet to help me find a way to link to our ABNA entries :( and she succeeds in synopsizing the whole shebang. You'll do it, Tartness, just because you CAN and your supreme belief will rearrange the ABNA universe to surround you -- remember how far you got last year... yeah! so no negatives (like 'in it for feedback, odds slim...') sounds like a challenge. And we all know what the Tart does when she's challenged. loads of love on domestic drawbacks. We shall overcome! ps Tara - you'll do great!