Amazon.com and Penguin have hosted a contest every year for the last four years titled the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (ABNA). If you've been following my blog awhile, you'll know that I've entered every year since its inception (and my soon to be release novel, Never Eighteen was entered in the contests first year. It didn't make it far, so even if you don't win the contest, you still have that shot, just sayin').
The award is a book deal for one YA and one general fiction novel. A real honest to god book deal! Many of the non-winners have gone on to be published through Amazon's publishing house, AmazonEncore, or other traditional publishers. Contest starts January 23, 2012.If you're trying to get published, you should seriously consider entering.
It's not just about the book deal either. It's about experience. If you've not queried your novel out yet, guess what? That's what you need to do to make the first round. You need to write a pitch. Terrified? Don't be. There's a very supportive group of writers all ready in place on the ABNA forums, some of them having been there all four years. They have a pitch thread, where you can ask questions, get advice, and even get your pitch critiqued.
The feedback is awesome too. That is, if you make it through that pitch round. If you do, you get two reviews by Amazon Vine Reviewers. Just like any other critique, you take what you need from them and disregard the rest. Vine Reviewers are human and make mistakes, just pull on your thick skin suit and be ready. If you make it even further, you can get reviews from Amazon customers themselves. Also, many of the other writers in the contest review the entrants. Getting feedback was one of the best things about the contest.
Lastly and most importantly, for me at least, this contest was about the camaraderie. I had just finished my first manuscript when I found out about the contest. I had never met other writers before and participating on the forum was a great way to do this. If found people with the same fears and goals. I even found writers in my own area that I am still friends with (and actually dating one). Don't feel intimidated writing on the forum either. Yes, some of them have been there for four years and have inside jokes, but most of them are loving, friendly, talented, and funny individuals and will accept you with open arms.
Really, you should enter. What have you got to lose? Click here to visit the ABNA main page and good luck.