Saturday, January 22, 2011

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award - Key Dates, Requirements & Pitching

Are you entering the ABNA? I am; it's the only contest I've considered this year that is free. Not to rush you or anything, but you have ONE MORE DAY to write that 300-word pitch, ensure your novel is completed at 50,000 to 150,000 words, and select an excerpt of your novel, at least the first 3,000 to 5,000 words. No pressure!

Full details of the contest are here, but this is the first key date to keep in mind.

January 24 - February 6, 2011: The submission period is open, in which you complete your entry form and upload your pitch, completed novel and excerpt. Only the first 5,000 entries in each of the categories, Young Adult Fiction and General Fiction will be accepted.

Requirements include:

A manuscript submitted in Microsoft Word .doc, .docx or .rft format, in Times New Roman and 12-point font; double spaced with 1-inch margins (no "hard" returns to achieve double spacing).

Each manuscript, excerpt, and pitch must be in the English language; not currently or previously published with any publishing house (a self-published novel is okay if you own the worldwide rights); and, can't include the entrant's name anywhere. The manuscript, excerpt and pitch count as part of one entry; you are not allowed other entries.

The hardest part of deciding whether to enter was my concerns about the pitch. Did I mention that the pitch is your only qualifying entry that editors will initially judge? From the 5,000 pitches in each category, the judges will narrow it down to 1,000 of the best selections. So, if the pitch doesn't interest them, the manuscript will not be read. Crap. How in the hellhole do I talk about the characters, conflict, plot development, concept, and audience of a 91K novel in 300 words? Here's my stab at it in 292 words:

SULTANA, a completed historical novel at 91,253 words, is the story of revenge and intrigue, the bonds of family and the redemptive power of love. In thirteenth-century Moorish Spain, the realm of Granada is in crisis. The marriage of a child-bride Fatima, granddaughter of the Sultan of Granada, and the Sultan’s nephew Faraj, has fractured the nation. A bitter civil war escalates and endangers both Fatima and Faraj’s lives. Their interchanging perspectives offer readers and adventurous escape into the past, with rapidly changing events and fascinating historical figures that shaped medieval Spain.

All her life, Fatima has sheltered in lavish palaces where danger has never intruded, until now. A precocious child and the unwitting pawn of her family, she soon learns how the union may determine her future and the fate of Granada. Her husband Faraj has his own qualms about their marriage. At a young age, he witnessed the deaths of parents and discovered how affluence and power offers little protection against indomitable enemies. Guilt and fears plague him. Determined to carve his own destiny, Faraj struggles to regain his lost inheritance and avenge his murdered family.

Throughout the rugged frontiers of southern Spain, the burgeoning Christian kingdoms in the north and the desert states of North Africa, Fatima and Faraj survive ruthless murderers and swift intrigues. They change and grow, establishing a powerful bond, often tested by opportunities for mistrust in an atmosphere of deceit and intrigue. Can they unite against common enemies bent on destroying the last Moorish dynasty in Spain?

Audiences that enjoy historical fiction with universal themes of passionate first love and hope against odds will find the romance in SULTANA appealing, but there are dark elements of danger and grittiness that enhance the sense of danger.

Wish me luck, as I wish you the same if you're entering ABNA.


J.L. Campbell said...

Good luck with your entry. I had forgotten about the competition.

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks, and if you decide to enter, I wish you the same.

Victoria Dixon said...

Yeah! We're both entered. Bwa ha ha. LOL Seriously, I'll be happy if I manage to get in this year. Last year for some reason my query didn't even make the grade. Sigh.

Lisa Yarde said...

Figures they'd make the pitch - the hardest thing! - first. It makes sense, as readers go by the blurb often. I'm praying to survive to the next round but don't hold out much hope. Some stellar pitches posted on CreateSpace community.

Sue A. Maynard - Author, Carving The Light said...

I'm in for the first time this year! Good luck to all of us! :)

Lisa Yarde said...

This is my first time, too. Waiting with bated breath like all other entrants

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