Doing a little “Happy Dance”: What it means to be a quarterfinalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Awards

Having passed through two rounds in the general fiction category of Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Awards, I’ve arrived at the quarterfinalists.  The first round was based exclusively on my pitch; the second, on my excerpt, which is the first chapter of my novel.  It feels great to be in the top 5% of the 5000 entries submitted.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I entered my manuscript in this competition, but it’s an exciting step for me and my work.  Even if I don’t make it to the semifinals, I’ll still receive the “second prize,” an official Publishers Weekly review that I can use for promoting my manuscript.

At this point, if you have a Kindle, you can download the excerpt of Dodging and Burning that I submitted and review it (which I encourage you to do!).  If you don’t own a Kindle, you can download the first three chapters from my website.  I’d love more reviews of my excerpt!  There are already two “official” Amazon reviews posted, one by an Amazon editor and one by an Amazon top reviewer. Apparently, I made the first reviewer do a “happy dance.”

This award is a breakthrough of its own, both in the way it promotes use of paperless publishing via the Kindle, and in the way that it encourages the public to play a role in the contest.  Of course, I’m glad that seasoned writers, editors, and agents make the decisions on the quarterfinalists, semifinalists, and finalists, but it’s great that the public can read and review excerpts and then, of course, read the six finalists’ entire manuscripts.

I’m always concerned about the decline in reading for pleasure in our country.  As an English teacher, I want to instill a love of reading in my students.  As a writer, I want adults to continue to turn to fiction to find complex and thoughtful stories that aren’t available or even possible through other types of media.  If the publishing industry doesn’t find clever ways to entice the public to read, then the art form it supports may be in jeopardy.

Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award is a great way to get the public involved in the process, which means, of course, they will have more at stake in the final product.  It’s smart way of building a truly invested readership.

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