Authors are an odd bunch. We’re just a little bit dreamy, a little bit quirky, and a whole lot of strange. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just something I’ve come to realize.

It’s time for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award once again, and of course I’m entering, despite two years in a row not making it through the pitch round. Why? Five reasons….

5. It’s free!
4. I get to meet other authors and chat with people who, like me, are strangely compelled to write, to create worlds and characters and put those things on paper and then offer them up to the world, in hopes that someone else enjoys our creation.
3. The stakes are even higher this year. The grand prize winner will not only get a publishing contract with Amazon’s publishing house, but a $50,000 advance. That’s pretty good. Not only that, but there will be four “runner’s-up” prizes of a publishing contract and a $15,000 advance, which is what the grand prize has been since the contest began a few years ago. It’s hard to pass up such a prize.
2. It’s fun! If you happen to be an author with an unpublished or self-published novel  and you are unfamiliar with this contest, I highly recommend you enter. It’s a great learning experience.

But back to authors being an odd bunch, and how the two topics in this post relate:

The discussion boards of the ABNA are a lot of fun, especially in the days and weeks leading up to the contest. Sure, things can get a little nasty in some of the threads, but for the most part, we’re all just so happy to be there. For the most part, the authors on the discussion forums are there to chat and help each other out. We truly do want to see each other succeed. (Of course, we mostly want to see ourselves succeed, but there’s a strange camaraderie amongst us as well). And that’s the thing I find the most fun about this contest. Not only is it a chance to get your work noticed. But it’s a chance to “meet” some people who are very similar to yourself. It’s also a chance put some work out there and get critiqued. Because we all know that it’s difficult-to-impossible to look at our own work with an objective eye, but there’s a plethora of authors out there willing to look at each other’s work objectively and give advice on how to make it better. For the most part, at ABNA, this is done without malice. It may not be done “gently” per se, but the comments/critiques you may receive may not be all sunshine and roses. But I believe that is one of the best things that can happen to an author, because how can you improve your writing skills if you never hear anything but, “This is the best thing I’ve ever read!!”? Now, if your project is still your “baby,” I recommend you give it some time, maybe wait until next year, because if you’re going to put your writing out there for some serious criticism, you need to have a thick skin. But, if you can manage to put it out there, and accept the advice you get (whether you agree with it or not, and just because someone offers up criticism does not mean you have to, or even should, change anything), you will walk away a stronger and better writer.

And that’s the number one reason I love the ABNA contest. Because I firmly believe it’s made me a better writer.

~ jenelle

One Comment

Maida Korte

Hi Jenelle…..Aunt Maida here.
I have just started a graduate program at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.
It is a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, the non-fiction genre.

I just got back from being away for 10 days and it was just mind blowing, exhausing, yet exhilarating and humbling.

I am espousing the incredible and necessary element of having others read and critique a writer’s work, and also, to learn the craft.

Would love to talk to you about this and see what kind of writer’s group you have near you. Have you joined a group where your work is regularly critiqued by others? I am joining a writer’s group in Chicago, and also my professors are ruthless, as well as the readers and other students assigned to one’s work.

LOVE you and so proud of you Jenelle. By the way, just attended a day long publishing panel in Boston. Very eye-opening.
Love, Aunt Maida


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