I’m watching today as some of my fellow writers await news of their fate in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) competition. At some point today--and if Amazon holds true to tradition, it might be well into tonight--the announcement will be made of those making it on to the Quarterfinals.
Last year, I was among those awaiting news. This year, I’ll be cheering from the sidelines since I got knocked out of the competition in the pitch round.
It brings mixed feelings. Sure there’s disappointment. I would love to have that competition anxiety today, to feel my heart beating a little faster each time my computer chimed its new message alert, to have that beautiful feeling of potential there, that this-year-it-could-be-me high. But I’m finding that I’m also excited for those people who might be moving on, particularly those people who I now count among my friends. There’s also curiosity. One of these people will be a published novelist soon. (Not to mention curiosity to read the excerpts.)
Besides, I’ve already gotten something out of this year’s ABNA: a polished manuscript. That deadline forced me to get myself in gear and finish the revisions I’d been working on off and on for a few years now. It forced me to work on my pitch. That’s prize enough itself.
I’ve also made some great new writing friends. Plus, it’s been a lesson in networking, and many of the other contestants have graciously supported me by voting in the “Fresh Blood” contest, where I’m a finalist.
Maybe more importantly, it’s also been a great reminder that no matter how much work you’ve put into a novel, no matter how strongly you believe in it, the details matter. You need to have a strong pitch (or synopsis or other marketing material) to get your novel read in the first place.
So while it stung a little to get knocked out so soon in the competition this year, particularly after making it to the top 100 last year, I’m still happy I entered and will be looking forward to doing so again next year (hopefully with a much stronger pitch).
Good luck to those who are still waiting for news on their entry. I wish each and every one of you the best, both in ABNA and beyond. This is just one step in the journey. Onward!