That depends ...
on what you want to win.
What? You want to win the money of course.
To me the money is secondary ... and no, I am not wealthy ... except in things that you cannot deposit in a bank.
Besides, the money (both for the $50,000 and the $15,000) is broken up into three payments:
1) Upon signing.
2) Upon turning your novel in to the editor with all requested changes.
3) Upon publication.
The prize I am interested in is the WORD OF MOUTH.
All of us stand a much better chance of winning that treasure than the money anyway.
And it could well lead into contracts and money from other sources.
The reason why is the quality of the mouths "speaking."
THE PITCH -
Amazon professional editors will evaluate your 300 word pitch.
They are WEARY professionals from skimming through 10,000 entries so do yourself a favor and write a 200 to 250 word pitch.
These are professionals who are thinking MONEY even more than you as in how hot your book will be.
Does your pitch entice?
Does it make the reader root for your main character?
Does it strike a universal chord in the reader but in a unique way?
Editors are bone weary of seeing the same cliched plots over and over again. Be different.
THE EXCERPT -
This is the tricky part. You are being evaluated by Amazon Vine Readers.
Who the heck are they you ask.
Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items
to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions.
Amazon invites customers to become Vine Voices based on their reviewer rank,
which is a reflection of the quality and helpfulness of their reviews as judged by other Amazon customers.
Yeah, they are selected by popularity of their reviews.
And you know how popular funny and snarky remarks are these days.
Luck is the major ingredient here.
One Vine Reader accused me of stealing the plot from Disney's THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG for my THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH.
I have never seen that Disney animation, but if you have and have read my book,
you will know that the only thing they have in common is a New Orleans setting.
Obviously, the "reader" didn't read my entry but just skimmed it.
Again, be good to yourself and the readers who gets your excerpt and make it closer to 3,000 words rather than the 5,000 word limit.
THE NOVEL -
A number of reviewers from Publishers Weekly
(an international news website of book publishing and bookselling)
will thoroughly analyze the 100 titles to find the top five semi-finalists for each category.
THIS IS THE WORD OF MOUTH you are interested in. Agents troll these remarks. Sometimes book editors do as well.
Make sure your novel is properly edited.
But even more important, make sure your novel contains suspense, tension, and entertainment on each page.
Each chapter should be a riveting link in the bicycle chain that propels your reader to the next one as they must know what happens next.
At this point, Amazon Publishing editors, along with a panel of judges, will choose a finalist for each category, who will be announced on July 8, 2014.
A PUZZLEMENT -
Lumping sci-fi, fantasy, and horror into a single category is stacking the deck a bit too high for my comfort.
If you are entering into that category as I am, I wish us luck in standing out in such a mixed stew!
A FINAL THOUGHT -
Good luck to all of you!