So you can read my books

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

ABNA 2014 ... HOW TO WIN

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."
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.
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.
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.
 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!
Good luck to all of you!


  1. Good Luck, Roland!

    You have to try if you're ready for it, remember Wilde's advice.

  2. He doesn't sound like a very good reviewer. Anyone who thinks you stole your plot from Disney (and no, I don't see the resemblance) should remember that that movie, you know, stole it's plot from a fairy tale. Plus Disney's pretty litigious. I think if there was a hint of theft, they'd be all over that.

    I hate it when places lump sci-fi and fantasy together. Plus now they're adding horror? Boo.

  3. Best of luck with ABNA, Roland!

    That Disney remark is inexcusable. I can see mentioning the plot reminded him/her of Disney, but to accuse you of stealing it is nuts.

    Just out of curiosity, do you know if any of the ABNA finalists have actually "broken through" (to use Amazon's terminology) and become a recognized name?

    VR Barkowski

  4. Best of luck! And what a great idea - I had no idea those contests existed.

    Visions of Other Worlds

  5. D.G.:
    I have to be careful of the ghost of Oscar Wilde, he tends to take my books in the Shadowlands, claiming them for himself! :-)

    J E:
    It stung at the time. I hated to be called a thief by someone who obviously hadn't read my entry.

    He actually asked me if I did not feel shame for stealing the plot of such a famous cartoon. Sigh.

    No, I cannot find any of the winners hit the limelight in a big way like everyone hoped.

    Yes, ABNA is a great opportunity for a chance of quality word of mouth -- if you can take the snarky bits. :-)

  6. Which novel are you entering, Roland? I've been contemplating submitting one of mine just because it might provide some discoverability if I make it through a couple rounds (I have no delusions about achieving finalist status). I've entered before and the Vine Reviewer had absolutely nothing good to say about my full manuscript and I was devastated. (I later received a contract for it with a small publisher, and it's received some really great reviews, so it couldn't have been as bad as the reviewer thought.)

    This time, I'm considering ABNA as a promotional thing, rather than looking for some kind of validation, but I'm afraid (hate that word, afraid) it might put me in a bad funk if I get another bored-out-of-their-mind reviewer!

    I guess I still have a week or so to decide. I could always go for it and then pretend I didn't and never check the contest's progress, right?

  7. J B:
    I am entering for the same reasons you are contemplating entering.

    It might have been the same Vine Reader that attacked me. I am glad you had the gentle revenge of getting a contract for the novel he belittled.

    Many reviewers have the dream of writing novels and settle for the snippets of reviews they write and the applause and laughter they get from them. So sour grapes could well be the source of their venom.

    We are all afraid ... of so many things. But as VR reminded me: without fear there can be no courage.

    I hardly think of ABNA after I've entered and never visit its forums -- which are so full of snark and pettiness that they make those of Goodreads sound like Sunday School! :-)

    Go for it. You may, indeed, win. Best of luck to you. :-)

  8. J B:
    I forgot to answer your question. I am submitting FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE.

  9. I probably will go ahead and submit, Roland. I've grown a lot as a writer person since I last entered a couple of years ago--overall, I've developed a thicker skin. And we both know the publishing industry is not for the faint of heart.

    Best wishes for FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE--may we both get what we want out of the ABNA experience! :)

  10. Hey, Roland ...

    Is it that time of year already?!!!! Great.

    Do we really want to go through all that hell again? LOL.

    I'm thinking of entering BG again. Now that I'm working with a fantastic editor, I may have a better chance to at least make it into the quarter finals, which I had never done in four years of entering.

    ALL the best as always!

  11. J B:
    May we both get even more than we hope for! :-)

    Like you, I got caught by surprise by ABNA! Go ahead with Blind Gardener -- the only way to truly lose is not to try!